He may not have been the man we’d expected Serena Williams to end up with (following beaus Common and Drake), but Alexis Ohanian has turned out to be quite the devoted husband and dad. In addition to his own work as a venture capitalist and part-time curator of family-themed social media, Ohanian accompanies his athlete-wife around the globe to cheer her on and co-parent daughter Alexis Olympia as mommy attempts to rack up more tennis titles.
So, it should come as no surprise that Ohanian also wants to share the responsibility in grooming Olympia’s hair, which is a very different texture than his own. As reported by the Today Show on Monday (h/t Buzzfeed), Ohanian recently tweeted that he’d attempted to join several natural hair groups on Facebook to improve his skills, joking, “I hope they don’t auto-reject my application when they see my profile photo.”
While Ohanian’s post got tons of positive feedback—especially from other dads in the same boat—not everyone was enthused by the idea of a white man trying to enter spaces typically reserved for women of color (and primarily black women).
While we trust that Ohanian’s intentions are genuine, as one white commenter thankfully pointed out to another, when and where we gather, we are not there to be viewed by outsiders. Safe spaces exist for a reason.
Still others (including Ohanian himself) shouted out Matthew A. Cherry’s near-bestselling children’s book, Hair Love (soon to become a short film), which chronicles a dad and daughter’s hair journey together. Another potential source of support in Olympia’s natural hair journey? The texture-affirming Healthy Roots Dolls. (Sorry, Qai Qai! We know bald girls are fly, too!) YouTube was also a frequent (and obvious) suggestion, as many dads claimed it helped them master the twist-out. And in the days following, Ohanian also got hip to transracial styling tutors Styles 4 Kidz, shouting out the org’s work with one of his frequent hashtags, #LookForTheHelpers.
While we agree that a tutorial or salon appointment format might be more appropriate for Ohanian and fellow dads like him than potentially intruding on spaces intended for women of color, we don’t want to overlook that he’s raising one (as well as being married to one). Surely, the co-founder of Reddit can use this experience to create a community suitable for active dads like him?
Hopefully, Ohanian will take this teachable moment and use it constructively, but ahead of Father’s Day, shoutout to him and all the other dads not relegating grooming their children to “women’s work.” As the daughter of a hairstyling dad, this writer appreciates you.