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San Diego author writes book to promote STEM to youth; highlights Black hair texture

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Feb 08, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego man has an innovative way to get people of color into STEM by demystifying hair texture for African-American kids.

Engineer Neil Thompson's nephew asked him why they have curly hair, inspiring Thompson's book "Ask Uncle Neil: Why is my Hair Curly?"

"He actually asked me once why his hair is the way it is. I actually didn’t know," said Thompson. "So I did a bit of research to figure out what the answer is. I thought maybe other kids would have this question too. So let me make a book out of it and make it for children."

Some researchers think African people evolved dense, curly hair to protect themselves from sunlight. But as Thompson says in his book, that's not the full story.

"There is no scientific consensus as to why hair is curly," said Thompson. "They have to know that there are times when there is no agreement about why something is the way it is. But maybe you can be the person to figure that out."

A Pew Research Center survey says African-Americans make up just five percent of engineers. So Thompson hopes his short story will teach kids to follow their curiosity and their dreams.

"One of the main thrusts of the book is, especially Black children, to know that there are no careers that are off limits to you," said Thompson. "If you want to be an engineer, even if you don't know any, please know that there are other people doing those jobs. They may not be Black, but they're no better than us."

The San Ysidro Public Library is holding a story time event with Thompson's book on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m.