Not Your Definition of Being Black

 

Ever since I was a little girl I was told that I acted “like a white girl”. I was told that because I acted and spoke a certain way I wasn’t “black”. Up until the 7th grade, I went to a predominately white school and lived in a predominately white neighborhood. My mom and I lived downtown in Philadelphia. I was surrounded by a lot of wealthy individuals who happened to be white. I was exposed to all types of music, fashion and different activities. Some of my favorite artist included Britney Spears, NSYNC and the spice girls. I remember wanting a pair of sketchers instead of Nike’s. One day, one of my Asian friends from school told me that she liked me because I didn’t act like a black girl. As a young child I didn’t understand why she would say that to me. Her comment bothered me but didn’t really bother me as much as the comments my family used to make. Being around my family as a child was bittersweet. I always looked forward to being around my family but a few family members would call me “white girl” or tell me that I was acting “white”. Those comments used to make me feel insecure. I loved being black. I loved my culture. So telling me I was acting white was insulting and confused me because i didn’t know you could act like a color.

When I got to the 7th grade I transferred to a predominately black school. I didn’t want people calling me a “white girl” or telling me that I acted white. I tried really hard to fit in. I remember trying to deepen my voice and play it “cool.” I began listening to more Power 99 and less Q102 just to fit in. I traded in my sketchers for some air forces. I thought by doing that it would help me to be more “black”. Boy was I wrong. I still was criticized by the way I spoke and acted. I was known as the “smart girl” that acted “white” because I spoke properly. My classmates called me the smart girl because I knew a lot of the lessons that were being taught because I learned them a year before from my prior school(Don’t even get me started on that topic) .

Let’s fast forward to my adult life. I have completely embraced my personality. For years I didn’t like the way I spoke and I always thought I was different. I wouldn’t speak around certain groups of people because I didn’t want to be judged or talked about. This year,  I  heard a few comments about my “blackness”. I was told that I wasn’t black because I didn’t eat watermelon or hot sauce and because of how I spoke. These comments came from both black and white people. I started to feel like that insecure little girl from back in the day.

So why do we associate speaking proper English, knowing the latest pop songs, knowing how to swim and being intelligent with “acting” white? As if black people aren’t allowed to do these things? Where did this come from? We live in a society that presents a stereotypical image of what it means to be black. When I fill out my ethnicity on paperwork I have to circle “Black/African American”. When  I look in the mirror I see a black woman. I go through the same struggles that black women  go through. I am me! and that’s all that I can be. No matter how I act or speak, I am still a proud black woman and nobody can take that away from me.

 

“Children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white” – Barack Obama

The Beauty Aisle Vs The Ethnic Aisle 

Do you notice that when you go into certain stores to buy hair care products, the aisles are separated by the “beauty ailse” and the “ethnic ailse”? Why is that? Is my hair not considered to be beautiful? I believe that this is an overlooked form of segregation that needs to be addressed. Society is telling us, our sons and daughters that because you have kinkier hair or curlier hair, you have to shop in the ethnic aisle not the beauty aisle because your hair is not considered to be beautiful.  I loved what she’s moisture did last year with the “break the walls” campaign. They decided to put this issue out there for the world to see. Do you think it made a difference or bring awareness to the issue? I would love to see the day when I can go pick up my hair products from the “beauty” aisle.
Thoughts?

Summer hairstyles 

Summer is quickly apporoaching us. You may think to yourself “what am I going to do to my hair?”. Well there’s plenty you can do to your hair. When I decided to stop adding heat to my hair, I had no idea what I was going to do to my hair during the summer months. I was afraid of frizziness and my hair sweating out. I asked around and some people suggest putting your hair up in a bun or other “updo” hairstyles. Twists or braids are also good protective hairstyles. Last year I decided to experiment with different styles. I tried doing wash n go’s, which was awesome for a quick on the go style(naturalistas by quick and on the go that means 45 minutes lol). I also did rod sets. My favorite style was the perm rod set. This style always lasted me 2 weeks before I had to redo it. As the days went on and the humidity grew, my curls turned to coils. I loved it! With this style I was able to pin it up, pin it to the side and wear it out when I wanted to. This was my favorite go to hairstyle last summer! The trick to making sure your perm rod set looks good is to make sure it’s completely dried before unraveling.
What’s your favorite summer hairstyles??

Perm rod set after the unravel
1 week later with the humidity
The curl transformation
The half updo!

Shampoo Vs Co-Wash

The debate over shampoo vs co-wash(conditioner only washing) is very common amongst the natural hair community. While I believe there are benefits to using both, there are many reasons to take in to consideration when using both shampoos and co-washes.

What is shampoo? Traditionally, Shampoo is generally made up of surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate  or sodium laureth sulfate. The goal for shampoo is to remove build up in the hair without stripping out sebum. So what is sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate? These are chemicals commonly found in shampoos and in other cleaning products. Sulfate acts as a foaming agent that is capable of removing build up in your hair. But is it good for your hair? the answer is no!. Sulfates irritate your hair. It strips away essential oils in your hair which could cause your hair to be dry and could possibly make your hair break off. Nowadays they have a lot of “sulfate free” and clarifying shampoos. These shampoos do not have a harsh affect on your hair and will not strip away your oils. Clarifying shampoos are good for removing build up from all of the products that you use such as gels, creams etc. If you use this shampoo, it is very important to follow up with a conditioner.

What is a Co-Wash? Co-wash is short for conditioner only wash. Co-Washing your hair means skipping the shampoo all together and solely relying on the conditioner to wash your hair. There is a debate going on saying that using a co-wash is the same as using fabric softener to wash your clothes instead of detergent. The results from using a co-wash makes your hair feel smooth and easier to manage, however, I do not believe that your hair will be squeaky clean.

Personally, I’ve stopped using shampoos as much in my hair. I typically use a shampoo maybe after every 2 to 3 co-washes. You can use a co-wash as a weekly cleanser in between your shampoos. I like to use a sulfate free clarifying shampoo because I like to make sure I remove all of the products in my hair. Here’s a secret, I am a product junkie! I haven’t seen any problems so far. My hair is healthy and it’s growing. Recently, I began using CURLS Blueberry bliss reparative hair wash. This is a cleanser and to me, this product seems like a cross between a co-wash and a shampoo. You just have to find the regiment that works for you.

Tell me what you think? Do you Co-wash or shampoo?

My hair is not your hair!

I remember wanting my hair to be big and curly like one of my friends. When I finally stopped adding heat on my hair, I knew for sure that in 6 months my hair would be really big and curly like hers. Uh, no! That didn’t happen. I then started my Instagram for natural hair and I saw all of these beautiful ladies with long and big beautiful curls but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see that with my hair. I started to feel discouraged. Why is my hair not growing! I would think that to myself very often. I would watch different YouTube tutorials and try different styles but my hair never came out like the girls I would see online. How did they get their hair so big? how did their hair grow so long? What is wrong with my hair? I wash it and condition it regularly! I thought. Would could I be doing wrong? I had to realize that my hair was different then theirs. What worked for her did not work for me. I had to give my hair time. I had to stop comparing my hair to other people’s hair. This was my personal hair growth journey. I had to learn to embrace my hair for what it was. Sometimes it’s hard for us especially in a society that tells us that the longer your hair is, the better you look. It’s been 1 year and 3 months since I stopped adding heat and I can honestly say that my hair has grown so much! My hair is so healthy. It’s not always about length. It’s about health. With time and patience, the length will come.  My suggestion to those that feel this way is to take pictures on your hair journey. You will see that your hair is growing. It may not grow in the speed that you want it to be but it is growing. Don’t compare your hair to others!

Is hair typing a form of segregation?

What is hair typing? hair typing is a system that helps point out what type of hair you have. There’s Type 3 hair (3a, 3b, 3c) and type 4 hair(4a, 4b, 4c). The type 3 hair had a looser/softer curl. Type 4 hair is more of a tighter curl or kinky hair as some would say. Personally, I don’t have a problem with hair typing. It actually helps me identify which products works best for me. The issue comes in when people try to use hair typing as another way to distinguish “good hair” vs “bad hair”. Some people try to say that 3a,b,c is good hair and 4a,b,c is not so good hair. To me it doesn’t matter which type of hair you have, as long as it’s healthy! Why do we always have to compare?

What do you think? Is hair typing another form of segregation in the black community? Is it helpful? or harmful?

Does “Nappy” offend you?

We’ve all heard or used the word “nappy” when it comes to black hair. I’ll admit to using the word a few times back in the day. I used the word because that’s what I heard growing up to describe tightly curled hair. One day when I was a little girl I was getting my hair done and the comb broke. Why did the comb break? Because my hair was too “nappy”. I decided to google the word and  I found a few different definitions. The word “nappy” as it relates to hair, I found these words: Gross, disgusting, extremely curly, kinky”. Historically, the word has a derogatory meaning. Remember a few years ago, Don Imus called the Rutgers University students, “Nappy headed hoes”? I’m sure he meant that as a compliment…yeah right! In early African civilizations, hairstyles could indicate a persons tribe or social status. Frizzy and kinky hair protected our hair from the sun’s rays.  During slavery,  black women have been conditioned to believe that our hair isn’t beautiful. For years, black women who had straight hair or wavy hair that looked similar to white women, were known as having “good hair”. Others who had tightly curled hair or kinky hair, were known to have nappy hair.

It’s okay when we use the word nappy amongst each other right? but if a person from another race uses it, we get offended? or should we all just stop using the word nappy when it comes to black hair?