Time to talk hair

Yes indeed, it’s that time again. Time to talk about my hair, now if you are not a Black woman there is a good chance this post might not be your cup of tea. On the other hand it could be enlightening, so consider sticking around. Regular readers know its been a while since I have written about my hair, after all last year after years of growing dreadlocks I decided to cut them. Well the small fro I had after cutting off inches of hair has now grown out and I am at that place hair wise I hate to be. Long story short, my hair is a mess and its a length that really I find it difficult to do much of anything with.

The truth is I really am not a hair person. Let’s see, I went natural (that means no chemical straighteners have touched this head in over 10 years, and the last chemical color was about 7 years ago) and the first couple of years of being natural I rocked a short fro. It was a total wash and go and I loved it; but then we moved to Maine and I decided to grow my hair out. That lasted for 2 years and was what I look back on as the ugly period since there really wasn’t a lot I could do to my hair until it had some significant length which it did by the time I decided to loc in 2004.

Well the locs were good for a while but living in Maine with no one to help me hands on with my locs led me to free form and eventually led me to say buh bye to them as well. It was really lack of good maintenance that killed my locs, in fact looking back on my decade in naps I can say that barring the times I have rocked the TWA my hair is generally not as healthy as it can be. That may sound silly but when it comes to doing my hair those skills passed me by, perhaps it was because I was well into high school before my Mom let me actually start managing my hair. Seriously, she refused to have me going out with a raggedy head as she would call it, so she often would oversee my coif. The result being I barely can braid and when I do you damn sure ain’t going outside in it and well my attempts at twisting, etc…um, it sux. I suspect if I had someone up here who could sit down and show me it might come together but honestly even looking at you tube videos doesn’t seem to help.

So you are probably asking um…where are you going with this? Well until yesterday I figured I’d keep living with my hair situation but I went to my local Aveda salon for my eyebrow waxing and we ended up talking about my hair. Long story short they explained they have a process of thermal straightening that could loosen my curls to make my hair more manageable.

I’m going to be honest, at first I was like hell to the naw, I am happy to be nappy, no chemicals here…all the things that good nappy hair disciples do. Some of ya’ll might be asking what am I talking about but I know some of ya’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Going natural as a Black woman is liberating, it really is, at least in the early days you feel like you have a new lease on life. You feel like you have instant camaraderie with other natural sistas, you feel amazing, freed…oh its a beautiful thing. 

Well 10 years into this journey, what I am about to say is blasphemy to nappy heads but really its just hair. Yes chemicals are bad, and by all means you should avoid them if at all possible. But sometimes being natural ain’t all it’s cracked up to be either. See, the reason I went natural initially was because I knew I was moving to Maine and figured there would be no one to do my hair. That is really what prompted me to give up the creamy crack, my relaxed hair was always healthy, no breakage, no issues.  I admit I did not like feeling in bondage to the hair salon for that weekly maintenance but lets keep it real, too many naturals are always looking for that elusive product to “manage” their curls. Ya know you know what I am talking about.  They trade one addiction for another, I have seen it too many times. In the past decade I have seen many sistas embrace being natural at least on the surface but deep down they are grappling with how beautiful they will be perceived as, if they rock a TWA, locs, etc. I know, I was there and man I fought those demons, days when I just knew I looked ugly. But guess what? I didn’t care, for me being natural at least in the early days allowed me to see true beauty in myself but at this stage in the game, I will be honest. I just want hair that is manageable. I am not a fan of super short hair…can I tell you on cold days I miss my locs.

I would consider going back to locks but I truly believe they have a spiritual component and I am not there yet. I found what I needed with that first set, peace and acceptance in so many areas of my life but I am not ready to return. I keep saying just let my fro grow but then I keep coming back to grow into what? Last time I let it grow eventually that path led to dreads.

So I will be honest, I have no idea what direction I am about to take on the hair path, could involve chemicals, could be braids, might just say fuck it and crop it again. Yet no matter what I  do, I am more than just my hair and while my journey to me may have started with my hair it does not end with my hair.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t even decided whether I am going to have my hair treated, last night I was pumped up about this. This morning the $300 price tag has me thinking a trip to the sista who trimmed my fro is in order so I can explore more reasonable options that might keep me natural but I will be honest no longer am I am militant natural.

I have enjoyed the journey but I am not defined by my hair…hell I define me.

Savages in this town and other thoughts

One of the best lines from Kevin Smith’s classic movie Clerks is when Randal says “Bunch of savages in this town”. Sadly after reading some of the recent coverage of the situation in Haiti, it seems that many Americans who are sitting in the comfort of their homes are thinking this about the folks in Haiti.

I am not the only Black blogger nor will I be the last to note that when a crisis hits an area where the victims are Black, that it never seems to fail, that at a certain point the media coverage will start to show the victims in a negative light. We saw it with the Katrina hurricane, after several days folks started getting a tad pissed and hungry that help was not coming in a timely fashion and well some folks decided to take matters into their own hands. The result was folks started to take what they needed and yes taking a big ass tv might be a dumb act but perhaps at the moment the thought is this tv might represent access to my basic needs being met.

There have been reports of looting in Haiti where its safe to say things are fucked up. After all, there is basically only one way to land the goods and its taking a while for food and water to actually get to the folks who need it.

I always wonder how come when tragedy hits and the victims are white, they aren’t looting? No, they scavenge or forage but never loot. See, foraging for your needs is a lot less scary sounding than folks who are looting.

However I wonder what would those same people talking shit do if they were in need and help was not getting to them? I don’t know about you but if my tummy was rumbling after several days and most certainly if my kids were hungry and thirsty, I would do any and everything to rectify that situation and laws and civility be damned. I suspect that most of us when faced with what seems like the likelihood of death due to a lack of basics such as food and water would do the same thing.

Yet because of the power of language its easy to paint those people in a negative light and blame it on bad genes…see those people are predisposed to bad shit. But when we do it, well its the right thing. Think about the would be bomber on that Christmas Day flight…he was thwarted by a big white man who not only leaped over several rows to put the fire out but I recall an interview with the “hero” who after making sure the suspect was not going to blow up the plane preceded to put the suspect in a headlock and dragged him to the front of the plane where the crew handcuffed him. Quite heroic but I wonder what would have happened if Jasper the hero would have been a Ray-Ray the black man from Detroit? See, where I am going with this?

Anyway one man’s savage is another man’s person striving to survive.

So what should we do?

Since learning of the earthquake that hit Haiti, I have noticed a curious thing.  Everyone seems saddened to see such a natural disaster hit, the response to what should be done seems to vary greatly depending on who you are talking to. Now as a Black woman, I have a great deal of Black friends some who have been personally affected as they have loved ones in Haiti. Thankfully their loved ones are safe. It seems within the Black community especially those of us online we are feeling the call to arms to help our brothers and sisters in the diaspora. On a quick personal note, my brother who is an architect is trying to gather a group to aid in future rebuilding efforts, so if you or someone you know is either an architect, engineer, or construction type person and wants to get involved, send me an email and I will connect you with my brother for details.

However I have noticed a bit of chill about what should be done that seems sadly to be breaking down along racial lines. I have tried to ignore it but after sitting in a diner and listening to an asshole chide President Obama for sending 100 million bucks, I need to say something that’s been on my mind.

Now when the tsunami hit several years ago, folks quickly mobilized to help, granted the US economy was in a better place but let’s be real compared to a place like Haiti most let me state that again most of even our poorest residents are still doing pretty well compared to what’s happening in Haiti. After all if you are reading this, its safe to say you have access to water and a place to shit and probably something to eat. Based off the images I have seen of the aftermath of Haiti its safe to say even the shittiest accommodations in the US would look pretty damn good to a folks dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.

No, Haiti is not a pretty place in the minds of most Americans. It’s not an exotic locale to escape to, folks try to leave it and often get sent back. It’s real easy to say its the poorest nation in Western hemisphere without any thought to how it got to be that way. No discussion about how our policies years ago helped it become such a poor nation. No, just easier to say its a poor ass place and it sucks to be those people.

I wonder and maybe I am wrong but for many white folks I wonder how they would feel about this situation if it were a nation of white folks or a nation of pretty exotic people who live in a lush land that we like to visit. Yes, 100 million bucks in a time of economic crisis is a lot of money but at the same time it’s not. Yes it could help a lot of Americans but does that mean we should sit back and say sorry we are having issues we can’t do nothing for ya man!

How does the economic crisis that is largely of our own doing after all, a fair number of folks losing their homes lost them because they allowed common sense to go out the window. Hello! I have said it before but if you earn 50G’s a year what business did you have buying a half a million dollar home and then treating it like a fucking ATM supporting a lifestyle you could not afford. On the other hand there are plenty of folks who are dealing with loss of house and jobs who didn’t do anything wrong, but what does the tragedy in Haiti and the ongoing economic situation have to do with one another? Can we as a society not still stop to help our fellow-man in need?

It’s funny because I work with the poor daily and while there are a few folks that really piss me off on a regular basis I still see folks who in the midst of their own struggle with poverty can take the time to help someone else out. I see the call to arms to help Haiti as a similar situation. No, not everyone drinks pricy coffee or eats lunch out but most of us in this country have some small treat in our lives we could temporarily give up to help someone else out.

I like to think of helping others as good karma, insurance for when  our bad shit happens someone will be there for us. Yet I think for some Americans the core resistance to helping Haiti despite our economic woes is not about our finances but about the fact that deep down those people are not us, they are not attractive to us and while we have a temporary twinge for their plight at the end of the day they are just poor brown folks. We don’t see their humanity because we choose to see them as different than us. Oh, I know for some reading this you will say that’s not it at all but are you so sure? Maybe I am misreading the situation but when I see seemingly intelligent folks questioning our helping at this time, I am left to wonder why is that? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter especially if you are someone who is unsure we can afford to help. It seems to me we are all on this planet together and the humane and kind thing to do is offer help but what the hell do I know?