The Respectability of Black Hair

The Respectability of Black Hair

What does it mean for a black woman to be presentable in the world? Most often it involves everything but the authenticity of what it means to actually be a black woman. Hair must be beat into submission with slicking gels, wet brushes, and tight hairbands. Or better yet, braided and completely covered up with hair from some other woman deemed more beautiful and more acceptable. Being presentable as a black woman means buckshots are nowhere in sight, that your clothes don’t quite show too much of the curve of your round behind and that the loud and booming voice you possess is shushed into a more comfortable whisper. Yet, we would wonder why we often don’t feel seen. How can we be seen as black women when the very essence of who we are has been deemed, unacceptable? 

Many have been in an uproar about the H&M ad that recently showed a young black girl with hair that in many black homes would be considered unkempt. Her hair, a texture known to the black natural hair community as 4C, is a tight and kinky pattern often deemed the most undesirable in the spectrum and the least represented in cute ads about natural hair care. Although the ad was made to show children that had been at school all day and featured other young girls with messy hair, something about the young, black girl’s tight texted hair pulled into a short ponytail without brushing or gel sent the internet into a frenzy. 

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Black Boy Joy and Styling Hollywood

Black Boy Joy and Styling Hollywood

It’s black girl magic, black boy joy, and possibly one of the most important series Netflix has produced. “Styling Hollywood” was so pleasantly refreshing as it chronicled an awards season in the life of celebrity stylist Jason Bolden and his husband and business partner Adair Curtis. I’m not sure I’ve yet to witness a gay black couple shown in such a tender, expansive and practical way on a platform as large and popular as Netflix and it mattered in a big way. I found myself thinking the whole time, representation matters, in between cackling at Jason, of course. 

Every gay black man may not be chasing the nuclear idea of a husband, a kid, and a dog, but I would guarantee that the representation of that is just as important as it was for brown girls or mixed kids or urban kids to see themselves on screen. At the basic level of being human beings, we want to feel seen. And to me, outside of the beautiful gowns, private showrooms and A-List celebrities, the most important part of “Styling Hollywood” was that. A black gay couple on display for all to see, applaud, and fall in love with.

In my opinion, in many cinematic and television projects, gay black men can often be made to appear as caricatures of real people and not ones with real emotions, stable relationships, and booming businesses. With their business at JSN Studios as the centerpiece of the show, we’re also given a more robust picture of their lives that includes their relationship, their struggle over having a baby, managing friendships and professional relationships, and challenging business decisions. And yes, Jason is dramatic, but in the best and most engaging way. 

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Grief Lives in The Bones

Grief Lives in The Bones

Grief lives in the bones. That’s what I know to be true almost twelve years after my best friend in high school passed away after a short battle with meningitis. Sometimes it still aches when I see anything reminiscent of the pain I felt that day whether on the big screen or in the news. It aches when I think of how one morning she told me she didn’t feel well and a few days later a friend of her family was knocking on my door telling me that Dena was gone.

See, I was at the dentist and she was dying. It was February 12th, 2007. The ailment she complained about that morning when my father drove us to school was the fast moving, extremely deadly bacterial meningitis. According to an article from the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.

After Dena mentioned not feeling well in the morning, I searched for her after school as we would normally go home or head to our retail job at a mall clothing store on the outskirts of the city. She left early. The next day, I was trying to get in touch with her to go to school and figured she might be at her dad’s house which happened from time to time. By the third day, my doorbell rang.

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Making Friends After Thirty

Making Friends After Thirty

“You’re only as strong as the people you spend the most time with,” or so the adage goes and for many black women that includes a strong group of friends. Many of us watched as Joan, Maya, Lynn and Toni supported each other through breakups, career challenges, and general craziness in the hit show “Girlfriends” which debuted in the year 2000. It mirrored our own circles or those we aspired to have. The imperfections, the fights, the moments of reconciliation. But the older I get, the less those rifts seem to come back around and friend groups feel like a memory of the past as my circle gets smaller and smaller.   

My best friend and I were once a trifecta. It’s easy to forget now because it’s been so long since our third seemed to drift off and away. We all worked at the same retail store and quickly formed a bond based on proximity and an odd racial divide in the store between the black co-workers and the puerto rican co-workers. We had to stick together, look out for one another and in the midst found we had a lot in common. 

It started slow. We would get lunch together sometimes or go on an occasional shopping trip after work and it morphed into a true friendship. We knew each other’s families, we saw relationships bloom and some fall apart. We celebrated birthdays, which oddly enough became the point of our demise. 

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The Work of Marriage

The Work of Marriage

There are no guarantees in love. Nothing will keep you from waking up one morning and deciding you can’t take another day of dealing with your significant others’ shortcomings or vice versa. There’s no class for that in particular, but there are a whole lot of other measures and preparation one can make for marriage that many seem to skip over.

Nothing about marriage has ever seemed like a fairytale to me. I wasn’t a girl who dreamed of white dresses, maybe because my parents eloped. And I certainly never thought that somehow a husband was going to be some type of superhero that made my life all that it was supposed to be. But I did want to get married and somehow the example set before me prepared me for the fact that it was bigger than one day when emotions were high and the champagne was flowing, but that marriage was a partnership for which you should do your best to prepare.

Recently, it feels like I’ve been seeing people my age run into troubles in their marriages. From fights to separation to full on divorce and it’s troubling. I’m sure many of them were married before I was, which also makes me extremely grateful that I waited until 30. That I didn’t feel some weird pressure to be married by 25 and having my first babies. But it got me thinking about my own journey and the steps that we took before sashaying down the aisle.

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