Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Event

Below, you will find a case study from my new book!  Details regarding the case and a response is found in Chapter 11.  Tomorrow, Thursday, April 27 at 8:00 P.M. I will hold a Book Talk which will specifically address this topic and beyond, within the context of a lively discussion about the importance of Cutlural Competency.  Below, please find a flyer which is  a personal invitation to all.  I look forward to seeing you there.  By the way, any comments regarding the case below would be of great interest.  Natural hair and Black women is an essential aspect of Black Culture.  Although my book goes well beyond hair...there is definitely an indication in the book, through a historical overview that Natural is Cool Enough and that's N.I.C.E.

An African American woman enters a healthcare facility where she is to receive a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of her spine. She has long hair in the style knownas locks. She is greeted by the receptionists and asked to have a seat in the waitingarea until the technician is ready to see her. A White, male technician arrives to escort the woman in for the procedure and briefly discuss the process of the MRI with her. During his overview, he indicates to her that she will have to remove anymetal objects (such as pins in her hair and jewelry) and that she should remove her hair for the process. The woman is appalled by his latter statement and indicates to him that her hair is her own and cannot be removed. He responds by stating that he has served a number of Black women who have weaves and other “false”hair often held in by pins, so he was basically taking a precaution. The woman is highly insulted and asks to speak to the administrator on duty. A White woman, in an elegantly tapered suit, arrives, hears the concern, and explains to the African American woman that the technician meant no harm but it is the policy of thefacility to be thorough with all patients in terms of the provision of information and that he was correct in inquiring about her hair in the manner that he did to ensure safety during the MRI process. She offers no apology and curtly responds,“I hope this resolves your concerns as he was merely following our required protocol.”The African American woman responds with a disappointed and curt thank you and leaves the building promptly vowing never to return. She seeks her MRI at another facility.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Research and the Impact of Chemicals on Black Women's Hair

Recently, a long-time friend of mine, shared the quote below with me on Facebook.  Question of the day: Based on this quote, do you think research should be done to find out the impact of chemicals (perms and other products) on black women's hair, scalp and beyond?

"Black hair care manufacturers have turned the black hair care industry into a chemical wastedump. Who Cares!? Not one piece of research have (sic) gone on in America, where we have gone to the moon and walked on the moon, when our scientists have not even walked on a black woman's head!" - Dr. Willie Morrow, self proclaimed creator of the jeri curl.

Check out the film below for further insight.  I am very curious to hear your thoughts about this.


Friday, April 16, 2010

More Black Women Naturalista's in Print and Television Ads?

Of late, I have been noticing that there are more Black women wearing their hair naturally in print and television ads than in the past.  At first I thought I was mistaken and that it was minimal.  But the reality is that this is really happening on a significant scale.  I have discussed this with several people and all have agreed with me.  So, I have decided that I will be paying close attention to this and try to note Black women naturalistas in television whenever I see it.  In my discussions about more black women naturalistas in print ads, the question that has surfaced concerns whether or not this is a fad or a true change in thinking on the part of Black women and marketers.  I am curious?  What are your thoughts about this?  I think it would be cool if we can note whenever we see a a black woman wearing her hair naturally in print or  television ads.   Here is a photo of one of the ads that I saw. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Malaak Compton Rock (Wife of Chris Rock) and Daughters on Oprah

Recently, Malaak Comptom-Rock was on Oprah with her two beautiful daughters.  As you may know, Malaak is the wife of Chris Rock of the film "Good Hair" and comedy fame.  In his film, "Good Hair" he talks about the ills of the kiddie perm and other details about the perm, weaves, etc.  When his daughters and his wife appeared on Oprah, they were all wearing their hair straight.  It is not clear if his daughters have perms, on the Oprah show. or if their hair is flat ironed or straightened in another way or if his wife has the same or a weave.  Malaak was on the show to talk about the wonderful work that she is doing, giving back to the community, and involving her daughters in the process which is admirable.  However, what do you think about her hair and that of her daughters, given that her husband's film is "Good Hair" and the content of the film? Thoughts?

The link below will connect you to the Malaak-Compton Rock video:


Friday, April 9, 2010

Black Students and Hair Care Options: An Interesting Article

I ran across this article regarding Black Students and Hair Care Options.  As a Black Professor with Natural Locs, I often find that hair is often a discussion with my students.  This may be because I also give a lecture entitled "Getting Down to the Roots"  which traces the history of African Hair from the Continent prior to slavery, during the slave period in the Americas, up to current day.  Nevertheless, I do believe it is a topic of frequent and interesting conversation.  To that end, I'm sharing an article that I think is worthy of discussion. Check it out and I hope you will share your thoughts.  From your perspective, do you think that this article can lead one to conclude that Natural is Cool Enough for Black women college students?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You're a Winner!

One of the winners of the Natural Is Cool Enough T-shirt Contest was kind enough to share her picture in her Natural Is Cool Enough T-shirt.  Definitely N.I.C.E!  Thank you for sharing!  You look naturally wonderful!  Congratulations!

Dana's Hairstory

Below a hairstory is told by Dana.  Dana wrote to me and asked if I would post her hairstory.   So here it is. As with everyone who has shared their hairstory on this blog...thank you Dana.  Each one of us has a story but the bottom-line is that no matter who you are, no matter what your race, Natural Is Cool Enough and that's N.I.C.E.!

Dana’s Hairstory

I may not have the usual hairstory common to women and men of the African Diaspora, but my story is still pretty common, and it runs pretty deeply into my sense of self. I grew up as a young girl with a medium-sized curly ‘fro. For a child of the early 80s, this might not have been so unusual, except that my hair was stark white. I didn’t look like anyone that I knew – no relatives, and certainly not anyone else in my neighborhood. My brothers ridiculed me constantly, saying I must be adopted and calling me “Frizzy,” “Fuzzy,” or “Monkey,” for a good 7 years until I eventually responded to those as if they were my name. Kids at school were no more understanding, asking all kinds of questions, pulling my hair at random and screeching in delight when it bounced back, and asking in disgust why I “made” it that way. While about 10% of my classmates were African-American, all of them either sported straightened hair or tightly braided pigtails with pink or purple plastic balls at the tops. Everyone looked cute and girly, and I seemed to be the only girl I knew whose hair was “unruly,” “messy,” “dirty-looking,” like a “rat’s nest.” There was a lot of shame around having hair like mine. Living in a world of straight-haired girls, I longed to be normal like them, to be attractive to adults like them, to look “clean.” I longed for satiny dark hair that one could brush through, rather than the mess on my head that ripped out painfully in chunks if I even tried to put my fingers through it like the women on TV. I only made the situation worse by avoiding having my hair brushed as often as I could, because the brushing sessions with my mother brought torrents of hot tears and screaming. My mother had ironed her hair during the 60s and 70s in her own shame, and then lost it all as a result of cancer. She had no idea how to manage mine, and considered items like conditioner a luxury we couldn’t afford, so the harsh shampoos we used dried it out more and more. In the winter the dry air caused portions of it to hang while the shorter parts stayed close around the crown of my head, giving, to say the least, a very freakish effect. In the summer, no matter what I did, the humidity made it all puff up in masses of knots that I knew I would never get out. Swimming or getting rained on would make this even worse.

Between the ages of 9 and 13 I tried relentlessly to straighten my hair, brushing it over and over again (causing me to lose about half of it), try to FORCE it to stay straight. If the ends curled up, I grabbed the scissors and recklessly cut them off. As is true for just about everyone, middle school was hell. The in hairstyle was to have straight hair with a huge curled fan of fried and sprayed hair over the forehead. I remember looking at Kristy Yamaguchi’s hair as she skated in the Olympics and trying again and again to make mine just like it. I destroyed my hair, which now had the required bangs, by straightening it out daily with the curling iron, hairspray, and mousse, and then trying hopelessly to shape it until it ended in a shriveled crunchy ball in the middle of my forehead when the hairspray dried. I often spent my mornings in front of the mirror in tears, hating myself and this ugly hair I was cursed with. I often got several comments a day during these years about how I should cut my hair or do my bangs differently, from people who just didn’t understand that I had no control over what my hair did. I was kind of in shock that so many people would be so concerned about my HAIR. The comments made me even more self-conscious.

When I got to high school, a lot of things changed for me. I started to feel like trying to fit in was not working; I knew I was different - why should I care anymore if I stood out? I started to wear vintage clothes so I knew I would be the only one wearing that outfit when I went out of the house, and I let my hair be curly again – no bangs, no sprays. For the first two years girls constantly came up to me with a disgusted look and asked why I would perm my hair when straight hair was in. When I said this was my natural hair, they looked at me with a mix of horror and pity. My hair became political – it was anti-conformist, it was anti-fake. Racist people would sometimes come up to me and ask if I was Black or “mixed.” I responded that I was mostly Italian/Sicilian and that it was likely that somewhere in my family there were people from Northern Africa – at least I hoped so. This was not what they were expecting at all. I had taken their intended insults as a complement. Embracing my hair as part of a long heritage was not only grounding - I found it really freeing. I soon noticed that now that I no longer cared what other people thought, and stopped trying so hard to look like everyone else, I developed quite a little fan following at school. It was very odd to suddenly have girls following me around and asking tips on how to look like me. Guys followed me everywhere too, for different reasons. It was nice, and it annoyed me at the same time – weren’t these the same people who ridiculed me only a few years ago? Were they really so insecure that they gravitated toward anyone with enough confidence just not to care anymore?

Within two weeks of college and now attempting to sport a bit shorter hairstyle, I started going out with the man who is now my husband. As an affectionate term, and being – if you’ll pardon my eye rolling – a man, he immediately decided to call me “Mophead.” He even wrote stupid songs and poems using that awful name, not understanding why it might bother me. “But your hair looks like the end of a mop,” he said matter-of-factly, believing that direct visual comparisons should be neither a complement nor an insult. It just was what it was. About a month later, my Jamaican roommate (who had had straightened hair most of her life) helped me cut my hair. I asked her to trim about a centimeter off the edges to clean up the split ends. She took an inch. I screamed when I saw it, and she thought I was overreacting until I showered and let it dry – it looked like a tightly-curled helmet. My boyfriend walked in and said something to the effect of, “It looks like a short mop, now.” Not cool.

That was more than a decade ago, and I never let another person touch my hair again. I grew it back out, and do nothing but use a minimal amount of gel and a conditioner marketed to women of color (which several times a store cashier has asked if I made a mistake in purchasing). As styles change, there have been countless women who suggest that I should straighten my hair, cut it, shape it, dye it, or otherwise change it because apparently my hair is still worth that much of other people’s time. (Women also will often tell me that I should start tanning my skin – which doesn’t tan – because apparently there is something embarrassing about my “pasty” arms and legs. I find this incredibly odd considering the racist history of our country. My skin is what it is – I don’t want other people to change theirs, so why should I change mine?) A lot of men have a different reaction, even asking to touch my hair or mentioning how much they like it. My husband still affectionately but cluelessly calls me “Mophead” from time to time, to remind us of our college days.

Twelve years ago I moved to NYC and majored in Africana Studies at NYU, then moved to the Bronx to become a high school teacher. I don’t look like the majority of my friends, my co-workers, or my neighbors. Now that I am in Miami getting a Ph.D. in the History of Women’s Activism in the African Diaspora, I see more pale faces and hair than I have in a decade. It feels strangely like I stand out more now, like I am out of my community. I feel more different than I have in a long time. But I find that it is still true: on the days when I don’t care what people think and just feel good about living my life, I get a whole lot of compliments and smiles. On the days when I look down and feel awkward, no one says anything. Confidence attracts, no matter what your style, ethnic background, or hair type. It seemed weird to me that people always spent so much time thinking about how I looked, but now as I look back on this long Hairstory, it seems even weirder to me that I spent even longer thinking about it than they did.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Transitioning to Natural Hair

Many Black women are interested in transitioning to natural hair but have worries, concerns and just are uncertain about how to take what is seemingly a big step.  So, this wonderful video talks you through the process with insight, details and enthusiasm about the journey.  Check it out and see what you think.  You may agree or disagree with some of the points made but it's pretty insightful. Please add your comments if you have thoughts about this process.  Every little bit of advice helps.  Enjoy! 


Friday, April 2, 2010

New Book on Natural Hair Care

There is a New Book out on Natural Hair Care. The author is a Harvard educated Lawyer (who also graduated from Harvard .  The author states the following:

"Frustrated and tired of wasting money and time, she set out to write a guide to help other women struggling with their hair. Like many black women, Chris-Tia says she grew tired of spending thousands of dollars and hours upon hours frying her nappy tresses into submission. After 25 years of trying to realize an unattainable beauty standard, Chris-Tia decided to finally let go of relaxers, wigs, weaves, and extensions and embrace her kinky hair for what it was in all its natural glory. But learning how to take care of it wasn't easy; her search for answers resulted in "Thank God I'm Natural: The Official Guide to Caring and Maintaining for Natural Hair."

For further information, just click on the link below.  This is truly N.I.C.E.!