Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Natural Sister's Hairstory: The Journey to Amina

As a faculty member at a University, I often encounter delightful young people at the beginning stages of making big decisions about their lives.  What I enjoy most is the opportunity to dialogue with them and to share my own stages of growth, professionally and in terms of my hair. I give a lecture entitled "Getting Down to the Roots" which is about the history of the hair of Black people and the various aspects of evolvement that individuals have experience in terms of their hair including perms, weaves, jherr curls, braids, locks, etc.  Below is a story from one of my former students who recently graduated from college which is a fantastic accomplishment and now her graduation to natural hair.  For her, N.I.C.E.!  I hope her story will inspire the many sisters who are considering taking the step to natural or who are already in transition.

Rahel Callender’s Natural Hair Journey
When I first decided to go natural it wasn’t a magical epiphany I had one day, or a new desire that came over me in a rush. Instead I simply wanted to stretch out my perms. Since the age of 9 I have had my hair relaxed and I have been so addicted to perms that as soon as I felt a little bit of new growth on my scalp I would run to the nearest salon and get a relaxer. Well at least until the summer of 2009. It was at that time that I realized that my hair was very unhealthy and I needed to make a change. My purpose was to try to grow out my hair without perming it as often. I never intended to stop. So I decided to put micro-braids in my hair as a way to grow it out. When I took out my braids I saw that it damaged my edges and so therefore I decided I would put extension twists which are not as damaging to the hair. I decided to do twists for approximately 11 months as my “transition” period. Of course I didn’t know that was what it was called at the time.

I started to do research on hair products and started finding out more information on natural hair, learning that perm is the WORST thing you could ever put in your hair, I decided I would attempt to go natural. Luckily for me I had a solid support system of friends, colleagues and natural haired sisters within my community who encouraged me during my transition. I got very anxious to see the development of my hair but decided to wait it out until I knew I had the opportunity to do the “Big Chop”.

I graduated from college in May of 2010, which was a huge accomplishment in my life, and I felt that would be the perfect time to cut off the permed hair as a symbol of “part 2” of my life beginning.

On June 29, I sat in my living room with my mom, a pair of scissors in my hands and a mirror, and cut all the perm off of my hair.

I was NOT prepared for the emotional feeling that overcame me. I felt so liberated, I felt free, I felt excited. I felt scared. Staring into the mirror with no makeup on, and the hair on my head the way it was SUPPOSED to come out was a bit shocking. It was then I noticed qualities in my face that I never noticed before. It was then my true beauty was exposed.

I found myself reading blog after blog on how to care for natural hair, what products to use, researched curl patterns, hair regiments and different techniques on how to take care of my hair

The one thing I love the most about my hair, is it catches people off guard. The endless compliments from friends and strangers alike and the feeling that I get knowing that people are complimenting God’s creation the way it is. No alteration, no adjustment but 100% real. And it’s an amazing feeling! I have learned so much about myself since my transition.

I decided to give my afro a name and call her Amina. People laugh at me when I say that. Why you ask? Because Queen Amina was one of the great queens of Nigeria and when her father died, she succeeded him and became the first and the last queen and during her time. Her strength and courageous attitude was well noted.
Wherever she conquered, she used to order people to build a wall around the town or city, so people still maintain what is now known as 'the walls of Amina.'

When I read this story I thought of my hair, because of its strength, the fact that I let it grow the way it should be, never weakening and representing me and my life.

So that’s my story! It’s a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my hair and I. I know it will be a challenge but so far its worth every moment. =)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Hair Stories of Carmelo Anthony and Hanley Ramirez

So, it seems that this dialogue about the hair stories of male athletes is a formidable one.  People have asked for other examples of my point about Bosh so here are a couple. There's lot's of speculation as to the reason why Carmelo and Hanley have cut of their locks.  Sometimes the decision is  mandatory.  For example, Hanley Ramirez, to his dismay, was advised based on the requirement of the Marlin's Manager, that he had to cut his locks undr the team's new rule of "professionalism".  Why is it that locks and cornrows are not considered professional?  Cornrows and locks are beautiful and natural. What does one's hairstyle have to do with the game of basketball or baseball or any other sport anyway?  The article, per this link, provides some insight into the Ramirez story: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Marlins-find-themselves-in-a-hairy-situation-wit?urn=mlb,151033

Beautiful to see Hanley's little one is still wearing his locks...

Then of course there is  Carmelo Anthony who cut his braids.  Some say it's because he lost a bet and others say it's because he opened a Barber Shop and wore his new cut to support his new business venture.  This article provides all of the speculative detail as well as a video relevant to the bet: http://www.bvonsports.com/2008/11/11/why-did-carmelo-anthony-really-cut-off-his-cornrows/  
The bottom line is that no matter the reason, using these athletes as examples, including Bosh from my last post, there is no doubt that brothers definitely have their hair stories. The conclusion ultimately is that they go through the same changes as women about their hair.  Should I conform or not?  Is wearing my hair naturally (in cornrows or locks as examples) professional? It seems that these kind of decisions place men, and in this case, athletes wondering, whether N.I.C.E. to which my answer is yes!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chris Bosh and His Locks: A Male Hairstory

So, generally when I talk about natural hair and transitioning, I am referring to women but men are involved in these stories too.  Now that Chris Bosh is one of the newly named "Three Kings" of the new Heat trio, Wade, James and Bosh, there is a lot of discussion about them all.  The focus has been on Wade and James primarily so I will focus on Bosh as he has a true hairstory.  I am not a sports fan, per se, but because Miami is where I live, and my husband and son are sports fanatics, I thought I would chime in, just a little bit, but my focus will be hair, of course.  So below is a comment I  found on SI.com to start this discussion (January 25, 2007):

"The In Between"

"Chris Bosh is one of the few players who sport the short braids.
The look: A mini-Afro that can be twisted into tiny braids."
NBA type: Steady rebounder, scorer without the flair of cornrows."

I can't believe that there is an actual hair analysis in that article.  In any event,  subsequently, Chris Bosh, as a Free Agent and very soon before his big decision to go to the Heat, cuts off his trademark locks. This was actually a topic of conversation via the web (see link below).

     This brings to mind a conversation that I had with an athlete that I know who was recently drafted to the NBA.  He used to wear locks and explained to me that he couldn't get any media coverage (front page covers, photo shoots etc.) while he had his locks. He said that his locks were definitely a hindrance to his career so sadly, he cut them off. He said he had regrets about it but it had to be done. 
When he decided to cut his locks, suddenly media outlets suddently wanted an image of him.  He was recently drafted. So, it just makes you think; what was the story associated with Bosh cutting off his locks?

Per a quote from: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Chris-Bosh-cut-his-hair-hasn-t-talked-to-LeBron?urn=nba,251011 , here is a thought...

"Cutting off your "trademark" hair when you're hoping to sell yourself to franchises as a marketable superstar is kind of strange."

In any event, locks or no locks, for the brothers,whether they go for the big chop, where cornrows, or locks...the bottom line is that their hair remains natural. So for Bosh we can presume that Natural Is Cool Enough and that's N.I.C.E.  If we see Bosh with a perm next...well that WILL be kind of strange.  Below are some photos of Bosh's hair journey....



Perhaps Bosh's Tweet says it all:  "I can't believe it's gone...." - Twitter / Chris Bosh: I can't believe it's gone....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrities Natural Hair Do's: What's Your Style?

Ok.  So I am back to hair after recuperating from my Gulf trip and seeing the outlandish results of the BP Oil spill firsthand (see pictures in previous blog post).  But now, back to the primary focus of this blog...natural hair.  It seems that slowly but surely, celebrities are embracing natural hair styles; not all but some.  Below, I have provided recent photos of some celebrities with natural styles.  As we are still in the midst of summer, what are your natural styles?  Take a moment and share.  Whether your hair is long, short, medium length, braided or locked, any ideas on how you accomplish a sense of style and positivity, in terms of your hair, will be an inspiration to others.  Inspire us because N.I.C.E. and we need ideas...
Jill Scott