Wacky Wednesday: Worst Hair Mistake

Hype and I are always talking about what works and what doesn’t with our hair. It takes trial and error to find out what works best. But this week we’re asking, “What is the worst mistake you’ve made with your hair?”

Da Realist 1

Image Courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image Courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I still consider myself newly “natural,” even though it’s been close to two years (22 months actually) since I stopped relaxing my hair. Maybe that’s because being “natural” has taken a while to get used to. In the time that I’ve been natural, I’ve tried lots of different products–some good, some bad. Most of my mistakes have been minor. . . except for the one rather unfortunate decision to cut my own hair.

I know that trying to cut my own hair was an extremely bad idea. If you’ve read our blog, you know that I’ve had quite an ordeal trying to find someone to do my hair in Iowa. And I just wasn’t feeling my barber at that time. In fact, I had resolved never to go back to her. I decided to try cutting my own hair (something I would not ordinarily do). After all, I cut my husband’s hair all the time, I thought. How bad could my home haircut be? As it turns out, pretty bad. I cut a huge chunk out of my hair–down to the scalp–with the clippers. I was trying to get my fade right in the back. It was a hot mess! There was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better. For the next three weeks of bad hair days, I hid my haircut under a hat whenever I was in public; fortunately, I have a large collection. I eventually went to the barber shop and got my hair cut by a professional again, but I had to wait until my hair grew back. I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone asking who jacked up my ‘fro.

Da Hype 1

Bunch of BananasSo, about a month ago, I had my hair straightened for the first time in 6 months and the first time professionally in over a year. I only straightened it to get my ends clipped. It was bone straight and quite frankly, my hair still has not recovered from the hot comb–there a pieces that will no longer curl properly.

Anyway, that isn’t exactly the mistake I’m referring to, though. The mistake I made wasn’t detrimental or harmful to my hair, it was actually a little humorous. Only a little humorous because I had some place to be that day.

So, we planned to visit some friends who live an hour away. I live in the DC-MD-VA area and everything is at least 45 minutes to an hour away. That morning, I decided to wash and deeply condition my hair. I decided that I needed to make sure I used a conditioner that strengthened and moisturized my hair because it had just been straightened TO DEATH. I decided to mix mashed bananas, honey, and mayonnaise with my favorite conditioner.

I started rinsing out the conditioner and it felt good. I mean really good.

But, then I noticed something: I had banana pieces all over my hair. My tightly coiled hair was not interested in giving up the banana pieces. I washed and rewashed and it just would not come out. Finally, three hours later, my husband (who was tired of waiting for me) comes to me and says, “people online said that this is a regular occurrence with bananas and avocados, and that you should just let your hair dry and it will eventually come out.”

Now, you know I could not go to someone’s house with “banana hair,” so I spent another hour or so more picking out bananas. I got about 80% of the bananas out of my hair before I left, but it wan’t until the next wash that I thought it was completely gone.

Will I do it again? Yes, because my hair never felt better. It was soft, moisturized, and super shiny. Next time, I may consider baby food or make sure I smash the bananas better. I don’t want my kid teasing me again, “Mommy, your hair is straight bananas today!”

Natural Conversations: Deep Conditioners

conditionerWith approximately a year of being “natural” under my belt, I have finally managed to get my hair routine under control. I no longer buy every new product that I see because I am satisfied with the products that I am using. There is, however, one exception–deep conditioners. I am still searching for the perfect one.

I use a deep conditioner about every two weeks. I’ve tried Shea Moisture’s Deep Conditioning Masque and found it to be just okay. After using it with heat and without, I never noticed an improvement in the condition of my hair. I also used Naturally Silk Elements three step conditioning process, which includes a pre-treatment oil, deep nourishing conditioner, and intense repair serum. My hair felt brittle after using this, so I didn’t give it a second chance.

Interestingly enough, the deep conditioning product that has worked best for me is the one that I tried first, Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula with Vitamin E Deep Conditioning Protein Pack. (I’ve been told that there is also an Olive Oil Formula that is very good, but that is not available in my local stores.) After using it for the recommended 10-to-20 minutes, my hair feels stronger, yet soft. The package weighs 60 grams (2.1oz), which is probably enough for just one application unless you have the teeniest of TWAs, and costs about $1.50. So far, I like this deep conditioner the best. It is working for me, but I am still searching. . .

Any suggestions? Do you have a deep conditioner that works well for you? Please share it with us!

Hair We Go Again

Fist pickI’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When we started in this blog in 2013, I never dreamed that so many of my posts would be dedicated to discussing hair. Eventually, Da Hype 1 and I began a category we call “Natural Conversations” in which we–as relatively new naturalistas–discuss what products work best for us. But most of our “hair posts” have not been in that particular vein. In fact, they usually involved one or both of us defending some black woman or girl who was being attacked because of her hair.

Enter the Steve Harvey Show (March 26, 2014). Let me preface this by saying that I am no fan of Steve Harvey’s radio show, his daytime talk show, his books or advice on how women should behave to get a man. But I was reading a post on the For Harriet site about one of his recent shows, and I decided to watch the clip. What I saw made me angry and sick to my stomach at the same time. A newly-wed African-American couple was there seeking advice because the husband did not like his wife’s natural hairstyle. Throughout their nine-year relationship, she had always worn weaves but didn’t want to wear them anymore. When he came home and saw her hair, he behaved like a child or, perhaps, more like a character from some melodramatic nineteenth-century novel. He ran from the house. He then returned to ask his wife if she were wearing a wig. And, if so, she should remove it.

To his credit, Steve Harvey chastised the husband for his extreme behavior and for making his wife feel less than beautiful. He said, “It ain’t your damn head!” Here, I had to laugh because I told my mother something similar–“That’s your head”–when her husband threatened to leave her if she cut off all her hair. But then Harvey brought out psychotherapist, author and blogger Curly Nikki to show some alternate style options. It appeared that his wife’s puff style was really quite distressing to him. Finally, Harvey offered the wife a year’s worth of hair appointments at a salon in her area specializing in natural hair.

Hold up. Wait a minute. So, the solution to the husband’s obsession with a long, silky, Brazilian weave was to find natural styles that were more pleasing to him? I’m confused. Wasn’t it the husband’s attitude that needing “fixing” and not his wife’s hair? Oh, so this actually wasn’t new advice. Steve Harvey was on script: Fix yourself so you can get/keep a man. 

I was angry with the husband for being self-centered and insensitive yet sickened by what appeared to be his self-loathing. A few questions have gnawed at me since I saw this clip:

  1. What did this man think was going on under his wife’s weave for nine years?
  2. Doesn’t he realize that the same hair that he despises also grows naturally out of his own head?
  3. Does he love his wife or the weave?

I suppose I’m asking too much. This is daytime television, after all. Every time I see a discussion on natural hair, it is shallow and disappointing. This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.

___________

Click here for the For Harriet post, where you can see the Steve Harvey clip.

Below are links to some of 2 Dope Sistahs’ posts on black hair:

The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees: The War on Black Hair

How My 6-Year Old Protested her Natural Hair & the Role Tiana Parker Plays

Spoken in Jest: Sheryl Underwood & Afro Hair

Blackness on Exhibit: Choosing to Objectify Our Own Bodies

Beautiful Black Girls

Natural Conversations: Products We Love

When Da Hype 1 and I started this blog, I never imagined that we would be writing about hair. However, several of our posts last year did in fact discuss issues related to the politics of black women’s hair. Having both decided to “go natural,” we discussed our “journeys” on the blog as well. This blog reflects the wide range of conversations between the two of us. And let’s face it, we know “the personal is political,” so we’ve decided to make our conversations about hair a regular addition to the blog. We’re calling it Natural Conversations, and we’re starting with some of favorite hair care products.

Da Realist 1

Hi, my name is Da Realist 1, and I am a product junkie. I’ve had this addiction for many years. When I first went natural, I was randomly trying anything and everything, but I wasn’t sure what worked and what didn’t. In order to bring some order to the madness, I decided to select a line of products and try them for a month. I’m hoping that’s enough time to make a fair assessment. This month I am using products from EDEN Bodyworks. EDEN has three different lines of hair products–Peppermint Tea Tree, JojOba Monoi, and Coconut Shea. Their products contain “no petroleum, mineral oils or sodium sulfates.” The products I tried from the Peppermint Tea Tree line were the All Natural Shampoo, All Natural Conditioner, and All Natural Hair Oil. From the Coconut Shea line, I used the All Natural Cleansing Cowash and All Natural Leave In Conditioner.

EDENThe EDEN products are reasonably priced ($8-$12 at my local Sally Beauty Supply), and they all smell great. After using the tea tree shampoo and conditioner, my scalp was tingly and my hair was clean, without it feeling stripped or hard. The coconut shea cowash and leave in conditioner also worked well for those times when I didn’t want to use shampoo. My favorite products were the leave in conditioner and the hair oil. With the leave in conditioner, my hair feels soft and seems to retain moisture better than with other products I’ve tried. The tea tree oil has a strong minty smell, but that does fade. My scalp tends to get very dry and itchy, and this product really soothed it. It comes in a spray bottle, so I can put it directly on my scalp. Even though I’ll be testing new products next month, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to EDEN.

Da Hype 1

It’s almost a complete year since I did the big chop! I had transitioned for nine months prior, and like many curlies, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I chopped it off!

For the last year, I have tried a variety of products: Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Taliah Waajid, Carol’s Daughter, Darcy’s Botanicals, and more. Some of them did not work for me, while some did. Some of the products did not work in the way that they worked for others, but they were okay on my hair. Some of the products worked for awhile, but when my hair seemed to be going through some type of change, they didn’t seem to work anymore.CastorOil
So, what is working for me now? Right now, I am absolutely in love with castor oil in my hair. It makes my hair soft and it holds moisture better than any other product for me. It is especially useful to me during the winter months when my hair could easily dry out from the cold weather, but it doesn’t with my castor oil.
I use the L.O.C. method (leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream) when twisting my hair. For the oil, I use castor oil. I also rub my scalp and ends with it daily. The remainder that’s left on my hand, I rub on the shaft of my hair. For me, it has been the only oil that has made my hair shine.
I use over the counter castor oil–nothing fancy. I don’t use the Jamaican version, which many swear by. I simply decided to try the over the counter version because it is cheaper and easier to access for me (without having to purchase online). Since I fell in love with it, I felt no reason to try anything else.
I have been using castor oil consistently for about 4 months. For someone like me, someone with tightly coiled/curly hair, nothing else has really penetrated my hair as castor oil. There is a warning: castor oil is thick and may even feel a little weird on your hand, but it has NEVER felt that way on my hair.
So, that’s what’s working for us. What hair care products are working for you? We’d love to hear about them!!!

5 Things I Hate About Air Travel

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigital Photos.net.

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigital Photos.net.

What  the heck happened to air travel? Do you remember when it was something enjoyable? I do. When I was a little girl, I was required to dress up in my “nice” clothes whenever we took a flight. The flight attendants gave me plastic pins shaped like wings.  The trips seemed. . . well, “special.” Even in the not so distant (prior to 9-11) past, I enjoyed the convenience of quickly getting to where I needed to go. Now the trips are irritating and long.  Although I will probably have to fly again soon, my recent trip to Baton Rouge via Atlanta has me convinced that flying is no way for human beings to travel. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow of my recent trip, but I do have a list of the five things I hate most about flying.

5. The traveler who has it all together. Ok, perhaps “hate” is too strong of a word; maybe it’s envy. But, seriously, as I struggle wearing the most comfortable clothes I can find (that don’t make me look like a vagabond), I marvel at those women who are always so wonderfully put together at the airport. I see them walking through the airports looking beautiful with their perfect coifs—curly, neo-soul afros or silky long locs, stylish outfits, designer rolling suitcases, and three-inch heels. How do they do it? Meanwhile, I look harried wearing jeans and a baseball cap. Whether I check my bags or drag them myself, I never have things quite “together.” (I will concede that part of this is because I am a “bag lady.” I can’t hurry up ‘cause I’ve got too much stuff.)

4. Cramped seats on the plane. Can these seats get any smaller? We’re packed in there like sardines! I have a bit of a phobia about strange people touching me, but there is no way to get around it. And wouldn’t you know it, I wound up with the flu after this trip. I’ve had the flu shot, so I blame it on all those “close encounters” with my fellow travelers. I’m thinking of wearing a surgical mask next time because I don’t have time to be sick. So, if you see me, don’t laugh.

3. The overpriced food in the airport. I hate the expensive food that lacks taste and poor service that goes along with it. ‘Nuff said.

2. TSA Checks. This was almost my number one, but then I had to demote it after my return trip. I suppose everybody hates these checks—putting all your liquid toiletries in a quart-sized Ziploc bag; stripping off your outerwear, hat, shoes, belt, and jewelry; passing through a scanner; and, finally, frantically getting re-dressed on the other side as the next passenger’s belongings come sliding out of the x-ray machine. It feels like going to prison instead of preparing to take a trip, but we have gotten used to these invasions of privacy that are supposed to keep us safe.

Dangerous Hair

Security risk twists

Apparently, my hair, which was twisted in anticipation of a twist-out the next day, was a security risk. The TSA officer told me that my hair had set off the machine and asked if I would allow her to pat my hair down (as if I could say “no” and still get on the airplane). So, she put her hands all up in and through my hair. I wish I had asked her what was it about my hair that was suspicious.

1. Delays, Delays, Delays. I had four different flight cancellations. My problem with cancellations is that they often seem random. There was no snow in ATL when I arrived. In fact, it was over 40 degrees outside, but my flight to Iowa had been canceled. The weather wasn’t bad, so what gives? There was no explanation, and I just felt helpless and hopeless.

I know that some people were delayed much longer, but it took me an extra day plus 13 hours to get home. I had never been quite so happy to touch down in the Hawkeye State. I also had to fly into a different airport, two hours away from home and the airport where my car was parked. I must have looked quite frazzled because a flight attendant rubbed my arm and said, “Good luck with whatever you’re going through,” as I exited the plane. Strange, I thought, but I had no time for chit-chat. My ride was waiting for me, and I had to get the heck outta there.

Even though this was an unpleasant experience for me, there were some lovely Delta Airlines employees who did their best to get me on alternate flights when mine were canceled. Shout out to telephone representatives Lola and Elaine and the young woman at the service desk in Atlanta, whose name I didn’t get. I’m sure they don’t pay y’all enough.

5 Things I Hate About Air Travel

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigital Photos.net.

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigital Photos.net.

What  the heck happened to air travel? Do you remember when it was something enjoyable? I do. When I was a little girl, I was required to dress up in my “nice” clothes whenever we took a flight. The flight attendants gave me plastic pins shaped like wings.  The trips seemed. . . well, “special.” Even in the not so distant (prior to 9-11) past, I enjoyed the convenience of quickly getting to where I needed to go. Now the trips are irritating and long.  Although I will probably have to fly again soon, my recent trip to Baton Rouge via Atlanta has me convinced that flying is no way for human beings to travel. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow of my recent trip, but I do have a list of the five things I hate most about flying.

5. The traveler who has it all together. Ok, perhaps “hate” is too strong of a word; maybe it’s envy. But, seriously, as I struggle wearing the most comfortable clothes I can find (that don’t make me look like a vagabond), I marvel at those women who are always so wonderfully put together at the airport. I see them walking through the airports looking beautiful with their perfect coifs—curly, neo-soul afros or silky long locs, stylish outfits, designer rolling suitcases, and three-inch heels. How do they do it? Meanwhile, I look harried wearing jeans and a baseball cap. Whether I check my bags or drag them myself, I never have things quite “together.” (I will concede that part of this is because I am a “bag lady.” I can’t hurry up ‘cause I’ve got too much stuff.)

4. Cramped seats on the plane. Can these seats get any smaller? We’re packed in there like sardines! I have a bit of a phobia about strange people touching me, but there is no way to get around it. And wouldn’t you know it, I wound up with the flu after this trip. I’ve had the flu shot, so I blame it on all those “close encounters” with my fellow travelers. I’m thinking of wearing a surgical mask next time because I don’t have time to be sick. So, if you see me, don’t laugh.

3. The overpriced food in the airport. I hate the expensive food that lacks taste and poor service that goes along with it. ‘Nuff said.

2. TSA Checks. This was almost my number one, but then I had to demote it after my return trip. I suppose everybody hates these checks—putting all your liquid toiletries in a quart-sized Ziploc bag; stripping off your outerwear, hat, shoes, belt, and jewelry; passing through a scanner; and, finally, frantically getting re-dressed on the other side as the next passenger’s belongings come sliding out of the x-ray machine. It feels like going to prison instead of preparing to take a trip, but we have gotten used to these invasions of privacy that are supposed to keep us safe.

Dangerous Hair

Security risk twists

Apparently, my hair, which was twisted in anticipation of a twist-out the next day, was a security risk. The TSA officer told me that my hair had set off the machine and asked if I would allow her to pat my hair down (as if I could say “no” and still get on the airplane). So, she put her hands all up in and through my hair. I wish I had asked her what was it about my hair that was suspicious.

1. Delays, Delays, Delays. I had four different flight cancellations. My problem with cancellations is that they often seem random. There was no snow in ATL when I arrived. In fact, it was over 40 degrees outside, but my flight to Iowa had been canceled. The weather wasn’t bad, so what gives? There was no explanation, and I just felt helpless and hopeless.

I know that some people were delayed much longer, but it took me an extra day plus 13 hours to get home. I had never been quite so happy to touch down in the Hawkeye State. I also had to fly into a different airport, two hours away from home and the airport where my car was parked. I must have looked quite frazzled because a flight attendant rubbed my arm and said, “Good luck with whatever you’re going through,” as I exited the plane. Strange, I thought, but I had no time for chit-chat. My ride was waiting for me, and I had to get the heck outta there.

Even though this was an unpleasant experience for me, there were some lovely Delta Airlines employees who did their best to get me on alternate flights when mine were canceled. Shout out to telephone representatives Lola and Elaine and the young woman at the service desk in Atlanta, whose name I didn’t get. I’m sure they don’t pay y’all enough.

Natural Conversations: Products We Love

When Da Hype 1 and I started this blog, I never imagined that we would be writing about hair. However, several of our posts last year did in fact discuss issues related to the politics of black women’s hair. Having both decided to “go natural,” we discussed our “journeys” on the blog as well. This blog reflects the wide range of conversations between the two of us. And let’s face it, we know “the personal is political,” so we’ve decided to make our conversations about hair a regular addition to the blog. We’re calling it Natural Conversations, and we’re starting with some of favorite hair care products.

Da Realist 1

Hi, my name is Da Realist 1, and I am a product junkie. I’ve had this addiction for many years. When I first went natural, I was randomly trying anything and everything, but I wasn’t sure what worked and what didn’t. In order to bring some order to the madness, I decided to select a line of products and try them for a month. I’m hoping that’s enough time to make a fair assessment. This month I am using products from EDEN Bodyworks. EDEN has three different lines of hair products–Peppermint Tea Tree, JojOba Monoi, and Coconut Shea. Their products contain “no petroleum, mineral oils or sodium sulfates.” The products I tried from the Peppermint Tea Tree line were the All Natural Shampoo, All Natural Conditioner, and All Natural Hair Oil. From the Coconut Shea line, I used the All Natural Cleansing Cowash and All Natural Leave In Conditioner.

EDENThe EDEN products are reasonably priced ($8-$12 at my local Sally Beauty Supply), and they all smell great. After using the tea tree shampoo and conditioner, my scalp was tingly and my hair was clean, without it feeling stripped or hard. The coconut shea cowash and leave in conditioner also worked well for those times when I didn’t want to use shampoo. My favorite products were the leave in conditioner and the hair oil. With the leave in conditioner, my hair feels soft and seems to retain moisture better than with other products I’ve tried. The tea tree oil has a strong minty smell, but that does fade. My scalp tends to get very dry and itchy, and this product really soothed it. It comes in a spray bottle, so I can put it directly on my scalp. Even though I’ll be testing new products next month, I’m sure I’ll be coming back to EDEN.

Da Hype 1

It’s almost a complete year since I did the big chop! I had transitioned for nine months prior, and like many curlies, I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I chopped it off!

For the last year, I have tried a variety of products: Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Taliah Waajid, Carol’s Daughter, Darcy’s Botanicals, and more. Some of them did not work for me, while some did. Some of the products did not work in the way that they worked for others, but they were okay on my hair. Some of the products worked for awhile, but when my hair seemed to be going through some type of change, they didn’t seem to work anymore.CastorOil
So, what is working for me now? Right now, I am absolutely in love with castor oil in my hair. It makes my hair soft and it holds moisture better than any other product for me. It is especially useful to me during the winter months when my hair could easily dry out from the cold weather, but it doesn’t with my castor oil.
I use the L.O.C. method (leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream) when twisting my hair. For the oil, I use castor oil. I also rub my scalp and ends with it daily. The remainder that’s left on my hand, I rub on the shaft of my hair. For me, it has been the only oil that has made my hair shine.
I use over the counter castor oil–nothing fancy. I don’t use the Jamaican version, which many swear by. I simply decided to try the over the counter version because it is cheaper and easier to access for me (without having to purchase online). Since I fell in love with it, I felt no reason to try anything else.
I have been using castor oil consistently for about 4 months. For someone like me, someone with tightly coiled/curly hair, nothing else has really penetrated my hair as castor oil. There is a warning: castor oil is thick and may even feel a little weird on your hand, but it has NEVER felt that way on my hair.
So, that’s what’s working for us. What hair care products are working for you? We’d love to hear about them!!!

Natural in Iowa: A Work in Progress (Update)

I did not have a black beauty epiphany about the cultural relevance of natural hair when

Fully transitioned TWA

Fully transitioned TWA

I decided to let my relaxer grow out. I have always loved the wonderful, creative things that we black women can do with our hair. Mine had been “fried, dyed, and laid to the side” for quite some time. The decision to “go natural” was really just a matter of circumstance. I was happy with my relaxer and my pixie cut. Of course, there were some issues. In the summer, the relaxer changed the color of my hair from black to brown. Also, I had a spot where my hair seemed to be thinning, and I was sure this came from all the years of relaxers. But I probably would have still been wearing it the same way if I had not moved to Iowa two years ago. Yes. . . Iowa.

Finding a salon where I can get my hair done is usually one of the first things I do when I move to a new place. I can usually accomplish this by simply spotting someone with a stylish cut and inquiring where she got her ‘do. But the pickings were slim here. I found no one whose hair I admired. I searched the web and I found a few salons that looked promising. One turned out to be closed. Another looked so shady that I didn’t go in. I tried one very professional-looking salon, but the hair stylist gave me a haircut that I could have done at home with a bowl. If I wanted to find a good salon, I was probably going to have to drive to Des Moines, a much larger city than where I live. I just wasn’t willing to make a two-hour drive to get my hair done. Finally, I decided I would go to the barber shop with my husband and get one of the barbers to cut my hair.

Well, my hair looked okay, but not really the way that I wanted it. It wasn’t laid. This went on for a while, as I debated internally and with Da Hype 1 about what to do. Finally, I decided that what I’d been doing was no longer working for me. It was time to shake things up, so in January 2013 I stopped relaxing my hair.

Four weeks after last relaxer. Only the top remained.

Four weeks after last relaxer. Only the top remained.

That was seven months ago. The perm is long gone and my TWA is in effect. Since my hair was already short, there was no need for “the big chop.” After one month, most of the perm was gone anyway.

I’ve received some compliments: My neighbor told me that my hair was “cool.” But I’ve also been informed that my hair is “densely packed” and that I need something to “loosen the curl pattern.” Hmm.. . sounds like code for nappy. But I’m not bothered by that.

At this point, I don’t know if I can consider the “transition” a success. It’s a work in progress. I don’t know what the future holds. Will I become impatient and relax it again? Will I keep it short, let it grow? Who knows? Wish me luck, y’all.

Update 11-25-2013:

My Afro-puff Selfie

My Afro-puff Selfie

Since I wrote this post three months ago, I have had some growing pains. I had my hair cut into a kind of modified Mohawk. I didn’t shave the sides off, but it was low. After a while, I had to admit that the cut was not really for me. My grandmother always said I had a “moon face,” and it was on full display with the Mohawk. So, I cut it off, and I started over.

I must confess that I still don’t quite know what to do with my hair. Last week I blow dried it for the first time and found that I could make a serviceable Afro-puff. Sometimes I think about getting braids or locs, but for now I’m sticking with my TWA.

Beautiful Black Girls*

(Because it needs to be said)

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I want to say

Just got so say something

About those beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rocking Afro puffs, dreadlocks, and braids

I see you

Making it do what it do

You so fierce

Everyone wants to be like you

What? Don’t tell me you didn’t know!

Tiana, Lamya, Nyla, Lauren, and Nikia

Go ‘head girls!

I see you

Cutting your eyes

Looking so cute

With your beads that match the skinny jeans and the shoelaces and your backpack

For all my smart, sassy, introverted, extroverted

Singing, writing, dancing, swimming, skating

Ball-playing, bike-riding, double-dutch jumping, chess-playing, music-loving

Princesses and tomboys

Keep doing your thang!

Brava, young ladies!

You should know

I’m sitting at home, in the audience, on the sidelines

Cheering you on

With tears in my eyes

For all of you beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rockin’ dope Afro puffs, dreadlocks and braids

©2 Dope Sistahs, 2013

*Inspired by my favorite poet, Nikki Giovanni and her poem “Beautiful Black Men”

Fixing My ‘Do and Getting My Fix at the Barber Shop

Since I started wearing my hair short in college, I have often gone to a barber shop to get haircuts. It can be quite troublesome trying to find a good salon when I move to a new place, but I can usually find a good black barber shop with ease. And, I KNOW somebody “up in there” can cut my hair. In fact, I went to the barber shop today to “fix my ‘do” and to “get my fix.”bbshop

I had to fix my hairdo (or my ‘do) because my TWA had gotten a little raggedy. I like a nice fade in the back, and the taper had definitely grown out. However, living in Iowa has made me appreciate my barber shop in some unexpected ways as well.

  1. The belonging. It’s like Cheers, “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” ( I may be dating myself with the Cheers reference.) When I walk into the shop, the barbers know my name. They speak or nod their heads, giving me the silent “what’s up.”
  2. The politics. I usually get a good dose of politics when I’m there. They supported Pres. Obama in his re-election campaign, and they also support local candidates for office. I appreciate the historical continuity of their activism in the community.
  3. The events. Concerts, poetry slams, fish fries, etc. I would have never known that some of these events were taking place if I had not gone into the shop.
  4. The conversations. Dramatic sometimes, often comedic, I get a kick out of barber shop conversations. I love the street scholars who know everything about everything. The debates are epic–sports, politics, music, television. You name it; they’ve argued about it. Think of Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy playing the barbers in Coming to America. Think of the Ice Cube movie Barbershop.

I used to find these conversations infuriating, but now I hear the black oral tradition when I listen. I hear “toasts,” and urban bad men tales like “Stagger Lee,” and “the dozens” (or snaps). The barber shop is where I get my hair fixed and my cultural fix.