Martin’s Dream

Five Score

August 28, 1963
At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington
Image Credit

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream.  He had a dream for his children, for my grandmother’s children, for me and for my children.

…A dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed,

‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream . . .

At the Lincoln Memorial, in the year of the Centennial Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the significance of the occasion was highlighted by carefully and not-so-coincidentally chosen words.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that day… Continue reading

How We See Us vs. How Others See Us

I came across a post by The Good Curl that spoke about the “Brown Paper” syndrome that still seems to be prevalent in the Afro Canadian/Afro Caribbean/Afro American community.  She was not impressed with India Arie’s new album cover, claiming that her skin-tone did not seem to be as dark as it naturally is and challenging India’s foothold on self-acceptance.   She was questioning how black people see each other and themselves.

Just for fun, I did a Google Image Search and found what I like to call “The Many Shades of India.”  Here is just a handful below.  How many can you count?  It’s more than fair to say that the power of lighting is astounding…

IndiaArie_Collage

The Many Shades of India
Photo Credit

My response to The Good Curl was that it is often hard for others to see you the way you see yourself. Continue reading

Meteorologist Twisting in the Wind

Did you hear the one about the black meteorologist named Rhonda Lee from Louisiana? She was terminated following her response to a viewer’s expression of possibly derogatory concern, via Facebook, regarding her hair, which is a TWA…

Yeah, it wasn’t funny to me either.

The Facebook of Adversity

The viewer stated:

the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq).

Ms. Lee’s response was:

I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.

Natural Instinct

Now, I must confess that when I first read about this, I was inconsolably outraged. My first instinct was to stand squarely behind my naptural sistah, fist raised to the heavens. Have we not reached a point where a woman’s appearance is kept separate from her ability to do her job? Is society still trying to hold non-whites to a standard of beauty that is palatable for some but not all?

Rhonda, bomaye! Rhonda, bomaye!

I saw nothing wrong with her handling of the situation. She approached the comment with intellect, insight, and respect.

Then I started reading some of the comments following the article on Black Girl with Long Hair. At the time there were only a handful (maybe about 30), and most of them expressed the same outrage I was feeling when I read the article. People called the action taken uncalled-for. People said that the viewer had to be a racist or closed-minded at the least. I read through many of the comments, fist still raised in solidarity, emotions running high for the injustice that had been done to this natural-haired martyr. But some of the comments supported the network’s decision to terminate. Some questioned whether or not race had really played a role in this issue.

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Hmmm… maybe Ms. Lee could be accused of having said too much. Perhaps it would have been better for her to have allowed the network’s PR people handle the comment? They could have issued a statement saying something like

The network takes all necessary steps to ensure that members of its news team look their best while in front of the camera. We support Ms. Lee’s choice of hairstyle and thank you for your loyal viewership.

Ooooooooooooooooooh, that’s gooooood…. but I digress.

Dose of Reality

Those BGLH comments got me thinking. Is it possible that the network actually had a strict policy on public relations and social media, and that they had clearly communicated that policy to all of its staff? Could it be that Ms. Lee had violated that policy?

Methinks that might be legitimate grounds for dismissal…

A Little Light Soapboxing

Let’s talk for a minute about Ms. Lee’s fortitude.

Some commentors accused her of bringing race into the situation when it didn’t belong there. However, it was actually the viewer who pulled race into it by identifying her by her skin colour and not by her name. Despite the professional tone of her response, Ms. Lee was still somehow put into the “Angry Black Woman” category. One thing that bothers me is that the second someone asserts him or herself (regardless of sex, race, orientation, religion, or political views) that person is automatically seen as being defensive.

Not cool.

Now let’s talk about people being so quick to assume the Big Bad Corporate Man has been unfair or unjust.

It’s easy to be blinded by the fact that something allegedly unfair is happening to a visible minority. Because the “victim” here is a black woman whose hair doesn’t look like the conventional professional, we rush to her defense. Because she is educated and articulate, we assume that she is within her rights to dress down people who are supposedly being racist, derogatory, or offensive.

But before we make such judgements or take sides, shouldn’t we get all the facts?

That is all.

Angry Blog Woman

Listen to me, but I don’t wanna hear you!
Photo Credit

For a long time, I actually avoided participating in social media in any way.  I’ve always had strong opinions on the way social media is influencing modern society.  But I’ve also come to realize that it is a very integral part of life nowadays, so I need to get over myself and join the rest of the world in the global village.

One of the key reasons I started Nappy Head Chronicles was that I wanted to be part of a community, trading and sharing.  Just the other day, vinegarandwater  spoke about that very subject on her blog.  I was starting to feel like the community thing was taking shape for me.

Don’t Drop Your Seed Everywhere

As a relatively new blogger, I have been treading quite gingerly when it comes to discussions and commenting.  I’ve tried to choose carefully where to leave my stamp and I’ve tried to make intelligent observations or ask relevant questions.  Sometimes, I’ve thrown in a joke or two.  The feedback has been very positive on my own blog and in the various discussions I’ve participated in on other blogs.

All in all, it has been a very good experience… until today.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Someone in the blogasphere posted about how her mother seemed unsupportive of her decision to become natural and was always trying to get her to “do something” with her hair.  I made the mistake of commenting on her post.  I thought I was being witty and supportive.

Turns out that I was not.  At least not in that particular blogger’s opinion.

She was quite hostile in telling me that she wasn’t sure whether or not I was being snarky and condescending but that she was choosing to believe the worst.  She went on to give me quite the tongue-lashing (or the blog equivalent as such).  She informed me that she doesn’t carry the burden of all black women, and that her post was not whining or a need to cheer up.  She also pointed out that she trusts no one and that I don’t know her or her mother.

I was put in my place.

So What Was the Lesson Here?

Everyone comes into your life as either a blessing or a lesson.  In this case, the lesson IS the blessing.

The lesson — the best laid plans really do often go awry.  No matter how good your intentions are, everyone will not always be delighted by what you have to say.  Not all bloggers are created equal.  Just because they choose to share their thoughts and feelings on a miriad of subjects in such a public way, it doesn’t mean that they want or care about your opinion.

“This is what I have to say.  Read it, but keep your thoughts to yourself.”

It took me a minute to get over the shock at this blogger’s utter cynicism.  Then I just felt sad.  Sad that my words had had negative impact on someone.  Sad that sharing my own experience did not comfort her.  Sad that whatever was going on in her world had hardened her so much.  The good news is that I’m over it.  I’m not so jaded by life that I can’t see silver linings, half-full glasses, or any goodness anywhere at all.

Angry Blog Woman is quite right.  I don’t know her.

And after this, I don’t think I want to know her.

How have you dealt with negative feedback on your blog, on other blogs, or in any other forums?

SuperFudge

Everybody’s been talking about UN Ambassador Susan Rice and her alleged botched handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack in September.  Did she lie to cast President Obama in a better light during the home-stretch of his 2012 campaign?  Is she competent?  Should she be considered a viable candidate for Secretary of State?

So the other night, the lure of late-night television was too much for my tired-but-insomniac eyes to resist.  Jon Stewart was in fine form, yucking it up about the soapbox sermon by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge in Rice’s defence.  Funny stuff.  Check out the clip he showed here:

My favorite part of the video is when Rep. Fudge alludes to not being the most educated person around, only to have her peanut gallery homie remind her that she’s an attorney.  In true Baptist Minister fashion, she checks herself and belts out

“…But I’m close!”

Knee-slapping, I tell you!

But seriously, I applaud Rep. Fudge for speaking out.  Her message was loud and clear: criticize all you want, but don’t question her qualifications for the job.  She spoke boldly and with unwaivering confidence.  I admire that.  I think we need to see more of that from women in positions of power.

I’m not saying whether or not Ambassador Rice was right, or whether or not I agree with Rep. Fudge.  All I’m saying is…

Mmmmmmhmmmmm… Preach!

Protect and Serve Your Own Purpose

Protect by any means necessary!
photo credit

I just read a guest post by Moderne Meid called How Natural Should Protective Styles Be? The post got my blood boiling a little… but in a good way.

I wanted to weigh in and my comment kinda turned into my own personal soap-box-of-a-blog-post.

A Bit of a Rant, Really

Here’s what I had to say:

hi moderne meid. great post!

i’ve always found it funny how concerned people are with other people’s hair situations. to the point where they are telling each other off via forums and blog comments about how this one is selling out and that one shouldn’t use heat and this is or isn’t a big chop… yadda yadda yadda. why can’t people just respect each other’s right to do what ever they want with their own hair?

recently, a group of popular bloggers/vloggers has gotten flack for posting a humorous video about a magic product that makes hair grow. people got offended because all of the girls who appear in the video have very long and beautiful hair (that’s kinda why they are all so popular in the blog/vlog-asphere). the point of the video was totally lost on those with self-esteem and/or jealousy issues. c’mon people, though there really was a serious message behind it, it was all in good fun. we must learn to take ourselves a little less seriously.

but i digress…

i think protective styling has everything to do with protecting your ends, and very little to do with whether the method you use involves natural or unnatural materials or products. some people consider hats a protective style. is a hat acceptable, but not a wig?

honestly, i think there’s nothing wrong with using extensions to keep your hair from the harsh elements. as long as you are smart about it and don’t cause more damage, it’s all good. as you rightly said, we don’t know what the individual circumstances are for the person wearing that wig or weave so we can’t presume to judge.

I think that sometimes, the natural hair community can get a bit carried away with the hair policing. Why can’t we just leave others alone to make their own decisions about their own hair?

What do you think? Should protective styling exclude the use of hair extension and wigs? If so, what do you consider to be an appropriate protective style?

Oversensitive to Making Light

chescaleigh & her youtuber friends share a laugh
photo credit

Just over a month ago, I shared a YouTube video that revealed the so-called Secret to Long Hair (read the original post here). It was a good-natured, fun-loving infomercial spoof that went viral in the natural hair world. The concept was put together by Franchesca Ramsey (aka YouTuber chescaleigh, of Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls fame). She invited some of her YouTube/blogger friends to participate and have a little fun. That was the plan, anyway.

Well, true to chescaleigh form, the video has been receiving some negative criticism.

The following is a sampling of some of the complaints made about the video:

  • insensitivity to the struggle of of others to grow their hair
  • lack of diversity in terms of skin tone/hair texture
  • too many “mixed” chicks and not enough “blackness”
  • locs are not considered “natural”
  • arrogance and condescending

SMH. Really? I mean, REALLY? Locs are not natural? And when will the shade of black stop mattering?

I think the message intended was totally lost on some viewers.

For those of you hiding under a rock who haven’t see the video, here it is again:

The ladies featured in the video recently sat down with Celebrity SoundOff’s Maureen Aladin to discuss natural hair, their personal journies, and the contraversy surrounding the spoof. The interview is in four parts, with parts two and three being the most focused on the video. I think they did a great job addressing the issues. Check that out here:

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 1

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 2

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 3

CSO Secret to Long Natural Hair – Part 4

You can read more on the topic from Cipriana of Urban Bush Babes here, or from chescaleigh in an interview with Afrobella here.

Were you offended by the parady? What did you like or not like about it? Did watching the interview change your opinion?

CoverGirl Comes Alive with Janelle Monae

I’m always too rushed/lazy/confused in the morning to do much more than wash what needs washing and brush what needs brushing.  If I’m feeling like being especially GLAM, I might put on some lip gloss and mascara.

All this to say that happenings in the makeup world don’t usually make ripples in the water for me.  That is, until I stumbled upon these…

Y’all… gone are the days of the stereotypical “Girl-Next-Door.”  CoverGirl continues to break boundaries by featuring the unique and trend-bucking Janelle Monae, who joins the ranks of the emblematic Queen Latifah, P!nk, and Ellen DeGeneres, as its face.

One of the best quotes I’ve come across from Janelle is:

That’s what I’ve always been fighting for – making sure that people love themselves for who they are, and we don’t pick on people because we’re uncomfortable with ourselves, or who they are. That’s been my message, from when I was young to now. There are lots of young girls out there who are struggling with their identities… afraid of being discriminated against or teased. I take risks and use my imagination so that other people will feel free and take risks. That’s my hope. (source: io9.com)

It’s good to see the brand recognize and celebrate diversity.  Sounds like she’s a perfect fit for their campaign!

In the aftermath of Viola Davis and Gabby Douglas receiving flack and negative comments about their hair, what does this new partnership between Janelle and CoverGirl mean to you?

Tar Slinging

I’m going to reveal a secret that so many do not want to talk about: the majority of black women do not have flowing blond hair!  GASP!

BrownButterBeauty - Viola Davis

Beautiful Natural Viola Davis
photo credit

There’s been a lot of talk about Viola Davis at the 2012 Academy Awards.  She chose to ditch the wigs that we are accustomed to seeing her and so many other black celebrities wearing and instead opted to wear her hair pretty much the way it grows out of her head… GASP!!

Consequently, this was followed by chatter about whether or not the look was appropriate for the occasion.  There were equal parts mud (or dare I say tar) slinging for her lack of formality and commendation for her bravery.  Brave?  I guess so, but why is doing what comes natural brave?

Particularly prominent was talk show host Wendy Williams, who disapproved loudly of Ms. Davis’ look.  The natural hair community was up-in-arms over her degrading remarks.  While I acknowledge people’s right to an opinion and the freedom to express it, I feel that women in the media (and particularly black women in the media) have a responsibility to champion our image and to pave the way for the world to embrace it in all its forms, whether it be silken haired or kinky and curly.  Ms. Williams doesn’t have to like natural hair, but she certainly should not be knocking others who do.

I did a quick Google Search of Wendy Williams to see what she considers to be appropriate red carpet hair and (surprise, surprise) I found that she pretty much sports one hair style all the time.  C’mon Wendy. Where’s your sense of individual style and imagination?  And there were a few photos that made me question her right to judge anyone’s appearance, ever.

Wendy Williams' Idea of Flaxen Beauty

Why is this more beautiful?
photo credit

LJ Knight was featured on BGLH asking the question: Are Nappy Headed Insults Making a Pop Culture Comeback?  The focus of her post was the comments made by Ms. Williams, shining a light on the uncomfortable topic of self-love and acceptance.  LJ’s post is well written and expresses an opinion with which I certainly agree: Ms. Williams’ attack on Ms. Davis’ appearance was uncalled for, as well as a step backwards for promoting distinctively black beauty.