Friday, October 22, 2010

Jawn Murray/Don Imus: Two Sides of the Same Disrespectful Coin

When did disrespect become differentiated into categories of severity based on who it comes from? When did we get to the point that it's acceptable for us to demean and disrespect one another? Jawn Murray, a gossip columnist for the Tom Joyner Morning Show and AOL Black Voices put a post on Twitter stating that "militant nappy headed angry black women" need to get a life and get a perm. I could not believe my eyes when I read it. I was wondering where all of that venom for black women came from. It was reminiscent of Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers women's basket ball team when he referred to them as "nappy headed hoes". In fact it was the equivalent. Using their platforms, Jawn and Don took a group of women and categorized them in a negative light. The only difference was the way the black journalists handled it. When Don Imus made his infamous remarks, everyone including Tom Joyner called for his dismissal from his show. They called for African Americans to boycott the sponsors of Imus' show until he was fired. With regard to Jawn Murray....they did and said nothing. Jawn Murray works for media outlets whose target audiences are African Americans. It was not addressed by any African American media outlet or African American media personality. There was no outrage by the African Americans in the media. In fact many have posted Twitter posts to Jawn showing their support. Jawn Murray posted a half hearted apology on youtube where he essentially said, "I'm sorry if you were offended". Not once did he acknowledge that it was wrong and that he shouldn't have said it. He put the responsibility onto the people that he offended.

Why is this? Why is it ok for Jawn Murray to disrespect black women but not Don Imus or any other non black person? Why am I as a black woman expected to just let it roll off of my back and keep it moving? Why should I accept a hollow apology from him? I don't know when and how these decisions were made but they are completely without my consent. Disrespect is the same no matter whom or where it comes from. I and many black women have not "consented" to being disrespected by ANYONE. If the African Americans in the media are truly crusaders of the equality and well being of African Americans, they should crusade regardless of whom or what color the transgressor is. If it was necessary for Don Imus to lose his job, I believe the same punishment should be leveled against Jawn Murray and anyone else who dares to do this again. It's disappointing to see how passively this situation is being handled. I was and still am outraged. Because it became obvious that I couldn't rely on the African Americans in the media to step up and address this, I forwarded his tweet to every conservative station and media personality I could think of. My hope is that they will be so intrigued by the hypocrisy of it all that they won't be able to help jumping on it like a dog with a bone. If the African Americans in the media have to be shamed into addressing this....then so be it.

And I will make NO apologies for that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Natural Hair: No Limits

I was at the track this morning doing my daily walk/run. Shortly after I arrived, it started to rain lightly. Determined to stay on track with my exercise routine, I did not let the rain deter me so I continued on. There was one other person at the track doing sprints. As I continued on, it started to rain harder. It wasn't heavy rain but enough that it would have sent some people running back to their car. As I continued my laps, I came up on the guy doing sprints and he stopped me and asked me, "Aren't you gonna mess up your hair?". The question threw me off at first because I haven't worried about my hair in the weather in years. I laughed and replied, "Sweetie my hair is natural so the rain won't hurt it one bit". He smiled and went back to his sprints. As I continued to walk, it got me thinking about when my hair was relaxed. There were so many things I wouldn't do because I didn't want to mess up my hair. Things like swimming, outdoor exercise, tennis and softball. These are things I love to do. It's so crazy that I was allowing my hair to dictate what I did or didn't do. Every since I went natural, my hair has never come up as a reason to not do something. It's like India Arie's song, I am not my hair. Now that my hair is natural, my hair frees me rather instead of limiting me. What a wonderful revelation! Running with the rain coming down on my hair and face was just wonderful this morning and is definitely something I would do again.

Natural Hair, No Limits....

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I went to the funeral for my close friend's mother today. I couldn't help but think about my mother who I lost 6 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been 6 years. In a lot of ways, it still feels like it happened yesterday. Fortunately the overwhelming sorrow and pain that I initially felt has over time been replaced by the loving memories I have of her. I don't think it's something that you ever get over, you just simply get used to it. Wounds do indeed heal over time. There is still a huge void in my life that will never be filled. Truth be told, I don't want it to be filled. No one can take the place of my Mother. She is too special, too beautiful and too precious to me for anyone or anything to take her place. Even though she is no longer here physically, I feel her presence all around me every day. It feels like she is watching over me, still protecting me from all things, most of all myself.

When I saw my friend today, I was hurting so much for him. I knew exactly what he was feeling. It's something I wouldn't wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy. I was thinking about my initial struggles. The hardest part was I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone because I didn't have any peers who understood what I was going through. People like to throw a lot of cliches at you at a time like this...."she's in a better place", "she's not in pain anymore" blah blah blah. Even though I knew these things to be true, they didn't help at the time. I couldn't even fully wrap my mind around the fact that she was gone so how people expected me to reach such revelations so soon. I could intellectualize it but I couldn't internalize it yet. I just needed and wanted people to listen. But people toss those cliches at you and go back to their own lives and that's when it really hits you. That's when the walls close in and you struggle to cope. That's when the sleepless nights, the endless tears, the random and spontaneous breakdowns occur. Sure everyone tells you to call them anytime if you need them but realistically you can't do that because every day of your life is a struggle. Tears are shed every day, sometimes all day. People have their own lives and they can't allow them to be overtaken by someone else's grief. I did have friends that I thought could have done better about being there for me initially. I realized it's an uncomfortable subject. No one really wants to explore something like this so deeply for a long period of time because it makes them think about the mortality of their own Mother hence the cliches to try to cheer you up with a quick fix. At the time I thought this was selfish and had a lot of anger about it but now I understand. Among my peers, I was the first to lose her mother and I really resented being first, not that I wished harm on any one's mother. It was hard because I didn't have anyone I could really talk to. I didn't have anyone who really understood, who was able to face the subject because they had already been through it. I resented it because since I went through it first, I would have to provide my friends with the support and comfort that I really needed but never really got. Anger on top of grief is a lethal combination. I was a ticking time bomb ready to explode. I vowed I would not help anyone by reliving the worst thing that ever happened to me so that I could provide them with insight. It wasn't fair, I didn't get the benefit of any one's insight, why should anyone get the benefit of mine? I wanted someone to listen to me and cry with me and hold me while I cried. I was pretty far gone for several years until I finally went to counseling and I finally got what I needed - a safe venue to talk and say everything I was thinking and feeling with being interrupted with idiotic cliches that don't help and without fear of judgment. It felt like a tremendous load was lifted off of me and I was able to live again without guilt. I always felt that if I stopped grieving, it was a betrayal to her but I finally realized that to continue grieving was a betrayal to her. She loved me and wanted me to be happy and wanted me to be OK. In my spirit I could feel her telling me just that so I was able to let go of the grief. Do know that I still grieve at different times like on special days or it could just be a normal day where it just hits me like it just happened but it's not continuous. I'm able to think of her and smile and sometimes even laugh. She was a pretty funny person.

With regard to my friend, I am happy to provide him with my shoulders, my ears and my insight. I'm so glad to be free of resentment. If I weren't, it might have kept me from truly being there for him and giving him what I know he so desperately needs.

Mama, thank you for loving me so much. Thank you for teaching me right from wrong. Thank you for continuing to guide me, even from the beyond....I love you with all my heart.....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dancing A Jig??? Seriously???

Apparently the shenanigans continued at the Braves game that my department went to. The guy I mentioned in my blog titled Are We A Multi Cultured Society Or Are We Faking the Funk was apparently having a good time at the game and was dancing. I don't think I mentioned that I am his manager at work. To protect his identity I will him Patrick. Anyway, another manager came up to me today and said and I quote, "Patrick was having a good time at the game. He was dancing a jig" Dancing a jig? Seriously? In the year 2010, he tells me that someone was "dancing a jig"? How do you not know that reference is offensive and totally inappropriate? I was so taken aback, I was speechless. When I regained my ability to speak, I really didn't know what to say. There was no way for me to know what would trip off of my tongue so in the interest of maintaining professionalism, I didn't say anything. I really wish I had said something now. But based on what I know about this person, he would have simply pleaded ignorance which would have only pissed me off more. Dancing a jig.....It's not the damnedest thing I've ever heard but it's the damnedest thing I've heard today. For as far as we've come in some areas, we've travelled as far backwards in others. We will simply file this under #youareadumbass

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Are We Really A Multicutural Society Or Are We Just Faking The Funk??

So I was at work today and some people were talking about the Braves game that the department is attending tonight. A couple of people were talking about doing the "Tomahawk Chop". For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a motion that the fans make with their hands simulating a chopping motion with a tomahawk in hand. Someone mentioned that it was offensive to Native Americans. That person happened to be Native American and he said that in the past at Braves games, he has asked people not to do it because it was offensive and would do the same tonight. Everyone laughed and completely dismissed this. One person even had the audacity to say that they were still going to do it and there was no reason for anyone to find it to be offensive. I was outdone and incensed. Although I am not Native American, I am African American and am all too familiar with symbols that offend an entire race of people. I asked them how dare they tell him what he should be offended by. I said it was totally inappropriate to tell someone who's ancestors were basically annihilated what he should find to be offensive. A young Latino woman said that she's not offended when bars serve chips in sombreros on the Cinco De Mayo. I told her, just wait until the racial profiling laws concerning Latinos catch on nationwide, then she might feel differently about symbols that are offensive to her culture. Her people have not been oppressed like Native Americans and African Americans but the writing is certainly on the wall that we are headed down that road. What galls me about this whole situation is how this society thinks they don't have to respect or recognize the culture and struggles of others. Society doesn't want to acknowledge how those past struggles have spilled over into today and affects how people are treated and how people are thought of. Nobody wants to call a spade a spade. Native Americans had their land stolen and were damn near obliterated by the so called "founding fathers". African Americans were kidnapped from their home, brought to a strange land against their will and forced to work for free building a country in which they have not had all of their inalienable rights for the overwhelming majority of this country's existence. They were raped, beaten, hanged, murdered and every other atrocity you can imagine. What people are most unwilling to acknowledge is that these atrocities were perpetrated by the government, not some random renegades carrying out their own agenda. We are all expected to not only revere these people but also allow these crimes to be swept under the rug while the same mentality continues to run amok in a still pervasive and lately not too subtle manner. I don't expect white people and/or the government to apologize for the sins of the past. But I do expect it to be acknowledged as the greatest crime against humanity and that it still has its effects today. I would also like for it to be acknowledged that white people benefit from slavery. I don't expect them to relinquish the "white privilege" because I'm sure I wouldn't if in their shoes. Why would I reject something that makes my life easier? All I'm saying is just acknowledge it....acknowledge it. Racism is still here contrary to popular belief. Remember we are only one generation removed from Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Act is less than 50 years old.

I guess when you live in a society that gives you the luxury of believing your culture is the only one that matters, it's easy to get tunnel vision causing you to be dismissive of others but that doesn't make it right.........There are other people living here too, open your eyes and your mind....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Has Become Of Music???

I normally only listen to CD's and MP3 player because the music of today just doesn't do it for me. Today on my home, I decided to turn on the radio...BIG MISTAKE!!! I just can't believe this garbage passes for music. Nobody really sings anymore, everybody sounds the same and have any of these artists ever heard of instruments? Must everything be combined with tracks? Can I get a piano, a guitar, some horns, some strings something???? Music is no longer a's a money making machine. Back in the days of real music artist didn't make as much money as they do now but they put out a quality product. Music had passion and meaning. More importantly, it made the listener feel something, be it happiness, sadness, in love, out of love and more. You can tell the artists truly loved their craft and not just the perks that came along with it. When I hear the music today, I don't hear that love and passion for the craft, only love of money, fame and sex. I've heard some music (which shall remain nameless) that any self respecting artist should have felt ashamed to let it leave the studio. I would even steal any of the music let alone buy it. Now I do not condone bootlegging. I believe we should pay artists for their contribution, especially when it has true value. When I'm listening to my old school music I often find myself asking what has become of all of our true music heroes? Have they been completely ousted from the industry for which they laid the very foundation? Does the rest of the world miss them at all? I know I do. When I'm listening to Whitney, MJ, Aretha, Chaka, Donny, Marvin, Debarge, Tevin, Billie....just to name a few, I realize what a tremendous void there is in the music industry today. These are voices that move me and shake me to my core. We need real singers again and stat..... I am encouraged to see some of our artist returning to the scene but I wonder if they will be embraced as much as they should be. They deserves all the accolades that these so called artists get and more. I for one am going to do my part by being first to buy their CD's and being front and center at their concerts. I hope everyone else will do the same. We have to show all these artists that we love and appreciate them and their truly valuable contributions they've made to the world of real music. Old School Forever and hoping the Old School will finally take over the new school.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Henna....How I Love Thee, You Keep Away The Grays

I have been obsessed with my hair since I went natural a little over four years ago. I have enjoyed becoming reacquainted with my hair. I was constantly lurking natural hair sites soaking up every piece of information I could. During the process, I became a serious product junkie. All I needed was to hear about a product and I was off to the store to try it out. I had so many hair products that I had to keep them all in a separate bathroom. LOL! One product that I read about from time to time but never thoroughly was henna. For the most part, I read that it was for the purpose of coloring the hair. Despite being lured by so many other products, I didn't take the bait about henna right away. I was still using a commercial color for my gray hairs so I never felt compelled to use henna.

In recent months, I started moving away from a lot of commercial hair products and more toward natural products such as coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba, etc. When I noticed my grays starting to come back, I decided this was just as good a time as any to start using henna. With the help of my friend, Cassandra, I did my first application. When I rinsed it out, I was pleasantly surprised!! My hair felt strong and thicker. I've always wanted really thick hair so I can have big afro puffs as my hair gets longer. I finished styling my hair and was very pleased with the results. The henna gave me beautiful brownish auburn color and is even more enhanced in bright light or sunlight. I also noticed my hair had a beautiful shine to it as well. I was so hooked at first, I was using henna every two weeks! Now I only use it once a month. As a result of the strengthening qualities of henna, I have been able to eliminate yet another commercial product from my collection of products - Aphogee Protein Treatments. I'm actually glad about that because Aphogee stinks all to be damned.

I strongly recommend henna for any woman who wants stronger, healthier hair. You won't be disappointed.....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Am I Militant Because My Hair Is Natural??

Every since I went natural, practically everyone I know says that I am militant. This is particularly true among women. They sometimes even call me Angela Davis. Don't get me wrong, as I don't find these descriptions to be insulting however I do wonder why they are inextricably linked to my decision to wear my natural hair. The dictionary defines militant as: vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause; engaged in warfare or fighting. What exactly does this have to do with hair? It has absolutely nothing to do with hair nor does it have anything to do with why I wear my hair natural. Let's be clear, I do consider myself to be a supporter of causes, especially those affecting African Americans but I have been that way all of my adult life only four of which my hair was natural. So what exactly is it that these people are saying. Are thy actually suggesting that at the precise moment the remaining relaxed ends were snipped from my hair, some switch inside of me automatically turned on causing me to become a militant person? That is absolutely asinine. Like I said, I don't find these descriptions to be insulting however if I am going to be described as such, I'd prefer that it be because of my passion, my overwhelming sense of right and wrong and my strong desire to a level playing field for all people, especially African Americans not because I choose to wear my own hair with no chemical treatments.

So let's examine why I an no doubt other women with natural hair are described as militant. I have a theory and I am anxious to see your input and hopefully spark a healthy debate. It is obvious that more African American women wear their hair relaxed rather than natural. What's ironic is that though it is not their true texture, it is considered the norm. Could it be that when an African American woman with relaxed hair is face to face with a woman with natural hair, it creates an unwanted moment of self examination? I believe that even though I wear my hair natural, there is a strong desire to keep it from becoming the norm as it should be. Let's be honest, how can alteration of your hair's natural appearance legitimately be considered the norm. I submit that by labeling a woman with natural hair as militant, it serves as a distinction which allows society to put them in a separate compartment outside the norm thereby sustaining the comfort level of women who choose to relax their hair. Don't misunderstand, this is not a judgment of women who relax their despite the factI and other women often feel judged for wearing our natural hair. I am in no position to judge those women because my hair was relaxed for much longer that it was natural hair. I just wish that natural hair could be considered what is is, just hair. I also would like for people to stop projecting their issues of self loathing on to me by calling me militant or giving me some long, unsolicited soliloquy about why they cannot go natural. I do not expect every black woman in the world to go natural nor do I care to be perfectly honest. Just be who and what you are and be secure in that. I make no apologies for who and what I am. I've been unapologetic, relaxed and natural......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Natural Journey - Four Years and Counting

I've been natural for about 4 years now. To say it's been a journey would be an understatement. When I first went natural, it wasn't with any particular purpose in mind. It was a knee jerk decision to be perfectly honest though I was considering it in the back of mind. I was struggling to cope with losing my mother and had finally made the decision to enter counseling. The first few sessions made a world of difference. I began to feel a sense of release though I had a very long way to go. One day i was on my way to meet a client when something came over me. I called and rescheduled my appointment, drove straight to the closest barber shop to my house, sat down in the chair and said "Cut it all off". Everyone was looking at me like I had just stepped off of a space ship. My hair was shoulder length so I guess they couldn't believe I actually wanted to cut all of my hair off but I had never been so committed about anything in my whole life. I sat there as he snipped away with the scissors and then next the clippers. My shoulder length relaxed hair was now about an inch of natural hair. I turned around to the mirror and said "Oh my God, what have I done?" The barber said "Girl, are you crazy? That looks so fly on you. That's a wrap!" The rest of the shop cosigned his statements. I was immensely appreciative of the compliments but I left the shop feeling unsure of myself. I went home and constantly stared at myself in the mirror trying to fully take in what I had done. After a while, it started to grow on me so I decided I was going to go out and show off my new do. I hopped in the shower. It was so nice to let the hot water run all over my head, something I would have never considered when my hair was relaxed unless I was prepared to go through a 2 hour styling process. I figured, what the hell, might as well go ahead and wash and condition my new do while I'm at. When I stepped out of the shower, I started to apply my leave in conditioner and rediscovered the natural pattern of my hair and fell in love instantly. African American hair is so beautiful in the way it coils and does it's own thing. It's much more interesting than straight hair. I put a little styling gel on it, examined my hair from every angle. I looked at myself straight on in the mirror and said "Damn girl, you do look fly!" I got dressed, put on my make up and big hoop earrings and was out the door. I got compliments at every turn. I vowed on that day that I would never apply any more of the creamy crack (relaxers) to my hair. When I went back to my next counseling appointment, she looked at me and said, "you look like the weight of the world has been lifted off of you". I felt better than I had felt in two years. I no longer felt like the shell of myself I had become after my Mom died. I felt alive again. I kept my hair short for about 6 months then I decided to start growing it out. At first it was cool but then I reached a very awkward stage. I referred to it as the "Esther Rolle" stage, not short enough to be funky like the big chop but not long enough for the full hairstyles I desired. This was difficult for me. I felt self conscious and ugly at times. Looking back now I realize it was because I hadn't fully discovered everything my hair was capable of. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my hair or how to do it but I was certain I didn't want to relax it again. I decided to get kinky twists extensions to help me get through this period. I really enjoyed the twists but I was ready to set my hair free. After about 8 months of the kinky twists I did just that. My sister, who also has natural hair, introduced me to her stylist. I began to get twists, comb coils, rollersets and strawsets on my own hair though most of the time, I did twists. My hair flourished and was growing like a weed and was beginning to shape my face perfectly. Being the fickle person I am, I began to grow bored of the twists and wanted to do something more interesting, something less safe. I was on a mission to prove a point - that natural hair is beautiful, versatile and fits in our narrow minded society, particularly corporate america. I hadn't worn my hair out completely since it was in the short cut so I summoned up the nerve to wear an afro puff to work. I wasn't sure what to expect. People seem to assume that women with natural hair are militant so I didn't know if my co workers and managers would think I was about to incite a riot. It was well received for the most part but I could sense that some people were uncomfortable with it. Sadly, I was sensing this from other African Americans. It's amazing how self loathing is so ingrained in us. As a people, we honestly believe our hair is ugly, unacceptable and unprofessional. If I'm being honest with myself, it bothered me that I didn't have the support of all my brothers and sisters. Oddly enough, I get more compliments from white people than I do black people not that I seek or care about their approval. However some part of me wanted the approval of my own people. I had to shake it off because i was not going to allow myself to embrace the self loathing that plagued my race. I had to act as though I was unfazed although at times, I was. I had to "fake it until I made it". After a while, I did. I now walk out of the house everyday feeling confident and powerful. I have fully embraced what was given to me by God and I absolutely love it. One of the girls who works for me told me my hair has "character". She remarked that her own hair was boring because it's just long and straight and she wishes her hair could do what mine does. I rock the twists, twist outs, wash n go's, puffs, fros. It's funny sometimes because people never know what to expect. It reminds me of when I used to wear wigs and how I wore a different one from day to day sometimes. My friends used to call me Regine from Living Single. LOL. Some days, people think I've cut my hair. It's so much fun. I'm always asking myself why hadn't I done this sooner. Today one of the girls at my job asked me how I got my hair "that way". I was wearing a wash n go and it turned out great. It turns out her hair is natural but she flat irons it. I told her my process. She then says, "yeah but looking at how curly your hair is, you have a "good grade" of hair". I hate that terminology. Our self hatred runs so deep. I decided tot ake this moment to educate her. I told her their is no such thing as "good hair or bad hair", it's just hair. I also told her not to believe the hype about our hair. We're taught that our hair is ugly and unmanageable until we apply seering heat or a dangerous chemical to it and that we had to move away from that way of thinking. I told her it's all about understanding your hair, learning how to care for it, learning what your hair likes and knowing what your hair will and will not do. I told her not to focus on someone else's hair type, style or texture because she could set herself up for disappointment. I certainly went down that road. I was more focused on the hair of other naturals than my own. I shared with her some of my pitfalls and my successes. I also told her the first step is full acceptance and embracing of her hair and everything else will fall into place eventually. She seemed to really take what I said to heart and she seemed very encouraged. It felt good to have positively impacted someone's outlook. I learned from this experience that as much as I would like to, I can't change the whole world in one day. Though I do not expect every black woman in America to go natural, I fully expect for natural hair to be fully accepted. I long for the day when it's no longer considered a fad or some "hot topic". Natural hair should be as much the norm as straight hair. All this time I though society was denying us the right to wear the hair we were born with but we have been denying ourselves this. I am encouraged to see more and more natural hairstyles on TV. Though it's mostly commercials, it's a start. Media has a huge impact on the opinions and views of others. The media has sold the idea of straight hair being beautiful for years so it can definitely sell the idea natural hair being beautiful. Until then, I will provide encouragement to other natural women when the opportunity arises. Well, thanks for reading....Smooches!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Blog

This is the first time I've ever done anything like this and I must admit, I am very excited. I haven't written in a while. I've been distracted with work and life so I haven't had much time to do it which I regret deeply. It's time for me to get back to my first love and I think this is the perfect outlet to get it going again. I'm sitting here in my living room surfing the net and watching The Temptations. I love this movie! They just don't make music like that anymore. This has been a long week. I had to terminate someone on Monday and it was very draining. That is the part of my job that I hate. I do not enjoy firing people, even when they deserve it. She really left me with no choice though. Today is sort of my Friday, I'm working from home tomorrow and I am glad about it. I won't have to get up as early and I won't have to deal with traffic. I have so much stuff to do and it will be nice to have the solitude without my employees interrupting me throughout the day. I get so much more accomplished sitting on my couch in a t-shirt and shorts than I do at work fully dressed. I have a pretty low key weekend planned. I'm going to my bookclub meeting on Saturday. I have not finished the book yet so I will be doing that tomorrow night. LOL. I'm a pretty fast reader so I'm not really worried. Other than that, I will be getting some much needed rest. I was ripping and running all of last weekend and I am spent. I will do my hair and watch some movies, that's about it. Till next time....Hopefully I will have something more interesting to talk about. Smooches!!!