Alternative Natural Hair Care: I Don’t Wash My Hair

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What Im about to tell yall will break ALL the natural hair rules you’ve ever intuitively contrived or read across the natural hair blogosphere.

My number one alternative secret kind of makes me sound like a horrible person but here goes: I dont wash my hair. I said it. *drops mic*

Ok I should ammend that: I wash my hair EXTREMELY sparingly. Like, I just washed my hair for the first time this year this past weekend. The last time I washed it before then was around Christmas and the time before then was around August.

No, my hair is not constantly dirty nor does it wreak. If I get sweaty for whatever reason I will rinse my hair out lightly in the shower and if for whatever reason I am heavy on products (like when I used a ton of gel to replicate an updo Im trying for graduation last week) I know I need to cave in and wash. But I am very deliberate about this so I only pile on product when its close to wash time anyway. Sue me.

The reasons I dont really wash my hair are manifold. For the longest I really struggled with developing a realistic and time efficient wash routine. I tried washing my hair the way the blogs say is best (pre poo, detangle, wash in sections, rinse out condition, deep condition, leave in condition, product and style) in almost every variation imaginable. I tried to detangle in the shower, before everything and at each step. I tried deep conditioining before washing, applying hot oil treatments the night before to cut down on time, etc. and my results were always mediocre at best. I felt that despite the monumental effort my hair did not feel as moisturized as I would have liked and it would not, for the life of me, stay detangled or become any more manageable at any step along the way. My post-wash styles were always lackluster as well.

And the kicker was that through all of that detangling and manipulation I was losing devastating amounts of hair despite my patience snd gentle treatment. My hair is just INCREDIBLY kinky, diversely patterned and very high shrinkage and all of that moisture was a recipe for shrinking, tangling, matting and heart-shattering breakage.

So I dont know when exactly I began my no wash regimen, but it was out of response to hair washing methods and advice that were not suitable for me  no matter what I did. So I took matters into my own hands and decided to do what was best for me and my hair and my hair has definitely thrived since I freed it from the torture of washday!

I have read about others, though not black and natural, who do not wash their hair and also have had success. What do yall think? Could you try to stretch out your washes or is my method too extreme?  I would love to hear your thoughts and how you all handle wash day rituals!

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Celebrating and Questioning Natural Hair

I’ve officially been natural for two years! *Whoop*

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I have a thousand notes and tidbits about natural hair and my journey in particular and I’m going to share them here on the blog! My goal is to raise some questions about natural hair and the natural hair movement to continue turning a critical eye to the enterprises we support so that they may better serve and to hopefully make someone else’s journey a little easier by providing some alternative styling and tips that are not mainstream in the community!

So excited

Black-ish “Keeping it Real” with an “African Coming of Age Ceremony” Nullifies Authentic Black American Culture

Black Ish African Coming of Age Ceremony

So I’ve recently started watching Black-ish.

It was fun, goofy, light-hearted and happy-go-lucky but somehow in the midst of doing all of that, it went for the cultural juggernaut. Let’s talk about the “African Coming of Age Ceremony” bit.

The first problem is that André couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate the unique culture of African-AMERICANS/Black AMERICANS than by inciting the mythological cultural adage of a generic “African Coming of Age Ceremony.” Not a specific ceremony linked to a specific place, time or ethnic group in Africa (which is a massive CONTINENT and NOT a culture that should ever be generalized), but just a ceremony “of” Africa to mark his son’s coming of age in a way he frames as authentically black.

I thought this interesting turn of events resulting from his son’s desire to have a bat mitzvah to be quite fascinating.

First, note the questionable looking African clothing, the fact that the ceremony took place OUTSIDE, and the backdrop of a light tribal-sounding music (probably being played via mp3). His table is lined with a few books with “Africa” printed boldly on the covers, along with several “ingredients” he will use to perform the ceremony. He reads from the book which calls for the bones of a live goat and instead decides to throw the bones of a dead chicken (comedy ensures) at his son as a replacement.

I know the show is a comedy, but this essentialization of what it means for something to be “African” is culturally problematic.The exotic, tirbal Africa bit should die a painful death. But although the issue is related to what I’m discussing now, it truly deserves a post all its own.

Back to where I was:

When his father asks him what he is doing, André tells his father that he is connecting to his culture and getting in touch with his roots. His father promptly reminds him that he is BLACK not African. He even throws in a shrewd aside stating that Africans don’t even like Black people (I’m paraphrasing)

I found this example to be quite sad, like the many other instances in the history and media surrounding African-American people in which all concept of the unique culture that African-Americans possess seems to be invalidated or “invisiblized” (to quote a friend’s new term recently employed in an anthropology course here at Georgetown). Whenever black people have to talk about their history or culture it seems like nobody can come up with anything other than slavery, hip-hop, soul food or basketball.

This issue proves the extent to which black culture is invalidated by the world but also American society and black people themselves. Although some black people, like André, reminisce back to Africa to feel the deep cultural void they feel for their perceived lack of unique and MEANINGFUL traditional styles of music, dance, song, dress, etc, some feel as though Black Americans have NO culture and are “just black.”

I HATE the concept of “just black.”

The ideology of black Americans as “just black” is a dehumanizing tool that society perpetuates to keep black people feeling inferior. By calling black Americans “just black”, society simplifies black life and culture to something that is prefaced with “just” – something small, insignificant, “just” there.

It sweeps our deep, deep history and culture and PROMINENCE in this country right under the rug, just like André’s decision to have an “African Coming of Age Ceremony” to get his son back in touch with his AMERICAN blackness.

I hope this rant doesn’t come off too offensive towards Black-ish and its writers. Clearly, its a comedy show and its something I am definitely going to continue watching. I just hope that the show will, at some point, validate black culture in a true and positive way that doesn’t feel the need to draw on a generic, abstracted “African” lineage or over-reliance on the played-out trope of how all black Americans are so “urban” (whatever that means). As much as I would like to say that black culture needs no validation, the reality in my eyes is that it does. It needs to be showcased and appreciated and acknowledged.

But what do you think? Wiill you be watching Black-ish? What do you think will come of it? WIll it create more stereotypes of what it means to be black in America or nullify them? Let me know what you’re thinking about what I’m thinking.

On Blogging: I Want to Go it Alone

As much as I want to develop my blog independently of my network of family, friends, peers and soon to be colleagues, I’m considering caving in.

No, one Facebook post won’t thrust me into the limelight but it would give me considerable leverage for at least building a base of bodies invested in my posts. Like any human being, I want to feel like my efforts matter! I want to be able to reach people, help them when I can, make them think always and make them feel good whenever possible.

I could easily share my blog with my network and achieve all of those things.

I want to blog in the semi-darkness though! Lol Is that strange? I want this to be the place where I can be free from them and say the things I need and want to say without having to think too hard, freeing myself of the burden of over sensitivity required by MY facebook timeline at the least.

No, there is nothing I would have any desire to say that would be racist, sexist, ableist, classist, homophobic, elitist, etc because I despise those things but dammit I just want to do it alone lol

I want to know that people who follow me follow me out of genuine interest and not some sense of familial/fraternal obligation to me.

Can anyone relate?

Why would I be sad to graduate? I’m black at a PWI. Do the math.

I’m writing for one of the last times as a senior at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. I’ve been here for four years and I’m very proud and excited to be graduating from a prestigious school that I really wanted to go to, that gave me not only incredible financial aid, but also the most amazing scholarship program in the world, GSP (http://gsp.georgetown.edu/) and my forever family, CMEA (http://http://cmea.georgetown.edu/). I’ve met some of the most important people in my life here and I have engaged academically in ways that will inform who I am forever but I still don’t understand for the life of me why anyone would expect I would be SAD to graduate.

SAD? Spare me. *hits Shmoney dance*

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Yes, my classes have been brutal. My GPA has the war stories to prove it and my transcript definitely has blemishes (read: WARTS) coming out of it in all directions but no, I’m not un-sad to graduate because of the academic load.

As a low-income, first-generation college student who also happens to be black and a black woman at that, my experience differs greatly from that of the “typical” Georgetown student, a Jack or Jane Hoya as we call them, if you will.

For Jacks and Janes Georgetown must be truly magical.

As far as I’m concerned I can definitely see and sense the magic, hell I can almost smell and taste the shit, but I am fully aware that the magic is not my own and constantly reminded of the ways in which it was deliberately not meant for me.

I love this place, but I don’t have the money to ENJOY it, the connections to EXPLOIT it, the family name to OWN it, the social disposition to DELIGHT in it and so on and so on and so forth. Being here requires a social cache that has never been afforded to me due to structural racism and deliberate systemic inequalities and as a result of that, I must struggle everyday to either attempt to assimilate, segregate myself into a community where I feel comfortable or try to thrust my self half-heartedly into both in a manner that 1. doesn’t bear much fruit and 2. would work to reinforce the tensions doing so was meant to originally alleviate.

This past year in particular has made being black at a PWI especially challenging. With the general disregard and pent-up institutional contempt for black bodies at an all time high for our generation, it is exhausting to know that you are in a place where the majority of the people around you are only vaguely aware, minimally interested and for the large part, wholly unaffected by the fact that your very LIFE, family, COMMUNITY and existence is constantly at risk and essentially spat upon day after day after day.

So yes, while it is a great honor to attend Georgetown University and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have had here, the wonderfully supportive people I have come to know, and the distinguished privilege to be the first in my family to attend and graduate college right here on “the hilltop” and virtually debt-free, the reality is that no, I am not sad to graduate. I feel stifled and I am ready to break free.

Racial Tropes and a Closer Look at SCANDAL

So I love all of the shows that young, college aged to middle aged black women generally love right now. I’m a fan of Shondaland and all of its productions and Thursday IS the Holy Day but I am also a huge advocate of careful consumerism and turning the critical eye to the enterprises we support as individuals and especially as a community of black people with an incredibly disproportionate investment in certain industries to our dollar value as a unit. Before I go off on a rant what I’m saying is that we actually dictate media trends in consumership because we are the mass base and as the base, we have responsibility.

Typically I reserve these rants for what I believe are undisputedly damaging enterprises that exploit disgustingly long-standing tropes about black people stemming from slavery and the introduction of Christianity to the African continent during the colonial era (Again, stopping myself) but while these shows typically fall under the realm of “reality” TV, our favorite scripted dramas tap into some uncomfortable schemas as well.

I haven’t been the best at watching SCANDAL lately after this season (4, I believe?) took a really weird turn with the kidnapping of Olivia and the extremely lack-luster saving of Olivia followed by SCANDAL’s (weak) take on #BLackLivesMatter news and politics, but I personally was stunned to see that the beautiful black man Olivia reclaimed her “power” with (as if a woman’s power only comes from her interactions with a man -__-) was actually a ploy set up by Papa Pope!

I’ve just said a whole lot but I think we need to sound off as a community of viewers about the racial dynamics on this show: Olivia, a black woman, in love with and constantly choosing between two white men who are always shown as having her best interest at heart and being genuinely lovestruck for her while her father, the black man, who has also done INCREDIBLE things for Olivia is portrayed and scorned as the evil one. Not to even mention Huck, the Latino and other prominent person “of color” character and his lust for massacre, doom and blood.

Good and evil come in all colors, but I feel that evil, in SCANDAL, at least is more frequently painted in darker hues, while the blemishes on the “WHITE” hats are invisible under all of the sun they’re constantly basking in.

I don’t think I’m crazy, but do y’all? LOL Anyone else que in on something a little off? How do we feel about crafting the media with out viewership and taking charge of representation? I’m not here for respectability politics but I’m also not here for exploitation and one-dimensional representation….I would love to hear your thoughts/critiques!

Are You Watching Empire? It’s an interesting one…

My roommate has put me onto yet another show and this time its Empire.

But I must admit, I’m a bit skeptical.

Although the Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson chemistry is undeniable and the musical element to the show (Timbaland productions) is really urban and refreshing as compared to other musical themed TV, like Glee, something feels off.

I won’t give away the entire plot but the show basically centers around a music mogul who starts a business thanks to the help of his drug-dealing baby momma/wife who ends up in jail during his rise to success and the maturation of their two sons who are both performers. One son is a rapper and a veritable “thug” while the other is a singer-songwriter/producer/singer who happens to be gay, much to his homophobic black father’s disdain.

The show seems pretty entertaining, but when the second episode showed the star character throwing his gay son in the dumpster for being a gay child dressing up as a female and framed the “thug” son as anti Barrack Obama while making video clips about Obama being inauthentically black and a “sellout” I began to really feel the presence of Fox all over the show.

This stench, might I add, didn’t even have anything to do with the portrayal of the female characters. 1. A former drug-dealer/recently freed prisoner, 2. What appears to be a serious goldigger/opportunist, 3. A disrespected but faultlessly loyal receptionist “Mammy” type character and 4. The most dim-witted character television has ever seen (and not in a funny way, just in a sad way).

Since I think its unfair for me to pass an ultimate judgement on a show based on two episodes, I’m going to continue watching the reminder of the season but what do you think? Do you feel as if the show is somehow a little bit off? Are the representations problematic? Is Fox pushing a secret agenda by making a show that outwardly appeals to black people but ideologically appeals to its true demographic? Or am I reading too much into things as per usual? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear your opinions.

Whats Hot: Nothing on TV? Black and Sexy TV Features High-Quality Indie Web Series That You Will NOT Want to Miss

I have been really into TV lately. Shows like Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Gotham, Blackish and their strong black-female leads have really inspired me to give network television a shot despite my lack of consistent engagement with practically ANY TV shows for like the past 5 or 6 years. But, despite my rising appreciation for good network TV I have truly found LOVE in Black indie web series.

I was first put on to the phenomenal Issa Rae and her amazing “Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” about three years ago and I DEVOURED that show. I watched and watched and watched until I finished them all and then I was left with….this void. It was like a drug – I got literally HOOKED and then it was over and my body just couldn’t handle the shock lol

SO, eventually when I got bored enough to commit to doing something about the void I started searching for similar things on youtube and low and behold, Black & Sexy TV.

Black & Sexy TV is the BUSINESS.

The first show I started watching on Black & Sexy TV is called roomieloverfriends. I started in good fashion from the beginning and I wasn’t *fully* crazy about it but was interested enough to keep watching. I watched through the first season and by the time I hit the second I began to truly fall in love with the relatability (not a real word, but bare with me) of the characters, their temperaments, their situation, etc. I also felt like the production quality drastically improved to the point where I didn’t even feel like I was watching a Youtube series. The videography AND writing/acting on the show is truly impeccable, but the NEXT show that I got hooked on…

HELLO CUPID is the TRUTH.

Hello Cupid truly takes the cake for my absolute favorite thing to watch. I. Love. Hello Cupid. I am obsessed with the characters on the show and the real life people who portray them and I am DYING to see it grow into so much more than what it is now. I am excited that Black & Sexy TV (the youtube channel and production company that creates and supports these shows) is trying to expand by offering paid features, and I am even more excited that there is talk of a monthly subscription plan in the future. I have heard talk of Black & Sexy TV’s ambition of becoming “Black Netflix” and I must admit that I am a fan. You have to get on this though because Black & Sexy TV s offering a free product that is really worth money.

I am actually not endorsed or related to Black & Sexy TV in any way other than being a fan so If i can influence you, PLEASE CHECK THEM OUT. I think what they are doing is AMAZING and offers a smart, witty, sexy, modern and real alternative to a lot of the really trashy black (reality) TV out there, and I would really love to see more support for this truly authentic independent endeavor and the imagery it puts out there rather than the really damaging ones that already exist and have existed for way too long for to be interesting.

…I’m going to end that rant right there though 🙂 And save it for later lol But please check out Black & Sexy TV and let me know if you’ve heard of Black & Sexy TV and if not, what do you think after checking them out on YouTube and stalking them on social media @blackandsexytv ?

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Why I wasn’t a feminist and why I am now

Truthness.

Sincerely, Jess

My reasons for never choosing to identify as a feminist before were simple and honestly boiled down to one thing: Feminism felt like the advocacy of [white] women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to [white] men. It is important that I share that because I do not think I am alone in that feeling. A few summer’s ago I was asked to take part in a women’s leadership event on campus and I wrote to the conference organizer,  I finally decided that I have to work from where I am; right now I am a woman who is a leader who does not quite understand what it means (to myself or others) to be a “woman in leadership”. I believe this lack of connection to that particular identity has to do with my racial identity. Because I rarely, if ever, refer to myself as…

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Activism Vs. Angryism: Racial Identity and Responsibility – Why I’m Not Going to Ferguson, MO

Earlier this week I was presented with an opportunity to go to Ferguson, MO to participate in a large demonstration set to take place there in the next coming weeks.

When I first read the e-mail my immediate reaction was to JUMP on it, but then I read the agenda and my enthusiasm waned. Basically, I would be going to participate in marches, rallies, etc. The schedule would be packed to the brim and although I’m sure that some would find the idea of a road trip to be a fun, life-long bonding opportunity, I dread the very concept. Crammed in a car or 12 passenger van driving through the southern midwest with some acquaintances who assume a friendly, personal relationship with me solely on the basis of a shared lumping of our color and racial identity and social status as minority students at a Predominantly White Institution does not appeal. Nor does devoting so much time and energy into a shallow political angryism because I feel a sense of racial responsibility.

If I were to go to Feguson, MO I would need to engage in a level of activism that many do not find very “active” at all. I would want to talk, observe, write, reflect and truly delve into the issue in a way that I could not if I were to be running around the streets, burning my energy on the raw physicality of the experience like my peers.

I would feel more engaged by brining the experience back to the community in the form of an editorial spread for a local newspaper, a photo campaign from the streets of Ferguson, a personal journal documenting my thoughts and emotions…I would need to work on a tangible artifact that I could preserve and use to inspire. I would need freedom to explore, engage, challenge, breathe and create for myself my own understanding in a way that just may not fit within the mission and scope of the trip’s schedule.

Some may accuse me of being a bad black person or a bad activist (if they would even call me such) for sitting this one out but I know in my hear that activism is more than angryism and I think that is what so many have yet to figure out.