Natural Hair & Care

Lock Maintenance February 27, 2009

Dear sisters,

Many of you have approached me and asked me to ask how to start your locks. I have been trying to think about the advice that was most helpful to me when I was starting my locks. I have synthesized my thoughts into a short list. Let me know if this helps.

1. This is my second time having locks. Each time I have started my locks I have gone to a salon to begin the process them. I do this because it helps to have your hair parted evenly. Decisions that you make in the early phases of the process will greatly affect the way that your locks develop.

2.You should know that in the very beginning of the process, your locks may unravel each time that you twist them. BE PATIENT. After a while, some locks will remain twisted.

3. Eventually, more and more of your locks will remain twisted.

4. If having your locks unravel each time that you get your hair done is discouraging to you, there are many alcohol based cleansers that you can use to clean your scalp.olive-oil

5. It is necessary for you to wash your hair as often as you would if you were not in the locking process. Do not believe people who tell you that your hair must remain unwashed. This is simply untrue.

6. Remember to moisturize your scalp.

7. To retwist your locks after they have unraveled, there are two options:

Twist and pin: you will need pins that you can purchase at any beauty supply store and a twisting aid. I like to use Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil. There are a number of products on the market.

The Twist and Pin Method

1. Apply cream to root of the hair and twist it clockwise firmly.

2. Use a hair pin to hold the twist (at the root) so it doesn’t unravel.

3. You can sit under a dryer or use a hair dryer to set the twists.

The twists are not dreads when they are first made and will be delicate while they are locking. It is a good idea to sleep with a scarf or stocking over the dreads to prevent them from picking up fuzzies.

The Finger Twisting Method

This method is best used when the locks are past their initial stage and do not unravel immediately after being twisted.

1.  Twist the hair around and around clockwise.  Use root stimulator with your fingers and twist it into the hair to help hold it in place.

2. You will need to retwist often at the beginning of the process. Eventually you will need to retwist less and less.

More to come!


Black hairstorian


Writing new hair stories for our children February 19, 2009

Filed under: Barbie,Black dolls,children,natural — R.D. @ 10:39 pm
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During the 40’s psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark created the doll test to test the effects of segregation on black children. The findings provided overwhelming evidence of the damaging consequences of segregation for young African-Americans; many children demonstrated signs of internalized inferiority. In the experiment, the Clarks presented black children with dolls that were identical in every aspect except for color. All of the children correctly identified the race of the dolls. However, when asked to select the doll that they preferred, most of the children selected the white doll and ascribed positive attributes to it. When the Clarks asked the children to draw themselves, many of the children chose white and yellow crayons and refused to use brown or black crayons. In addition to feelings of inferiority, the children exhibited signs of self-hatred. Today, African-American children continue to  exhibit the very findings reported by the Clarks. In 2006, 17-year-old Kiri Davis’ eight minute documentary “A Girl Like Me” revealed that little has changed:

A  female voice asks the child a question: “Can you show me the doll that looks bad?”

The child, a preschool-aged Black girl, quickly picks up and shows the Black doll over a White one that is identical in every respect except complexion.

“And why does that look bad?”

“Because she’s Black,” the little girl answers emphatically.

“And why is this the nice doll?” the voice continues.

“Because she’s White.”

“And can you give me the doll that looks like you?”curlyqmilkshake

The little girl hesitates for a split second before handing over the Black doll that she has just designated as the uglier one.

Today many African-American parents say that the color of a doll should not be a deciding factor when making pilovemyhaironesieurchases. However, their children often own a disproportional number of white dolls. Aren’t we making a decision not to buy a black doll if we are choosing a white one? Unfortunately, the legacy of segregation and slavery does not only manifest itself in children; it begins with and is apparent in the behavior of their parents. Today there are many options for parents who are concerned about the images available to their children and ways to counteract the concepts of beauty that are being transmitted to their children. Tbenjaminbannekerhe site Dollslikeme provides parents with so many different kinds of clothes, dolls, toys, books and hair products that are affirming for young children of color. It was very hard for me to keep myself from buying some of the dolls that I saw (Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Banneker). However, what is most appealing about the site is its committment to promoting diversity in a multicultural society. Hispanic, asian, white and black dolls are present on the site. This is more reflective of the society that we live in and provides children with beautiful imitations of themselves, people in their neighborhood and people in school. The dolls possess a range of hair textures (straight to tightly curled)!!! This made me smile because all children can benefit from having dolls that reflect society (I do not believe that children should only have dolls of one color because play is practice for life). Although the Clarks’ experiment only revealed the negative side effects of segregation for the African-American community, we all exhibit the symptoms of those who have lived in a society built upon the backs of others and should always be looking to heal ourselves and eachother.


Where can we find beautiful black girls? February 17, 2009

Filed under: Malia,Sasha — R.D. @ 4:39 am
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sasha-and-malia1Madison Avenue is scrambling to adjust to a new era, when the most admired people in America are a black family. To reflect this reality, talent scouts are on the hunt for models who look like the Obama children, Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10. “People are looking for girls who resemble them,” says Charlie Winfield, the head booker at FunnyFace Today. Tali Lev, an agent with the Gilla Roos agency, keeps links to her “Sasha” and “Malia” model lists on her desktop for easy access. “Photographers even want them for their portfolios.” Marlene Wallach, president of Wilhelmina Kids & Teens, says the First Daughters are tough subjects to match. “It’s a very specific age and a very specific ethnicity, so there aren’t that many girls that would necessarily fit the bill.” Two who do are Ariel Binns and Kylah Williams, whom Wallach booked as Sasha and Malia, respectively, in the September 2008 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which featured a faux Obama family (Tyra Banks played Michelle).

Ariel, 6, lives in Crown Heights and has been working as a model since she was 11 months old. Two years ago she started getting noticed as a Sasha look-alike. “I remember walking down the street and people would say, ‘Oh my gosh, you look just like Sasha,’ ” Ariel’s mother, Dawn Crooks, recalls. Ariel typically earns over $100 an hour for her print work, which she has done for clients like Target. Now she’s trying to land an ad for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. “She keeps saying she’s hoping to go to Washington, D.C., and meet Sasha,” Crooks says with a sigh. “I told her some day we’ll do that.”

source: New Yorker Magazine


What I am Loving: Janelle Monae’s Style February 11, 2009

Filed under: celebrity,fashion,natural — R.D. @ 12:23 am
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Nominated for a Grammy for “Many Moons” in the Best Urban/Alternative performance category, Monae, who insists that she is “not a Red Carpet gal”, commands attention with her elegant coiffe and non-traditional outfit.

Halle Baldy February 8, 2009

Filed under: natural,natural hair care — R.D. @ 9:38 pm
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I almost killed myself trying to find the remote to turn up the volume, when I heard that Halle Berry was going to shave her head bald for her role in the upcoming film Nappily Ever After. Although Halle won’t be wearing her hair for this role, she will be wearing two hats; that of an actress in the film and that of co-producer.

“It’s a movie called “Nappily Ever After” and it deals with this issue of women and their hair,” Berry explained in a recent interview. “As women we define ourselves by our hair. I always have my whole life. When my hair’s not right, then I’m just not right and many days I won’t leave the house if my hair is not right. I still struggle with this hair issue,” she remarked while pointing out that her character “is forced to look at what beauty is, and it comes from inside…I’m going to get the lesson on film, and hopefully other women will get it, too.We get so fixated on our hair and so this movie is about this woman whose hair gets damaged and she decides in a drunken stupor to shave her head completely bald.”

Based on the eponymic novel by Trisha Thomas, the movie promises to explore themes central to the lives of many women. Interestingly, Nappily Ever After is only the beginning of Venus Johnston’s hairstory. In Would I Lie to You, Trisha Thomas’ character moves across the country and leaves all that is familiar behind her. In Nappily Married, Venus is forced to reconsider her decision to cut her permed hair when she decides to take on a new job.


About the novel:
African-American advertising agency executive Venus Johnston has had enough. Enough of the painful, expensive hours spent relaxing her “good” hair and enough of her four-year relationship with medical intern Clint Fairchild, which has lasted too long without a ring. She shaves her hair to a quarter-inch stubble, tells Clint to pack his bags and spends the rest of Thomas’s empowering debut novel building a new life to match the new woman she’s become. Clint, on the rebound, meets beautiful, longhaired and marriage-ready Kandi Treboe and proposes on an impulse, despite evidence that he’s not over Venus. Meanwhile, Venus confronts issues of sexual harassment and racism in her predominantly white Washington, D.C., firm, where she begins to receive threatening notes. The crisis at work fuels Venus’s fears that she’s not strong enough to survive her new freedom. Has she made a mistake by abandoning the security of her boyfriend and her long, straight hair? Kandi develops into a complex character, with her own set of concerns and a sense of humor about the lovers’ triangle. Her perspective provides an interesting counterpoint to Venus’s obsession with the consuming culture surrounding black women’s hair. Clint’s confusion over his choice between the two women is treated honestly, and Venus’s discovery that she has moved to new psychological territory carries emotional weight. This exploration of an African-American woman’s journey to self-acceptance is not without flaws (spotty writing and loose ends tied up too fast), but Thomas refuses to let her characters slide into stereotype, and she keeps the pace fast and funny. -Publishers Weekly

Talking about hair: Just my thoughts February 5, 2009

Filed under: natural,natural hair care — R.D. @ 11:06 pm
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So I’m a graduate student at a PWI (Predominantly White Institution) and the second semester has started. In one of the first sessions for a class that I am taking, the professor asked us to introduce ourselves and talk about a cool new piece of media that has captured our attention or that we absolutely love. (It’s a class about designing and producing educational media) Although we all sat in a circle, he called on us randomly. The entire time, before he called on me, I argued with myself over whether I should discuss my favorite program (LOST) or this blog. Remember, this is a PWI. Discussing LOST would be much easier and many more people would be able to identify with me. I opted to talk about my blog and was pleasantly surprised by what happened next.

I told my new classmates that I had very recently created a blog devoted to African-American hair care, and the uniquely political aspects of our hair styles and choices. People seemed genuinely interested and some asked me to share the site, but this wasn’t the most surprising part. Right after I discussed the blog, my professor told me that he was recently reading a book about Madame Walker. He asked me, ‘Do you know Madame Walker?’. I smiled when he said this and nodded yes. He explained that it might seem weird to me that he is reading a book on Madame Walker but that as a native of Indiana, he  had become particularly interested in hair and hair products because of the variety that are available there and the fact that Madame Walker is from his hometown. I told him that it wasn’t weird and that blackhairstory was all of our history, which brings me back to the debate that I was having in my head before I told my classmates about the site.
I was nervous about sharing the site, nervous about appearing radical or afro-centric, nervous about being placed in a black box by my white classmates and professor, nervous that they might visit the site and be totally confused and nervous and that it would just be dismissed. But I believe what I told my professor. Black hairstories are part of American history. It made me so happy that my professor was reading a book about Madame C.J Walker. It also made me realize how we are often engaged in internal dialogues about ways to minimize or diminish our differences. Maybe if we ignored our internal dialogues and started speaking honestly to each other instead, we might be able realize the similarities in our differences and just be ourselves. White students have approached me and talked about how some of the issues on the site resonate with them because they have curly hair that they are compelled to straighten very frequently. What a first class!

Aunt Jemima’s Hair February 1, 2009

Filed under: celebrity,natural — R.D. @ 9:03 pm
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1889: Rutt and Underwood create an instant pancake mix. Aunt Jemima’s image comes out of the logo used on a vaudeville program featuring Black face minstrel comedians. “Aunt Jemima” is a song that they sing during the show.

1893-1980’s: Real women are chosen by various owners of the company to represent Aunt Jemima at restaurant openings, fairs, grocery stores and food shows. Ex-slave Nancy Green’s (left) likeness is used for the Aunt Jemima logo. Aunt Jemima’s head is adorned with a kerchief.

1968: During the civil rights movement, activists threatened to boycott the current owner of the company (Quaker Oats) if they did not change Aunt Jemima’s mammyish image and free her from the past. Her headscarf is replaced with a head band and she loses weight.

July 1989: Aunt Jemima trades in her head band for a perm and pearl earrings. Quaker Oats believes that Aunt Jemima’s make over shows “Aunt Jemima in a more contemporary light, while preserving the important attributes of warmth, quality, good tastes, heritage and reliability.”