Black Hair Don’t Care

Black Hair Don’t Care


She better stop playin’ that natural hair game and put a damn relaxer in her head!

 You wear fake hair because you’re ashamed of your real hair and yourself.

 You know you need to look presentable for this. It’s important. So slick that afro back and straighten it or something.

 That girl is disgrace. She don’t know what the hell she wants. She got a wig on one minute and braids the next.

 Why in the world did you cut it?! You shoulda never cut your hair! Don’t cut it anymore!

 And she know damn well she need to take that color out her head. All them chemicals. Plus she too dark for that light color anyway.

 Natural ain’t for everybody boo. And it ain’t for you.



This tug of war – also known as the thoughts and opinions on black hair – is everywhere. And it’s getting really old and really tiring. Really quick.


Don’t Mess With My Mane

…and I won’t mess with yours. Naw, but really. My hair…is MY hair. I’m not walking around asking you to fix it, judge it, touch it, or give it a score on a scale from 1 to 10. Does my afro look too unkept? Great. You don’t like the fact that I wear extensions sometimes? Just dandy.

 I like to switch up my look and my hair is part of my look. But the best part of it all? This hair…is on my head. Not yours.

The Natural Hair Movement Should Not Be Divisive 

I am just LOVING the natural hair movement and the paradigm shift that has occurred as a result – that is, the fact that we as black women are embracing our hair the natural way it grows from our heads now more than ever. But just like colorism (or in short, the whole light skin/ dark skin thing), it has caused a great deal of division in the black community. Some naturals turn their noses up to what they deem to be the unconscious weave-wearers and identity-barren relaxer-users. Some who insist on extensions or relaxer look at the naturals as going “overboard” with the history and the hotep. Regardless of our hair preferences, we should be standing TOGETHER as women.

 Thou shall not let weave nor wash and go get in the wayeth of that.

Our Curls in a Man’s World

 Some men – whether they are our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, etc. – have gotten the idea that our hair belongs to them. Men: if you want to change her hair, aren’t comfortable with what she does with it, or if you define her beauty and her worth by her tresses – grab a mirror and take a peek in it.

 You see that – you see your face? You are NOT her and you do not OWN her, or her hair.

 If you don’t like her natural curls, put some extensions in your hair. Or better yet, throw some relaxer on your low cut. Do whatever it takes to keep you from demeaning the women in your life and putting your insecurities and complexes on their scalps and their ends. Please.

Knowledge is (Our) Power

 The historiopolitical implications of our hair – from the use of hair texture to divide African slaves during colonial times, to the use of straighter hair to help one pass as white and gain access to the  privileges that came along with it, to the association of natural hair (namely afros) with the black power movement – are closely tied to knowledge of self. Some use this knowledge to educate and empower themselves and enlighten others. Other people will use this knowledge as leverage over our hair.  They will use ideas of identity to intimidate and using politics of hair to propagate undue pressure.

 Attempting to control black hair – be it by putting down a woman and pressuring her to change her hairstyle because you don’t like how her hair looks or what she does to it or looking at yourself as better than other women because of how you choose to style your mane and separating yourself accordingly – doesn’t get us any closer to liberation or a true love of self; a true love of tearing others down is what this tug of war has turned into.

The Real Deal 

 I think the root of this entire hair debacle is (drum roll)….insecurity. Maybe my hair is so thick, it makes everyone else in the room feel uncomfortable. Maybe you’re jealous because your hair can’t do all the things mine can. Or maybe, you just can’t stand the power, the creative agency or the liberation my hair offers me.

Or, simply put, maybe you have the problem…because I am proud of who I am. Because I am not here to meet your standards. Because my black hair don’t care.

A Great Day in RVA

In the summer of 1958, 57 distinguished jazz musician assembled in Harlem to take a picture in front of a brownstone in Harlem. The picture is very symbolic and has gone down in history as a major icon in jazz music. In the fall of 2014, a group of entrepreneurs, artists, writers, activists and other community leaders were called to take a photograph in front of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center in Richmond, Virginia to commemorate the original photo taken in Harlem back in 1958. It wasn’t only a call to take a photograph, it was also an ode to the trailblazers before us and affirmation for the folks working in the trenches of Richmond, trying to make the city a better place for us all. I am very humbled that I was invited to take part in this, as it will not only go down in history, but it will also serve as motivation for us all now and for our descendants in the future.

Great Day edit1top: original 1958 photo, bottom: 2014 RVA replication

Great Day edit2my mother and I before the picture was taken

Teach the Babies

“Teach the Babies”


Mike Brown and countless other black boys, girls, men and women have been snuffed out of this world at the hands of injustice. The devaluing of black lives has been made precedent over and over and over again. It’s the world we live in, unfortunately. I have come to terms with this and I move around this world accordingly. But I worry about our children, and ultimately, the children I plan to bring into this world someday.

The sad reality of all this is the fact that we have to teach our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and little cousins how to navigate within this oppressive society. And this very teaching tends to be oppressive within itself. In the most horrific way, oppression becomes a way of dying…and a way of living. Some children are taught to get home before dark, or to not hang with a large group of boys, or to not dress in clothes that are perceived as too baggy, in fear of police persecution. Others are taught to limit their aspirations and their dreams in order to fit what parents deem a safe and secure mold.

The answer to oppression is not oppression, but at the same time, keeping our children completely in the dark about the world can lead to some grim consequences.  As we fight the good fight, pushing for the valuation of black bodies, we must also find a way to fight for our children – not just following atrocities like the Mike Brown verdict or in the midst of protests and rallies – but also, daily, in our everyday lives.


One can never be too educated. We gotta make sure the babies know this. Although many social circles may try to make education uncool, we must praise it, glorify it and promote. Read as much as you can and pass this knowledge to your family, your peers and the babies. It’s as simple as sharing an article on Facebook, telling your cousin about a great book you read or filling in the little boy around the way on an issue in the news. As minorities in this society, it’s on us to educate our children on black leaders and causes – from leaders in our neighborhood to people and events from hundreds of years ago. We have to educate our children so that when they face injustice, they know it for what it’s worth. We have to educate our children so they can attempt to use the same institutions intended to stifle us as pedestal for success. Education is power.


We live in a world that values black culture, but that doesn’t mean it values being black. Everyone wants fuller lips and t-shirts adorning their favorite black rappers, but black skin and black life isn’t exactly all the rage. Dr. Kenneth Clark’s famous Doll Test confirmed this notion in 1939 (most black children were found to associate themselves with negative traits in relation to baby dolls– and the results of the replication of this test in the present day assure us that similar attitudes still exist. Forget helping kids to like being black, they must love it. When I was little, I didn’t like the texture of my hair for a very short time. I looked through magazines with Caucasian women with straight hair and asked my mother to make my hair look like that. My mom told me that my hair wasn’t meant to do that, and that my hair was beautiful because I had hair like Jesus – as thick as lamb’s wool. When friends told me that I should try to look for light-skinned guys so that one day, I could have a light-skinned baby, I ignored it because I knew better, and grew up to date men not based on complexion, because all black is good black. Black is black, and black is beautiful. The sooner we own it, the sooner the babies will follow suit.


This world can be quite uninviting, and to facilitate living within this unfortunate circumstance, there is code. Whether it’s working on a job with discriminatory policies, or encountering a racist store employee, code helps us all to most effectively address and circumnavigate particular bumps in the road on our journey. In a store where anger is provoked, even if we want to cuss, holler and punch, it may be more beneficial to tell off the aggressor and report him or her to his supervisor (making sure our grievances are made clear). When a bulwark impedes on an opportunity, we should either find another way to get to that opportunity (all while staying true to ourselves) or use the impediment as motivation for bigger and better. The later has happened to me a plethora of times, but a high school memory stands out. About 10 others students and I were pulled from an English class in high school – we were told that according to our grades, we qualified to test out of AP English for the following year. It was a huge opportunity and it also meant credits toward a college degree. A few days later I went to my teacher about it. After seeing who I was and confirming that I was on the list for the AP Test, she quickly came up with a reason for me not to test out – my spelling, although I had an A in the class and may have gotten a B on a spelling test maybe once. I knew what time it was and so did my family. I took a mental note of this teacher’s character and I used the experience as fodder for getting into my dream school (which I ultimately ended up attending and graduating from).  The code is the map on the path of life – and the way we set up this road map for the babies sets them up for life.


Sticking together is like the icing on top of a cake – it’s sweet, savory and needed for a complete product. Solidarity means education. Solidarity means pride. Solidarity is in the code. We need to buy from each other’s businesses, support each other’s art, be each other’s listening ears and shoulders to lean on. A win for one should be considered a win for all, just as a loss for one should be a shared loss. Stand together or fall apart. Mike Brown’s parents have asked us all respectably to seize from violence and looting – the fact that we are ignoring the wishes of this deceased baby’s parents rips my heart apart, while it has the perpetrators of our oppressive system rejoicing and basking in a mislead sense of self-righteousness – the same ugliness that keeps the status quo, the status quo. The kids must listen, love and learn from their brothers and sisters, and the only way we can instill such solidarity is to lead by example our own selves.

I must warn you. This is no fool-proof method. We live in a country where walking home with candy and a sweet tea can bring you to your demise. Being a child and playing with a toy can cost you a bullet. And in Mike Brown’s case, being black, college-bound, a loving brother and son, and an active member of the church on the wrong day can not only send you to your death, but it could also mean your lifeless body lying in the heat for not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 and a half hours, like road kill.

When the world gets too cold, too unbearably cold, don’t let their spirits become numb. Don’t let them oppress themselves. Teach the babies to love all, but most importantly, teach the babies to love themselves, for one day, it may be all that they have.

“It will be hard…but you come from sturdy peasant stock, men who picked cotton and dammed rivers and built railroads and in the teeth of the most terrifying odds achieved an unassailable and monumental dignity.” – James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

(For more pieces like this, check out the “Let’s Talk” section of the blog)

The Trouble with Love & Hip Hop


(photo: The Pulse Radio)

When I had time to watch television on a regular basis, I watched it faithfully. Never missed an episode. Like many other women, I liked to get a glimpse of how the other side lived, get hair and outfit inspirations from the rich and famous, and drool over the Chanel, Hermes and Balenciaga bags that I could only own in my dreams.

While many of us consciously focus on the aesthetics of the show, we unconsciously take in the garbage – the misogyny, the degradation of the female body and the trivialization of black love – that is an unfortunate by product of the reality television series. But the trouble with Love & Hip Hop isn’t what’s on the screen – it’s when the garbage behind the screen becomes reality. It’s when girls, boys, men and women reproduce it in their homes, in the streets and in the sheets.

Women are objectified constantly in this show. One example that comes to mind is the whole Peter Gunz situation. Peter Gunz, a man with a longtime girlfriend with whom he has several children, began seeing a young songstress named Amina while he was still involved with his baby momma. But it didn’t stop there – the baby momma and the new girl both knew about his disloyal ways…and about each other. So to keep his cover, Gunz lied to both women so he could still see them both. Their hearts, their minds and their bodies were discounted – all for the sake of sexual satisfaction. This teaches women and girls that loyalty shouldn’t be expected and that when it comes to men, objectification is a condition to be tolerated.

Totally undoes everything momma taught ya, huh?

It’s television. We see women half-naked parade around men in suits and coats and all kinds of layers all the time, right? Well, Mimi took it a few steps further when she willingly agreed to release a feature-length sex tape to the masses, to please her boyfriend. It wasn’t so much the tape itself than it was the decision – a decision that lacked her agency or choice – a right to make a major decision about her own body, pertaining to her most private of parts, which she completely waived to someone else. And of course, the boyfriend’s agenda in all this? Money. His want for money outweighed her right to her own skin and bones. If taking away (or openly yielding) one’s rights all for the sake of a man isn’t degrading, then I don’t know what is. Her daughter’s not going to know what it is either, if she grows up knowing the ramifications behind mommy’s tape.

Ya momma totally undid everything she was taught, huh?

Whether we like it or not, black television has the responsibility of representing us, especially in this assumption-driven, stereotype-laden, allegedly “post racial” society we live in today. Sometimes this representation seems more like a minstrel show, especially when it comes to black love. Joe Budden, a man in a long on and off relationship with his girlfriend (I guess?) Tahiri, is a royal mess. He cheats on Tahiri left and right… and left again…and right again…and she takes him back still. Every. Single. Time. At one point, he moves in a young, vulnerable homeless girl named Keylin. He dogs her out too, but he finds it to be much easier, given her socioeconomic position – barely 19, homeless, no family, etc. The love here, defined with cheating and using and abusing, doesn’t have to be the image of black love. That little boy watching the show doesn’t need to be taught that he can dog out a woman in any and all ways imaginable and still have her to himself. The little girl that tunes in every single solitary week doesn’t need to buy into the “ride or die” ideology for a dirt bag, either. Nor does she need to acquire the low self-esteem it takes to compromise her self-respect for a roof, or a meal or a bag. And none of us need more images of infidelity and hyper-sexuality to taint the beauty of black love.

I myself watch reality TV sometimes, but not this show. Not anymore. And I’m not going to start watching it again, until somebody cleans up some of the trash. What I see when I turn to Love & Hip Hop is a form of slavery – men, permanently chained to boyish ways and women, forced to sell their souls for next to nothing.

Love & Hip Hop, where insecurities look better tucked away in a Louis Vuitton duffle bag and pride is so much easier to swallow with a tall glass of Moët.

(for more pieces like this, check out the “Let’s Talk” page of the site)