Guest Blog Post: Why Hair is So Important to the Black Community

(Hey, y’all! It’s been a minute since I’ve had a naturalista swing by the blog! Patrina of naturalhairqueen.net is a beautiful naturalista who is here to drop some knowledge on the social, political, and economic meanings of Black hair. I’m thankful that Patrina came by to share her words as it is a well-written and significant piece. I encourage you to take some moments to read her words too! Blessings, Monica aka afrotasticlady)

Guest Blog post_Patrina

It’s not just hair. If you mention the deep significance of African-American hair to nonblacks, you might get a blank look. They probably won’t understand why you are angry when you see cornrows being culturally appropriated. Nor will they get your frustration of not being able to find black hair products on the supermarket shelf.

The way we wear our hair isn’t just about self-expression. Our kinky hairdos and our coily locks are beautiful and unique, but it’s never just about you as an individual. Yes, we struggle with self-acceptance, but it’s not the same as a Caucasian teen wearing a mohawk to be rebellious, or a middle-aged white woman dying her hair bright red to do something fun for the summer.

How we style our hair goes way beyond that. It’s almost as if we’re representing the entire race. African-American hair is woven into a traumatic history of cultural discrimination, political turmoil, and fighting for basic human rights.

As time passes, we’ve seen mega-companies like L’Oréal scramble to sell to the one market they’d ignored for years. And it’s about time they paid attention, because the black hair and cosmetics industry is worth $9 billion per year, according to Black Men in America.

The black population is no small market. Nielsen reported that blacks will reach a buying power of $1.3 trillion by the end of 2017. We want to look good and we show it with our wallets, but it goes much deeper than just vanity.

African-American hair bonds and unites us as a people. However, the scars of having been ignored, shunned, and frowned upon still exist. In this post, we’ll discuss why hair is so important in the black community.

Hair is Interwoven into Black History

Black obsession with hair didn’t begin in America, nor does it date back to when Africans were kidnapped and sold as slaves. Hair has always been important to Africans, and we see evidence of this by studying the tribal traditions of our ancestors.

Africans made elaborate hairstyles for celebrations and rites of passage, and they also used styles to determine rank, social class, fertility, manhood, age, and wealth.

So, it’s only natural that we would turn to hair to express ourselves since that’s what our ancestors did.

When Europeans stole Africans for use as slaves, they uprooted an entire legacy of hair. Being far away from home without styling tools or nourishing butters like Shea, meant that Africans had no way to care for their hair. For the first time, blacks no longer celebrated their hair. Rather, both blacks and whites saw it as a problem.

In 1909, Garrett Morgan invented the first relaxer, and we saw black women flocking to take care of the “problem”.

The Struggle is Real

Why do we pay so much attention to hair? Because managing African hair takes time, patience, and dedication. Whether you have natural, relaxed, or a protective style like braids, you are undoubtedly going to spend hours doing your hair.

It’s kinky hair’s coily characteristics that make it a challenge. As the tiny coils cling on to each other and tangle, the hair mats until you have time to detangle it. And the detangling itself can take a long time to master without breaking the hair strands.

As we move into the Natural Hair Movement, American women are spending more time and money than ever on perfecting hair. Hair is connected to self-esteem and the way we feel about ourselves and being black.

Do we allow it to go natural? Do we straighten it to appear more “acceptable” in the workplace? These are complex questions that every woman must answer repetitively over the course of a lifetime.

Changing jobs or even just posing for a professional picture might change a woman’s mind from one day to the next about her hair, and whether it’s good enough. It’s this constant battle that leads us to obsess over hair and continuously “fix” it until it’s ready to be seen by the public eye.

A Common Bond Between Sisters

Our hair connects us. It’s the internet that brings sisters together. Now we can freely discuss and exchange ideas about how to take care of our complex hair, something we haven’t had since before slavery.

Sure, we always had casual conversations with friends and strangers alike, but You Tube and blogs made our connections stronger and more frequent.

It’s a grand reuniting of people affected by the African diaspora. These are the conversations we were meant to have hundreds of years ago. But better late than never, and it makes the connections even more compelling.

It’s not just the ability to research information, but a way of socializing. Our hair journeys give us something to talk about, share, and bond over. And yes, it feels like we’re celebrating once again.

Patrina-Naturalhairqueen

Patrina is the founder of Naturalhairqueen.net; a blog to educate and inspire women with natural hair. Patrina just celebrated her 10-year natural hair anniversary, and achieved her goal of waist length hair. With the knowledge she has learned over the years she is dedicated to share her knowledge, and experience to educate women who wish to have moisturized, healthy natural long hair.

Social Media:

Website: www.Naturalhairqueen.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/naturalhairqueensite/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatHairQueen

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nathairqueen/

Women, Let’s Be Kingdom Builders

Women, Let's Be Kingdom Builders!

(Hey, friends! In June, the church that I was born and raised in, had a Women’s Day service. Annually they have this service, and there is always a specific theme. This year’s theme was “Determined Women: For Such a Time As This,” and the accompanying scripture was Esther 4:14-16. One of the women elders asked me if I could write a piece for the service. I have always appreciated the sweet remarks that folks in this church have given me regarding my writing. They see my writing as a gift, and they always encourage me to keep writing. Thus, I was honored when she asked me to share a piece. I would like to share what I read with y’all! I pray that my women readers are encouraged by my words, and that it leads to introspection. Blessings!)

When I was 18 years old, my dad and I packed up his small car with my belongings and left Worcester for Amherst, Massachusetts. I’d decided to attend Umass Amherst so I could live far from my parents’ supervision and still come home on the weekends. As someone who had been born and raised in church, I desired to escape God and all His rules. At Umass, I could study and party. I could dance with strangers at parties and get drunk. I could truly “live.”

Yet, living without God is not living. It’s surviving; it’s hustling. It’s seeing what you can achieve and where you can go on your own.

In October 2004, my second month at Umass, I went to a Gospel concert on campus. One of my friends was in the Umass Gospel Choir, so I had to support her through my attendance. During the concert, I sensed that God was speaking to me. I was being encouraged to choose Him. After the concert, I returned to my dorm room and called my parents. I told them that I wanted to be saved and they prayed with me. Through God, I changed my lifestyle. I allowed the Bible and worship music to consume me. Despite the challenges that I have encountered in my life, I have remained committed to God.

Women, I share my testimony because I would like you to think about the moment you gave your heart to Christ. Close your eyes if you need to, but please recall your surroundings. Were you at home or church when you became saved? How old were you? Were you the only person in your immediate family that became saved or were you surrounded by God-fearing family members? Were you crying and rocking back and forth? Or were you still when you gave Him your heart?

Women, it’s integral that we remember the moment that we were saved so that we can encourage ourselves. We need to remember the circumstances that God delivered us from. We must understand that God doesn’t save us solely for our own benefit. Indeed, salvation leads us to eternal life with our Lord and Savior. We are also saved to be influencers and advocates of Jesus Christ. We are saved so that other individuals in our environments can receive the gift of salvation.

Our theme scripture for this Women’s Day service states:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:14-16

Esther, a young Jewish woman, was appointed Queen for a purpose. King Xerxes was unaware of her Jewish identity. Mordecai, her relative, refused to bow to Haman, a royal official. Upon Mordecai’s actions, Haman was enraged and plotted to destroy the Jews. Mordecai sent word to Esther of this plot and persuaded her to think about her position in the palace. He said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther’s God-given purpose was to rescue her people from destruction despite the consequences. She could risk her own life by approaching the king without an invitation to his court or she could remain idle in God’s purpose for her. Esther chose to advocate for the lives of her people. Through her faithfulness, her people were saved.

Women, which people around you need to be saved? Who needs an intercessor? And what will you sacrifice so those people can receive eternal life?

Perhaps, you will not be risking your life as Esther did. You may be risking popularity, time, or money. Younger women, you may be risking the attention of that cute guy who isn’t even a Christian. You may have to stand alone.

Women, no matter your age, your godly riskiness will yield a grand outcome. Your obedience to God will be honored by Him. And your obedience can cause others to reflect on their need for Jesus. By praying with someone or sharing your testimony, you are spreading God’s light.

Matthew 5:14-16 states:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Women, you were placed in that school, job or apartment building to fulfill God’s purpose! You were created for this time so that the people surrounding you could rise from their depression, their anxiety, and their chaos.

One of the songs that I have been singing during my prayer time is “Withholding Nothing” by William McDowell. I am struck by the simple yet powerful lyrics:

“I surrender all to You

Everything I give to You

Withholding nothing

Withholding nothing”

Women, I encourage you to examine your lives and what you are holding onto. If you are holding onto fame or other lusts of the flesh, I encourage you to surrender those things to God. I assure you that those things are worthless and that the lives of people around you possess more meaning. I pray that you follow Esther’s example and proclaim “If I perish, I perish.” If you lose your social status, please note that you are losing it for the causes of the Kingdom.

 

 

June’s 6 Grateful Things List

 

June 2017's 6 Grateful Things List

 

Hey, y’all! It’s July, and my hope was to post this vlog in June, but life got cray cray busy again. Anywho, I’m posting the vlog now, and that’s all that matters. Last month was my birthday month; my DIVA month! If you know me, you know that birthdays are very important to me. I have to reflect on the blessings that God has given me, but I also have to enjoy time with family and friends. My 31st bday was definitely the highlight of the month. Along with turning older, I also went to a lot of church events. I got hype for Jesus. LOL! Check out the vlog to hear more about my church blessings!

Per usual, let me know what blessings you received in June! Before I go, I’m gonna drop this verse that I have been hearing and thinking about a lot lately. Please meditate on it and let it comfort you in your state of weariness, brokenness, heartache, etc.

“But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will SOAR on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will WALK and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

 

31st Birthday Life Lessons

31st Bday Life Lessons

Hey, hey friends! I realize that it’s been very quiet on my blog, and I am glad that I have been able to communicate with everyone through my monthly gratitude vlogs. Even though I love doing the vlogs, I missed writing posts. Hence, it is time to give y’all some writing! #Yass

Some of you may know that June is my birthday month! I turned 31 years old on June 7th. It was a busy yet fun day filled with family and friends time. Of course, I ate out twice as I love to eat. I also went to the movie theater and Starbucks with a friend.

In this post, I want to share what I have learned over the last 31 years. God willing, I still have many more years to live and more lessons to learn. For now, I will share five important lessons that I have acquired. Here goes:

  1. Love God: Growing up in church, I heard about God all the time. I went to church with my family. I listened to Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary in my living room. When I finally accepted God into my life at 18 years old, I discovered a full, heavenly love. God loves me and us without restrictions. We can act prideful and feel dirty, but He still loves us. His love is a gift, and I must choose to receive it. I must also choose to love Him with every part of me. In loving Him, I need to surrender my plans and heed His instructions. Is this always easy? Nope!! But I believe that it is a worth following His path of love and peace.
  2. Love others: It can be challenging to love others, especially when it feels like they are trying to annihilate you. Yet, I know that God’s Word commands me to love others. Mark 12:29-31 states:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

God would not command us to love Him and others if we could not do it. In order for us to fulfill His commandments, we need to rely on His strength! We must keep our ears open when the Holy Spirit convicts us.

Regarding these commandments, I am NOT perfect. I am still striving to love others as God wants me to love them. Besides being a Christian, I know that there many folks out there who need to be loved. As an individual who has worked in the human services field for numerous years, I have heard traumatic stories from clients. I have also heard how various systems mistreated them. But love promotes healing and restoration. And when my clients and folks who are deemed “unloveable” experience authentic love, they begin to grasp onto hope. They are already strong people, but their strength increases when they see that someone loves them despite their inner turmoil.

  1. Embrace community: I’m learning that God ordains relationships. I’m not really talking about romantic relationships. Although, I believe that He does ordain those relationships too. God ordains friendships. In my life, I have met women that I know that God meant for me to meet. These women have witnessed hardships and joys during my journey. And I have been able to witness the same events in their lives too. These women have provided me with a safe and loving community. Without community, life can be lonely and miserable. God’s Word states the following about friendship:

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9

  1. Embrace myself: As I have grown older, I have greatly appreciated this lesson. God distinctly created me so when I criticize myself, I am criticizing God’s craftsmanship. As with any human being, I have strengths as well as weaknesses. When I overly focus on my weaknesses, I become dejected. I must remind myself of who I am to prevent those moments of dejection. I have learned that I am a quirky, introspective, creative Black woman. I am a child of God, and my identity rests in Him.
  2. Go on adventures: I love the lyrics of the Rend Collective song, “Free as a Bird.” They sing:

“Let our praises run wild and free

Your lion heart is alive in me

Let our freedom and joy begin

With You, we’re dancing upon our chains

With You, we’re soaring on eagles’ wings”

I should not allow fear to stop me from going on adventures. As the lyrics display, living with God gives me abundant joy and freedom. But the enemy uses fear to doubt myself and my capabilities. While the fear is creeping into pockets of my life, God is urging me to take steps towards that new job or friendship. He is urging me to move higher in my relationship with Him. I must be open to going on an adventure. I have to trust that God has bigger dreams for me than I have for myself. He is the fulfiller of those dreams.

Also, when I think about adventures, I am reminded of physical ones. I think about going to concerts with friends, trying new foods and hobbies, and exploring the world. I have always loved going to concerts and eating, but I haven’t explored the world as much I would like to do so. This world is huge, and I want to learn about different cultures. I want to go to England, West Africa, Australia, Israel, and other regions. God willing, I will go to these places.

As a child of God, I am meant to go on spiritual and physical adventures!

Friends, I have only listed a few life lessons, but I could keep writing! 😊 I am grateful for the life lessons as they help me to grow spiritually as well as mentally. I am curious and looking forward to learning more lessons as the years progress.

Friends, what life lessons have you learned so far? Do any of my life lessons apply to you?

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

May 2017’s 6 Grateful Things List

May 2017's 6 Grateful Things List

 

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” Lionel Hampton

Hey, hey! May was such a full and busy month for me! Almost every weekend, I was involved in an event. Yet, I was involved in celebratory events and spend time with family/friends.

How about you? Was your May schedule full? Were you able to spend needed time with family and friends? I hope so!

As usual, I want y’all to share your lists of gratitude! Through these moments of sharing, we greatly encourage each other. Please take a seat and watch the video!

Thanks and blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

April 2017’s 6 Grateful Things List

April 2017's 6 Grateful Things List

Hey, y’all! The month of April was cray cray for me! Translation: Major school work had to get done! Despite the cray cray of it all, I’m grateful for how God blessed me! I accomplished all my school work and received other blessings! Of course, I had to share my list! What blessings did you receive from God this month? Share ’em out!

Blessings,

Monica aka afrotasticlady

 

The Stories That Need To Be Told

stories-blog-post

There is a hierarchy within storytelling and the sharing of history. Certain stories are constantly recited while other stories are mentioned infrequently. In my home, I heard my parents tell stories about their childhoods and how they survived attacks on their Blackness. My parents gave me books about Black heroes to read. I learned about Madame C. Walker’s business skills, Marian Anderson’s gifted singing, Shirley Chisholm’s determination, Fannie Lou Hamer’s strength and Charles Drew’s ingenuity.

Yet, in school, Black history was squeezed into February’s curriculum or other holidays of the year such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I absolutely value the celebration of Black History Month in February, as it is a necessary celebration for Black folks and folks of all races/ethnicities to become educated on Black history and culture. But I deem that this celebration should not stop once the month ends.

When I saw how briefly that school teachers would talk about Black history, I knew that my parents and extended family would have to be my primary teachers. Through my family’s stories, I saw that I was Black every day of the year and that my roots were resilient. I discovered that the words “Black” and “smart” could be said together. That Black folks have created inventions and art forms. That my ancestors were warriors and that this warrior spirit swirled within me.

Every Black person should be able to hold pride in their bodies instead of being starved of it. How can this pride become prominent within the lives of Black folks? When Black folks can access their stories of strength, then internalized racism can lessen.

Within the last few months, I have seen three films that displayed the journeys of Black folks. These films focused on the challenges that Black folks have endured while emphasizing their beauty and their accomplishments.

Late 2016, I watched Loving, which is based on the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving. Mildred, a Black woman, and Richard, a White man, got married in 1958 in Washington, D.C. When they returned to Virginia, their home state, they were arrested for miscegenation (interracial marriage). Instead of serving lengthy prison sentences, the court demanded that they live outside of Virginia for 25 years. Although, this case was made into a movie before (Mr. and Mrs. Loving), Loving is a lovely and slow-moving account of this couple’s romance and demand for equality through petitioning the Supreme Court. The Lovings were unintentional activists as their case resulted in the 1967 dismantling of miscegenation.

Before 2016 ended, I also watched Fences based on the August Wilson play of the same name. Unlike Loving, the film Fences is not based on a true story, but it’s a realistic portrayal of life for a Black family in the Jim Crow era. Audiences view the impact of racism on the identity of “Troy,” a Black man, and how his relationships with his wife, sons, and brother became disconnected. Denzel Washington played the intense role of “Troy” and directed the film. Viola Davis recently won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of “Rose,” the wife of “Troy.”

In January of this year, I watched Hidden Figures which is based on the real-life efforts of Katherine Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. These Black women mathematicians worked at NASA during the 1960s Space Race. I have studied a lot of Black history, but I had not heard of these women before seeing the movie. While I stared at the theater screen in a nearly packed room, I laughed, yelled, and cried. By the end, I thought my tears were not going to stop gushing. I felt like I had seen the triumphs of my own sisters. And I desired that everyone saw this movie, especially young Black and Brown girls who were interested in the math and sciences.

One of my favorite writers, the late Maya Angelou, said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I certainly agree with my girl Ms. Angelou. But I also know the agony in preventing an entire group from seeing their stories. From seeing their bravery and their truths in books and magazines. From being able to see themselves on TV and movie theater screens.

When movies such as Loving, Fences, and Hidden Figures are created, Black folks see that they have culture and history. They see the fullness of their stories and how their stories need to be told.