How Ya’ll Like Us Now?

“Weave, weave, we don’t care. Give them horses back their hair!”

NaturalHairFrohawkIf you came of age in the 90s and the early millennium, you remember that chant. It was Black men’s favorite rebuttal to Black women who insisted on styling their hair with weaves, and a knee-jerk response against any female hostility they might incur for marrying out, particularly to white women. Black men thought they were pulling our cards by calling out the weaving. They said the artifice was one reason why they would not consider Black women for committed long-term relationships. Their other grievances included our supposedly disproportionate:

  • rates of obesity
  • crass and loud manners
  • hostile attitudes
  • slack moral standards, e.g., the tendency to be baby mamas from various men

Sooo, I couldn’t help wondering how they like us now, after so many of us have ditched weaves and joined the natural hair movement. Not only have we waved the white flag on that issue, but we’re hoisting the natural hair banner with pride. ‘Begone with fake hair, and embrace what God gave you!’ is our mantra. Are Black men changing their minds about us? Sorry to say, that’s not the case. In my very unscientific estimation, it seems like Black men have not had a change of heart at all, and they continue to date out without consideration for how we physically present our hair. I realize that I’ve listed four other strikes against us, but I also couldn’t help notice that the rates of Black children without a father in the home have skyrocketed among Blacks. So they are happy to knock us up, but still no ring, house, or coveted wife status. I guess Black men have trouble extrapolating how their individual dating choices might have broader implications and perpetuate attitudes of colorism, racism or self hatred among us.


NaturalHair2It’s hard to tell if Black men are cutting us more slack for making this major concession about our crowning glory. I just know that wearing our hair natural and ditching the European standard of outward presentation is not impeding us from attracting men outside our race. Truth be told, today I see more Black women with dreads, TWAs, twist-outs, Bantu knots and temporary press and curls — and these are dark-skinned sisters, OK — who are side by side with Asian and white men than I did in the 1990s. (Less so among Hispanic men, but I can only suppose that Hispanic men generally prefer to date among themselves.) A lot of them are wearing wedding bands and some are not. They’re in church. At Target. On the trains. For goodness sake, New York is starting to look like London as far as this goes.

Black women are making other changes that might also shift the dynamic of their dating practices and eventual partner choices. After they became more aware of the potentially damaging and harmful ingredients in their hair styling products, they carried that over to what they were putting in their bodies. I observe Black women in my everyday life being more committed to eating right — drifting into vegetarianism and veganism, exercising and bettering themselves in various ways. I think that is throwing us into the company of broader groups of people, honestly. Maybe women in my age group are leading the way on this out of some midlife course change, but I also see it among Gen Y and the Millennials. What I do not see are vast numbers of Blacks pairing off. I’m seeing a lot of gloating and backlash from the OK Cupid data that inferred that Black women are the thirstiest and the least desirable among other races of women in its pool of users based on historic response data. The best situation analysis I’ve seen comes from Cornelius Eady, writing for The Atlantic. First, he offered a rundown of OK Cupid’s findings.

Black women write back the most. Whether it’s due to talkativeness, loneliness, or a sense of plain decency, black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.
Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race–including other blacks–singles them out for the cold shoulder.

Then he offered this breakdown:

People passing this data around need to be really careful about using this study to draw inferences about the dating world of black women. One significant problem is that, as any black person will tell you, when black folks date online they don’t go to OKcupid. They go to blacksingles. They go to soulsingles. Or if they’re truly high post, they go to EliteNoire. (Dig the sensuous piano riffs and candelabra.)
Black people who are going to a site like OKcupid are generally black people who, with some exceptions, are open to interracial dating. But the same isn’t true of white people on OKcupid.
So the game is rigged–on OKcupid you have many white men who have no interest in dating black women, but very few black men with no interest in dating white women.
That’s because all the black men who don’t want to date white women are on the African American Dating Network or Blacksinglesconnection. There simply is no real white corollary. Stormfront excluded, there aren’t many “WhiteSingles” websites or “EliteIvory” dating sites. There is no Caucasian Dating Network, because the broader world is the Caucasian Dating Network. OKCupid is the Caucasian Dating Network.

I set the OK Cupid study aside right away when it first came out, because it seemed unsupportable in some level. There is no level playing field in the dating world, and so for various reasons Black women always seemed to be at a disadvantage. But we are beginning to make strides, based on attitude changes. And mind you, the are not adjustments in our disposition. We’re still the same women that we were in the 1990s, but with different cosmetic needs and dietary preferences. And yet, aside from one or two videos in which a lot of Black men say they prefer to see a woman’s natural hair, I don’t see Black men meeting us where we are on on our journey.




The Very Best of Her Generation

Genius strikes again. Just when you thought that Whitney White, known in blogging and vlogging circles as Naptural85, had exhausted her reserve of natural care topics, think again. If you thought she had tapped out her repertoire of creative and attractive styling techniques  — or as the carping crepehangers in discussion forums put it, had gotten boring — you need to rethink that. No, recant!

Check out her video on DIY faux locs, and you’ll see what I mean:

Ingenious, right? Neutralizing synthetic hair in an apple cider vinegar solution so it doesn’t irritate your scalp, then wrapping your natural twists in a single layer of added hair instead of two, so it doesn’t weigh you down. This might be something I try myself — with one major adjustment. I’m all thumbs and no patience when it comes to my natural hair. I’ve always prioritized everything else over cultivating my 4C grade of hair in life, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have to recruit someone with the dexterity and diligence to help me.

And since I’m in the Royal Court of Basic B*tches, the HRH Duchess of Hair Fails — why you lookin’ bug-eyed, though?? Y’all know that on my worst days, when you see me on the train, in the coffee shop or in Macy’s, you drag me to an inch of my life. Sometimes to my face. It’s all good. If I can bring a few moments of joy to your second chins and the batwings that used to be your triceps, I consider it a public service. But — ahem, s’cuse me — all of that brings me to the second video I want to share, Naptural85’s “Edgy Curly Wash & Co Hairstyles.” You can use it on almost any texture, and it’s also a good trick to camouflage hair fails.

So if you ever get to wondering who holds the title as the absolute best in natural hair care and styling of her generation. These two videos right here attest that it’s Whitney White.You better recognize!

And as a sidenote: I have to wonder if there is something about the name ‘Whitney.’ Anyone who has read this blog long enough understands that I hold the late, great Whitney Houston in the highest esteem among vocalists of any genre. She easily makes any listing or ranking, in my opinion, as the greatest singer to ever pick up a microphone. And now we have Whitney White, holding it down as the best to ever do a big chop and never look back.

So let the discussion forums meanies huff and puff. Let the reformed creamy crackheads who were in danger of relapse find new strength. Whitney’s got your back.

High Hopes for Naturalistas in 2014


Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a regular new feature: “Share of the Week.” It’s just a quick way for me to drop in a video, Tweet, Instagram or other internet and social media content around our common interests. This week’s pick is from Naptural85, my favorite natural hair care aficionado. She articulates a lot of common sense here where she tells Black women to basically … ease up! Enjoy the natural hair journey and stop nitpicking at each other!

Oh, and if you want your Funny Bone tickled, here is an even lighter take on the situation of “Natural Hair Nazis” (I can’t stand those jack-booted militant types telling me I have to do this or that with my hair. LOL.)

The 4C Hair Moisture Regime that WORKS

It took a few years of experimentation, wrong turns, and the rediscovery of long-forgotten natural hair care tricks, but I think I’ve come across a moisturizing routine that works for my hair (4C) and Baby’s (3B).


It’s the basic liquid, oil and cream method, or L.O.C., as bloggers and vloggers call it. I’ll just walk through my routine one piece at a time:

Liquid: Shea Moisture – Cocount & Hibiscus Hold & Shine Moisture Mist. This light, great-smelling liquid is Baby’s favorite. She loves the coconut smell, which gives me extra mileage when it’s time to get her to sit down for a hair-grooming session. Between the two of us, we’ll go through a bottle in six weeks.

How to use: I just mist it over my hair in the evenings and the mornings. On Baby, I’ll spritz in a little before running a comb through her hair.

Oil: The mixture in the second bottle, with the green tip, is my own creation. I started with a base of olive and grapeseed oil, then poured in a blend of essential oils including jojoba, Jamaican black castor and sweet almond. The idea was to combine oils that absorb into my hair shaft more easily than most, and don’t necessarily need assistance from a heat conditioning cap. Because I don’t always have time to sit under a heat conditioning cap for 45 to 60 minutes!

How to use: I aim the tip at my scalp and squeeze a small amount right in. I also get my edges. Then I rub in the oil, using the pads of my fingers and going in circular motions. I try to dedicate three minutes to this task, usually while listening to my iPod in the evening or listening to my favorite morning radio show (Yolanda Adams).  (I skip this step for Baby, since her wavy hair is finer than mine and not as thick, so I don’t want to wear it down with unnecessary ingredients.)

Cream: Another homemade creation, and I made a video of it a while ago. This is a quick souffle that I mix up about 3 or 4 times a year, depending on the season. I go through each batch faster in the cold months, using a little in the morning and at night, while I generally ease up in the spring and summer.  I might use the cream primarily at night, and then go with the mist and and the oil in the mornings.

How to use: I scoop out two fingertips full of the cream, rub it in my palms until it becomes more liquified, then rub it into my hair, paying attention to my scalp, edges and the nape. On Baby, I use a smaller amount and follow the same procedure.

I’ve been following this routine since the late spring and all summer, and I’ve noticed growth in my hair and Baby’s. Of course her hair grows faster, and in some spots it is well past her shoulders. I don’t do length checks, but one sure sign of improved hair health: fewer split ends and less breakage.

Sounds like I’ve hit on the right LOC combination that works for us, so I’ll stick to it. I might modify the routine only to substitute my homemade creak for Qhemet Biologics’ Alma Olive & Heavy Cream in the coldest winter months. Of course that would mean Baby’s hair would get the cream only once every 2 or 3 days, and I might have to switch to a more moisturizing conditioner. But our spring & summer moisture routine is down.

The Pastor and The Weaves

Long_Weave_Pink_BlouseThere has been a lot of reactionary talk lately about whether Black church women should wear weaves. ‘Impossible!’ you might say. ‘With all the pressing economic and social issues facing us today, why in the world is anyone devoting any time to discussing a trivial matter like hair.’

Well, a pastor in Waco, Texas thinks women’s hair grooming habits were worth talking about, and he made headlines after word spread about an interview he gave America Preachers.

Our Black women are getting weaves trying to be something and someone they are not. Be real with yourself is all I’m saying” said Pastor Aamir.

His remarks were more extensive than that, and when they came out the reaction was predictably shallow and sassy:

“God sees the heart …”

“There are more important things to talk about …”

“People are not going to go to a church that doesn’t feed them … ”

“Sounds like the beginnings of a cult … ”

The original interview, as published, seemed incomplete to me. The article didn’t contain a lot of context to help me frame his remarks, so it was hard to understand where he was really coming from. So while most people took the bait from what appeared to be a truncated interview and just went in on this guy, sizing him up as an insensitive luddite, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions.

What is the focus of his ministry?

In his excerpted remarks, the pastor also mentions that a lot of people in his congregation are struggling financially. Sounds like he is attuned to their needs, not out of step with his flock. He says a 26-year-old mother in his congregation is one of those with modest means, yet chooses to wear a $300 weave. His point here is that her priorities are all wrong, and I agree. There has to be a way to look cute without spending so much of the family’s hard-earned money on something you’re probably going to throw away in a couple of months. Find a cheaper way to look snatched, slash the hair salon budget and use the difference to enroll your kids in an activity they would enjoy.

Was he generalIzing with the self-esteem remark?
Perhaps. Low self esteem is one reason women spend beyond their means to be fashion forward. But some women are simply vain, shallow and will go to unnecessary lengths to have their hair layed like Toni Childs every single time they step out of their houses — assuming they made an effort to own their homes. And sometimes I think all the other pieces that go with Remys — the fake eyelashes, high-gloss lip color, nails, etc., have a cumulative drag queen effect. Sometimes I think women are obsessed with their outward appearances — and others. When every other woman you see on the street has a head of virgin Brazilian, yet you know her ancestry is nowhere close to matching what’s on her head, you have to wonder.

Other women deserve the benefit of the doubt know what they are doing when it comes to their virgin Brazilians or Remys and aren’t hampered by any psychological issues tied to their beauty self image. They how to wear that Malaysian, maintain and style the hair and how to work out in it. They know when to take breaks from the hair, whether it means throwing on a lace front for a spell while the scalp breathes uncovered — at home in the evenings — or just wearing their own hair unencumbered.

So why bother calling people out?
He wasn’t.  He asked the female leadership to abandon the weaves,  presumably to set an example for other women in the flock.  Or to open up a conversation about our collective self image and what our priorities are–or should be when it comes to beauty rituals. If they overrule him and continue wearing weaves, then I assume that they’ve found another way to get to the root of their problems.

Haven’t the edges suffered enough? Sensitive topic, I know.  All women want to do is beautify themselves. What a paradox that women who consistently install weaves to look their best end up losing a good chunk of their hairline over time, due to excessive pulling, tightening of the hair shaft at the root, and pulling while styling and maintaining the weave. Maybe women should take a break every now and them from such an expensive and potentially damaging way of managing their hair.

This is one of those perennial debates that Black women have to deal with, much like skirmishes in the “mommy wars” sometimes flare up among upper-middle-class Caucasian women. You’ll always have people who offer unsolicited opinions about how women should go about looking their best. Whether it’s a seasoned pastor concerned about your family’s financial solvency, or a bird who just sacrificed her car payment to go out on the scene in L.A., it’s probably best to set aside the extreme opinions and figure out your own brand of respectable style.