Monday, March 28, 2011

But Ma, I left my wig at home.

I haven't relaxed my hair since March or April of last year. Sew-ins ripped my hair out and straightening it killed my hair, never to kink again. I have been wearing wigs since November and it surely cuts my prep time in the morning in half. But from time to time I'd really like to wear my own hair again. So last month out of frustration and after a pretty fierce argument with my husband I cut it off. Grrr!

(The is picture is the best it has ever looked.)

I'm still under a wig. Why, you ask. I am still uncomfortable with my hair and I am faced with the very thing I am running from. My hair is very fine and thin. I peruse the natural hair blogs for encouragement and I see amazing curl patterns and styles. Loose or tightly coiled, twist outs braid-outs. Yeah, I've tried them. It doesn't look good if you have only 17 strands of hair in one braid. Nope. Doesn't look good. I can't use those lovely hair butters everyone talks of. Weighs down my hair.

I haven't come to terms with my hair texture. I have this idea of what "natural" is supposed to look like and it doesn't look that way.  My ends remain wispy, no matter my recent trims. I wonder if my wig cap/stocking cap pulls it straight. It looks like I have a texturizer/ jheri curl sometimes. Not the pretty kind either, it is the picture of what I used to laugh at. Second, I fight with my inner 12 year-old that says "No one is going to think that is your hair, everyone's going to think you have a texturizer! Everyone's going to laugh at you." You know my parents both being Nigerian and Lil' Wayne declaring that we all have hair that breaks combs. I wish. My hair falls out everyday. Stress, hormones, age. I don't know, clearly I am not that old. But I don't comb my hair but a few times a month, and my 45 strands of fine sandy browns put up no resistance. Hell, they join the force. So all in all, being natural makes me insecure and even at this age, I don't want to get laughed at. Not to mention...I have grey hair.
                                                                                                                (This photo is it wet with stuff in it)
So today after my jog to work as I prepared for the day in the workplace shower room, I realized that I left my wig at home. Panic! Because as I have begun to wear my natural hair out, you know, Wal-mart maybe, the beach---I have not risen to the level of wearing it to work! So if you can imagine, I am trapped in the bathroom with a wig cap and and an orange and green Gap ball-cap on in utter distress. I was not mentally prepared. What will they think? If I go out there I can't go back to my wig! Nothing is worse that the constant hairstyle change of Black women in the work place. I mean, how will they recognize me!?!

Luckily my co-worker answered to phone took me home to pick-up my wig. Whew! But now I wish I'd just done it. I have so many excuses for why I just don't wear my natural as I do with many parts of my life. I have given myself a deadline, May 1st. I don't want to feel that way again, trapped in the work bathroom, I don't want to be that way in my relationships either.

I am 10 pounds and color rinse away from a new me.
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Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Still like Ice Cream: Confessions of A Black Gentrifier

It seems like I live on Ta-Nehesi Coates' blog at this point. Tent and hot plate in tow. He posted a link to an article by Shani Hilton Confessions of Black Gentrifier that adds perspective to the D.C. gentrification/black flight issue. Her perspective is somewhat my perspective. You know in my "as soon as I get to D.C." dreams, I too would be a gentrifier. Like eat ice cream, sometimes you feel guilt. Are you part of the problem or part of the cure?

She makes an important comment
But now, living in the city is cool again, thanks in no small part to development incentivized by government investment. And because we live in a “nation of cowards” (as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder put it) where perhaps the only thing harder to talk about than race is class, it’s unsurprising that worries about gentrification boil down to white versus black, instead of educated and privileged versus uneducated and underserved.

And this is true. The conversation about D.C. has been very racial in economic moments and quite economic when speaking of race. It's easier because if we start to cut along class lines we will have to admit that some of us are quite similar to those we despise and much more distant from those that we love and vow to uplift. Much farther than we care to acknowledge much less admit.

The article is criticized for not interviewing the poor Black residents, which I feel is overdone. Including the opinion of a poor Black resident on a Black Gentrifier as opposed to White would have been informative. I believe our general inclination to simplify, to see the world as black and white makes articles like this hard to swallow/accept and thus found far and in between.

[Illustration by Robert Meganck and taken from the article]
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Gentrification is Like Ice Cream

The Washington Post reports that the Chocolate-ness of the famous Chocolate City is fading away. African-Americans have left the city and are onthe verge of loosing their Marjority status. ( I really thought Atlanta was the official "Chocolate City" by now.)
“The Parliament song ‘Chocolate City’ pinned a label on the city,” said poet E. Ethelbert Miller, a leading figure in Washington’s African American arts community. “Well, chocolate melts

Blame gentrification. Higher income individuals and their remodeled homes, increase property values, thus rent and property taxes. So working-class Washington D.C. residents of which are predominately African-American can no longer afford to live there. It reported that the Blacks are moving to the suburbs and the South. Neither of which is metro accessible so I find that very interesting.

Gentrification is like ice cream. I love the idea of eating in, the look of it, the taste of it. I love to see the row of once blighted but now beautifully rehabilitated houses in the inner city. I love the idea of a chic urban dwelling only steps away from work or the small-town girl's dream----a short metro/subway/train away. I can think of leaving my amazing chic dwelling to trot over to the farmers market for a pound of fresh tomatoes and then engage in an incredible conversation about the newest health care initiative on my way to the equally accessible city museum. Skinny chai latte in hand of course. I can almost taste it.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Urban Affairs of the Heart

Ta-Nehisi Coates' article in The Atlantic about a certain area of Detroit exploded if you will, an already burning interest in the city, it's history, its glory and it's decline. I can't describe this feeling as anything less than pure obsession. Although, I am concerned this is more like watching a car crash over and over. While Coates article was a rare piece of good news, the New York Times put out the additional bad news blues about its disintegration. Detroit's population declined 25% over the past decade.

It was the largest percentage drop in history for any American city with more than 100,000 residents, apart from the unique situation of New Orleans, where the population dropped by 29 percent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College.
The number of people who vanished from Detroit — 237,500 — was bigger than the 140,000 who left New Orleans.

I think it is more than a coincidence that I recently attended an Urban Affairs conference in New Orleans this past weekend and there was a panel dedicated solely to the city of Detroit. The big difference between the two cities isn't the number of individuals that fled, but the manner in which they did. New Orleans residents fled (relatively) all at once and trickle back home. Detroit had the painful experience of amputation by butter knife. That kills spirits, morale. It's heartbreaking.
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When the CEO Comes to Your Office

Florida Governor Rick Scott did an agency visit today and the entire headquarters was invited for a "Meet and Greet" (that is what they called it). I will say that he really does come across as a normal guy. He wore a black suit, a blue and red striped tie, and a pair of black cowboy boots tucked under his pants leg. State of Florida pin on his lapel. Political signaling, textbook, chapter 1, 6th or 7th page. As the former private sector CEO that vowed to run the State of Florida as a business, I am glad he is reading the book. He really started off clueless about government and politics, like governors unlike CEOs share power with the legislature. And no, the legislature is not like the board of directors.

His speech was unpolished, which I appreciated. He was like someone I would have a  long talk with on a plane. Very relatable until he referred to the health care reform law as Obamacare...again. There are so many interesting initiatives from the governor's office: mandatory drug testing at random for all government workers, 5% percent salary contributions to state works pensions. I am unsure exactly why he is so invested in the Panama Canal expansion and how that effects Florida's export/import directly. He only briefly mentioned the return of millions of federal dollars for the high-speed rail the state worked tirelessly for years to approve. Importantly, he gave us a pep talk, having to do more with less---he wanted us to be encouraged.

So if your CEO opened the floor for questions, what would you ask? A fellow employee, unafaid of job security asked the governor why he refers to "a federal law as Obamacare", that it comes of as "prejudiced."
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Sun Shiny Day

Tallahassee is a pretty place to be right now. I'm not only talking about the cloudless sky and the 80 weather here but that the Florida State Seminoles have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. When was the last time that happened?!? Oh 1993.

FSU has never really been considered a Basketball school. In fact, my Alma Mater was THE football school in a conference of Basketball schools i.e. Maryland, Duke, UNC. But for whatever reason, I looked around Sunday morning to find that FSU had won their Friday game against Texas A&M and was still in the Tournament. "You have to watch the game tonight, Yaya" my younger brother told me. "It's just might be their last game of the tournament". Oh sure I'll watch, but I refused to get my hopes up even with at steady lead that was as far as 23 points. "You have to get excited, it just might be their last game. Enjoy the moment." I did. Florida State beat #2 seed Notre Dame 71-57.  And I am because while days like this, sunny, warm and amazing come fairly often, they don't always include FSU and University of Florida fans hugging each other (ever, much less congratulating each about basketball) because the two rivals made the Sweet Sixteen. So we are all smiles here in Tallahassee and perhaps even Florida at large. Florida is called the Sunshine State but I believe that the sun is going to shine a little brighter for the next few days.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bloggy Break

I have been starring at my computer for the last week or so with so much to say. So overwhelmed, I didn't know how or when to say it. I started this blog at an interesting place in my life, a place where venting was lethargic and therefore honesty was key. I hold back a great deal more than I should. I mean, I am a grown woman now, I can't say some of the things I said before. I don't have the same experiences, but I do have grown woman issues so I guess I can come forth about those too. The writing isn't hard, its the self-censoring that is difficult. I may cool off on that a bit. Why not?
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Something Good From Detroit

The other day I asked if there is any good new coming out of Detroit. It seemed that the city was a doomed decrepit dwelling. I am so glad that I came upon Te-Nehisi Coates' article in The Atlantic entitled The Other Detroit. So amazing, thought provoking and well written. Affluence still resides in that city and they are Black. Not well to do, affluent. Take that Real Housewives of Atlanta! I feel like I spotted a Chupacabra!
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Passport Ownership By State

Andrew Sullivan at over at The Atlantic features a Map/Chart of the day and as a political scientist I always enjoy them. He recently featured a map showing passport ownership by state. The results aren't shocking to say the least. International travel allows one to see the world in a different way, increasing ethnic tolerance and education. Many can see our similarities with other cultures and only our differences. I would love to see the comparison with other developed countries. I am certain there is a strong relationship between close-mindedness and passport ownership.

Map Of The Day - The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan
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Isn't 13 too young for a tongue ring anyway?

Again, I stress the importance of good examples for children especially our young girls. A 13-year old used 2 magnetic balls often used as toys on office desks to create the illusion of a tongue ring. I mean, really? I always thought of a tongue ring as somewhat a nipple ring. Highly inappropriate for a 13 year-old to even aspire to. The two magnets began to rip her intestines trying to come together. She almost died. What are we doing for our kids?
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Monday, March 07, 2011

NeNe Leakes is Omarosa for 2011

I had a good solid discussion about NeNe and Madea with my BFF a while back. My girl HATES Madea, Tyler Perry and believes Tyler Perry is making money from ridiculing Black women and perpetuating stereotypes. . Well, I think Madea is funny and can not in any shape or form be taken seriously. She is a man in drag for goodness sake. However, we find that NeNe Leakes is revered if you will, for "keeping it real" and "speaking her mind" not caring how anyone else views her. Ok. *shrugs*

Everyone knows a NeNe.  Hell, you might just be a NeNe therefore you think this is acceptable behavior. My issue isn't simply that she is obnoxious but that of ALL the personalities on The Real Housewives of Atlanta she becomes the breakout star. My issue is that once again she is famous because this is what the American public is familiar with. The loud, unrefined, bitter, angry Black woman. Unfortunately this one, unlike Madea is one that the intellectuals have no issue with. So BravoTv makes money, lots of money, peddling this ignorance. She holds the record for the most aparences in the "Watch What Happens" clubhouse with Andy Cohen  of all housewives...ever. Because she brings in the ratings. Black people aren't the only people watching this, thus this is what the public enjoys. People had such an issue with Omarosa in the early 2004 because she seemed to be a walking stereotype. So I also have an issue because she represents a great deal of hypocrisy.

The Root has a great article written by Jacque Reid describing the impact this and other shows like Basketball Wives have on our young girls. Sure I watch it, but 1--I am grown, 2--- I have no kids and 3 --I was lucky enough to have parents that regulated what I watched. I realize comparatively speaking that I had a lot more quality programing in my youth than kids today. Everything Claire Huxtable stood for is dead. Even Thea (Google it!!). Dead  and gone.

[Image via OK Magazine]
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In the most random and depressing news... reported that a teenage father kidnapped his child from its caretaker (can you kidnap your own child? ) and stabbed the 5-month old baby to death before the cops shot and killed the 17 year-old. No one knows why he did it. I mean... really?
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