Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kinky Misconceptions

Andre Walker has won 5 Emmy Awards for his work as Oprah Winfrey's personal hair stylist. He also has his own line of hair products, where you can find a wonderful bottle of conditioner for $25. Many women turn to Walker for advice on haircare. This is why his recent comments on kinky hair found in this month Elle magazine are especially troubling.

Apparently, his motto is to "make peace with you hair." Well, not if your shit is kinky. If it is, you better go to war armed with creamy crack!

"I always recommend embracing your natural texture. Kinky hair can have limited styling options; that’s the only hair type that I suggest altering with professional relaxing."- Andre Walker

So unless you want to go around looking like Topsy, you
need to chemically straighten your hair?

Gurl, please! Look, my hair is kinky, okay. Ethnically curly, coily, peasy... NAPPY! When I rock a fro, it feels like freshly picked cotton. No curl pattern, no shine, my hair is straight nappy! But after seven years of being natural, I would not change a damn thing about it. You know why? Because I don't need to change a damn thing about it!

I'm not at all an expert but I can attest to the fact that my nappy hair care is not unbearable, and it sure as hell is not limiting. Last week I stepped out with pinned up curly twists. Tomorrow I'm going to rock a curly afro. My updos range from pompadours to french rolls. Last time I checked, the only style my non-black sistas rocked was the ponytail (no offense). As for the manageability, some of my hairstyles take a lot of time but they also last for a long time. Oh and I don't need a rake to comb it.

Alright lets cut straight to the issue here. Walker's comments are just another example of internalized racism amongst us black people. Our natural hair is our most unique feature. Why then do the vast majority of black people in the entire world choose to straighten it? Some will say it is because of aesthetic reasons but more will claim that straightened hair is simply more convenient. In other words, natural hair (kinky hair) is just too much of a hassle.

Bullshit. I'm not too familiar with the history, but for centuries black people have neglected learning about how to properly care for their natural hair. Instead, "hair care" has always been interpreted as needing to fix hair in its natural state. Hot combs, relaxers and weaves are not true hair care. Instead they shield us from not having to "struggle" with our real hair. Our real, kinky, really kinky hair.

So, Andre Walker, hair care connoisseur and fellow black person, you get a major side eye for being irresponsible and misinforming kinky sistas. And for my fellow kinky sistas and brothers, keep it nappy and happy.

Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self

In the wise words of Ice Cube, "check yo self before you wreck yo self, cause I come real stealth, I'm bad for your health". Truer words have never been spoken, especially when concerning that big disease with a little name. You know what I'm talking about. HIV.

This past Monday, June 27th, was National HIV Testing Day. The email I received from my state senator, reminding me to get tested, was the only advertisement I've seen regarding this very important day. Hopefully you all out there have seen more. If not, that's a huge disappointment and problem.

I'm not going to bemoan a point we've all heard before. Hopefully the importance of safe sex and getting tested regularly has been drilled into you by your parents who now that you're 21 find it too easy to bring up sex with you or that sex ed teacher who liked to share too much information about their own sex lives. If so, then take this as as just another soapbox moment from someone who intends to remain HIV negative for the rest of her life and hopes you do as well.
And if you haven't really been taught the ropes about condoms, dental dams, and yes even latex gloves- well...use them when engaging in oral, anal, kinky, menage a trois, running train, or just plain ol' cowgirl style sex. Don't ever be intimidated to ask your partner to use one, even if it's just fallatio or cunnilingus [1]. And please don't think sexy time is over if homeboy has to make a Trey Songz style Store Run. Trust me, it ain't. If anything I think it's sexier.


Now back to your regularly scheduled program.


Really, it's that simple. If you're scared, go with a friend or at least talk with one to get some reassurance. Even if it's a clinic you happen to be driving by one day, take some time out to get it done. It's free at a variety of places, so having no money is a terrible excuse. And you can often get your results right then. So why not?

My senator and his lovely wife (brownie points if you recognize her) have been plugging their "Test Together" campaign for years now. 

They have a wonderful site: where you can plug in your zip code and receive nearby places to get tested. It even tells you the place offers the test free, the type of HIV test, and if you can be tested for other STDs there [2]. So convenient. So I hope you will spread the word and website to your friends and family.With the CDC reporting that while blacks represent approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for almost half (46 percent) of people living with HIV in the US, as well as nearly half (45 percent) of new infections each year, it's time to step our game up folks and stop the foolishness.

Seriously folks, let's get it together. Keep it safe and get checked regularly. Not just for yourself, but for your partners and their partners too. And if you have already gotten tested and practice safe sex, I pray that you will only have good sex, you deserve it. It's a movement.

And if you are living with HIV/AIDs, I can only hope that you are succeeding in living as healthy and wonderful a life as possible. Peace and blessings.

[1] Oh she fancy huh?
[2] Seriously, I suggest getting tested for everything in one go. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Madman in his Most Incandescent Bloom

There is a lot of thought that goes into my selection for Throwbacks! I'm a music freak and have a wide array of musical tastes. My favorites are neo-soul and funk but I love 90's house, 80's pop, 70's disco, 60's soul and 50's doo-wop. My two step stays steady when the DJ spins Frankie Beverly and Maze and best believe I go in when a hip hop club banger is played. And if I'm looking to be on that conscious tip, I can listen to Nasty Nas, Bob Dylan or Damien Marley.

Or Charles Mingus. Which leads me to my Throwback for this week.

A jazz icon, Charles Mingus was an accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. He is however most celebrated as a bassist and was one of the leading musicians during the 50's, the big band era in jazz music. Mingus apparently was prone to angry outbursts and temper tantrums, earning him the nickname, the "Angry Man in Jazz." However, many of his song themes were reflective of his disgust of the country's racial oppression. Like other black musicians of that time, he incorporated his civil rights activism in his music.

In 1957, the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus sent the National Guard to Little Rock Central High, blocking nine back students from entry into the racially segregated school even though they were already enrolled. The event further polarized an already divided nation. Hostility sparked from white racists who picketed the school in droves. They made lynch threats to the students and the civil right activists who protested on their behalf. Joining the chorus of those angered by gross racial injustice, Charles Mingus recorded "Fables of Faubus," arguably his most political work. The protest song was recorded in 1959, but Columbia refused to allow for the lyrics to be featured on the album. A year went by before the original recording surface.

What is old is new again. Music is kept alive by message and that is what I had in mind when selecting Charles Mingus' music for this week's Throwback. After a fabulous weekend with Sista Zipporah Pierce at the Gay Pride festivities, I am still celebrating my gay brothers and sisters being granted the right to marry in the state of New York. This was a major achievement for us as a society but the struggle for full equality remains arduous. Songs like "Freedom" and "Fables of Faubus" remind us of the tough path made for us to follow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Personal Libraries

You were worried, right? You were like, 'omgggg why isn't zippy posting? What is I gon' dooo?!' Sorry about that homies. I'm in a transitional time and so my focus has been elsewhere.

Anyway- I have really exciting news. I just rediscovered my private library INCLUDING really old diaries. Just so you know, I have been writing in journals/dairies since I was abut 7 and so, that's about 15 years of documented personal growth. But this post is about books and why everyone should have a personal library.

Tucked away in one of the dankest, cobwebbiest areas of my room were stacks and stacks of books that I have been collecting over the past 7 years. Since I'm rummaging through all of my stuff to try and make it fit int my apartment, my mini-project for today was to attack the stacks! Instead of just getting irritated by all the dust, I noticed that these books also document how my intellectual curiosities have grown, faded and developed. For example, I notice that in my first year of college level French, I read le Venus D'Ile and it's sort of a feminist book. That following summer, I was ripping through more feminist and womanist literature [in English]. I also have a stack of egyptology books I collected in '06-'07 and then I just stopped being actively interested and therefore don't have any more of those books. I can look at my bookshelf and though I'm just looking at dusty, tattered, scribbled in bound pieces of paper, I'm really peering into myself.

Do you all have personal libraries? Do you feel the same way about them?
Any other journal keepers in the raum?!
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