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New Growth

8 Dec

Hair is a historically precious currency in the Black community–its length, style and texture was both the owner’s passport and credit rating.

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In the days where straight hair ruled supreme, those with naturally kinky textures had to convert this raw material through chemicals and/or hot combs into a more socially acceptable mass.

But the magic was simply temporary. Within a matter of time, water, sweat or simple new growth–a fresh crop of raw, unprocessed, unstraightened hair–foiled the transformation. Like Cinderella’s golden carriage gave way to its pumpkin origins, the tight coils would always eventually return.

I’ve been natural since college. . .kinda. I couldn’t wait to leave home and all I knew to start fresh with my unprocessed, unstraightened curls. Haha. It was much harder than I imagined.

My attempts at twists, afros and everything in between looked nothing like images I dreamed of. For me, it represented the change from the girl I was to the woman I wanted to be: free, empowered and confident. A woman embracing what she was naturally given.

But the reality simply didn’t match the ideal. I had no idea how to manage, style and maintain what grew from my head. Luckily, one of the girls on campus helped me. She would transform my hair through intricate braids and designs. Love her for it.

My dreadlock journey is about nine years old. But like my initial naturalhair trials, it hasn’t been an easy one.

I had to learn how to care for them. Through warm weather, cold weather, through hair color, through thinning ends and intense swimming sessions in chlorine pools, I’ve had to cut my locks in two big chops over the years to ensure their health.

Health over looks. That’s become my mantra. So over the past year I made the decision to stop coloring my locks. Now, I can literally track the growth by the black roots.

In many ways, my hair journey has modeled my life. From the outside looking in, sometimes I’ve felt stunted. I’ve mocked its snail’s pace and felt my accomplishments should mirror my expectations and the growth of others. But my most frustrating moments, I am forced to turn my eyes inward, forced to examine the roots. And I remember that’s where the future lies: the new growth.

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Justified

9 Nov

Justice should be easy to define. Fair. Equal. Those are terms we grow up hearing from pre-k. And justice for all caps the pledge that we recite from elementary school.

But the favored learn late what the unlucky learn early: Justice isn’t easy to embody or define. It’s not black or white, wrong or right. Instead it lives in hues of gray.

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It’s conditional. It alters itself based on the parties involved and shape shifts to serve some more than others. Because it’s manned by humans–each bringing his or her own set of flaws, biases and assumptions to the system.

Last month, I was one of dozens of artists who signed up for the task of depicting Justice in an original creation. My thought process? Try to capture the complexity of Lady Justice’s job. I used the traditional image of Blind Justice but depicted her seated and awkwardly balancing the scales, struggling to maintain the appearance of fairness. I wondered how she would see the shootings? Justified? Or misguided? I used relevant newspaper and magazine clippings, play money, ribbon, buttons and bubble wrap to capture the internal struggle she would face.

The bubble wrap was my favorite part. To me, it represented the recent obsession with the sanctity of the flag and using it to cover up any criticism of the country in general. The Kaepernick kneel was a response to the injustice faced by communities of color at the hands of rogue or biased members of the justice community: bad biased cops who took justice into their own hands and justified it by using the age-old fear of the unknown. Bad fatal decisions based on prejudices that screwed perspectives and justified the unjustifiable. Beneath each bubble wrapped stripe is a question about the parity of these situations. It shows no matter how much we may want to sweep the issue under the rug, under the purity of the red, white and blue, it’s there, like a stain.

All Seats are not created equal

5 Nov

Chris is obsessed with anything Marvel or DC Comics. And his obsession has become my own. Haha. “Thor Ragnarok” was the highlight of our week. We arrived about an hour early on Thursday evening to one of few movie theaters without pre-selected seating.

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We selected the perfect seats: Front and center with extra leg space thanks to some railings strategically placed in front. There was an empty seat to my left and one to his friend’s right.

About 10 minutes before the commercials start, we were asked by a pair of young ladies if we would be willing to slide over one seat so they could sit together in the left over seats.

Here’s the problem. Shifting over affected nobody but me: moving one seat over meant I had less leg space and had to fight for an arm rest with s stranger. I was not a happy camper.

Chris saw my face. And immediately explained unfortunately no, we wouldn’t be able to move, but could take the open seats. They found a pair of seats offcenter the row below.

When I glanced around, there were seats all over the place. There was a pair of vacant seats directly behind us to the right. Why on Earth, I wondered did they feel it was fine to inconvenience three people so that duo could have one of the best seats in the house?

Now, I didn’t own this seat. I paid the same amount of money–well Chris paid the same amount of money–for my seat as the girls did. I merely borrowed it for the length of the movie. But for that two hours it was mine. Muahahaha.

I realized then, in that span of time, how unapologetically possesive I could become.

How much more would I fight for something I actually owned, that I felt I had a vested interest in: a seat at the proverbial table? Like the pair, I want great seat at the proverbial table: one with a perfectly centered view, extra leg space, and free armrests.

Mint, Rosemary and Basil

29 Oct

I’ve always wanted a garden. When I was a kid, I begged my dad to let us plant flowers. When he conceded, I happily tended to the plants for about a week until I realized how much work it entailed. Long story short, the flowers became my dad’s responsibility while I forgot about them in search of some other interest.

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Painting Pumpkins

29 Oct

20171021_160703Paper towels, wet wipes and water were the stars of this year’s pumpkin paint party. It should come as no surprise. Whether for paint-coated hands, hair or chairs (yikes), the all stars of cleanups are essential anytime the primary guests have yet to meet puberty. This wasn’t my first rodeo: It was my seventh.

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All That Glitters. . .

20 Aug

g%20Simone-Biles_gymnastics-ornamentPizza, fries and quality time with Zach Efron: that was all the most winningest gymnast craved after clinching her fourth Olympic gold medal on Tuesday. In a post-performance interview, she teased Olympic partner-in-crime Aly Raisman for wanting to nap instead. If Michael Phelps was the Olympics’ king, this year Simone Biles proved to be its queen, toting four gold medals and a single bronze back to the States. But as she dazzlingly vaulted, tumbled and body rolled her way into Olympic stardom, another Final Five teammate’s sparkle flickered. Continue reading

Returning Roger Enrico’s Investment

5 Jun

15530_817603988040_7446985245473508698_nOn Thursday morning, I received a tough text from my favorite high school teacher: Roger Enrico, the man who had put me and countless others through college, had died. The timing was uncanny. He was scheduled to have breakfast with me and about eight fellow Enrico scholarship recipients in Dallas on tomorrow, Monday morning. I poured over the articles in “The New York Times”, “Adweek” and “Wall Street Journal.” They all praised his legendary career and philanthropy. But that only scratched the surface.   Continue reading