Wednesday, December 1, 2010

News Reporter Goes Natural!!

Rochelle Ritchie of WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida decided to do a Big Chop! After wearing extensions and wigs for most of her career, Ms. Ritchie is wearing her natural hair and embracing her natural beauty without shame.  I don't know if you can see it, but she seems so much happier (or maybe its just me). Many black women have been led to believe that wearing natural hair is seen as unprofessional, but in reality, this is far from true.  Natural hair can be professional, but I think carrying yourself with confidence and exuding self-love will take you farther than any hairstyle.  Of course, there are still corporate environments that will judge a natural woman by how she looks instead of what she can bring to the table in terms of achievements and education.  This is unfortunate and that organization ends up passing on what may be a fabulous, intelligent sista because of ignorance.  Check out the video at this link with Ms. Ritchie's story and related ones, including a mom who BC'd because of her daughter's negative perception of her own hair.

Peace and Natural Luv!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What is this on my face!!

Baby is almost here and for the most part, I've had a good pregnancy...minus the aches and pains, trouble sleeping, frequent bathroom breaks. But those things are to be expected right? Well, since Saturday I have had these little red bumps on my upper cheeks (the ones on my face :D) and they itch like crazy!! I feel like I have tiny little critters invading my face...what the fudge??!!  I've been blessed to have never had skin issues like acne or psoriasis and I can be a little vain at times, so this itchy redness is not cool right now.  Definitely not a good look.  Off I go to search the internet and scare myself half to death because it could be anything right?  Could be my liver is failing, or I have an undetected birth defect.  This is what the internet will do to about a hypochondriac!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sesame Street:Song: I Love My Hair

Check out this video!! Yet another reason that I love Sesame Street.  Its so refreshing that it encourages little girls to embrace their natural curls, coils and kinks rather than encouraging them to conform to the images that tell them their hair isn't good enough or that it must be straightened to be presentable. Go Sesame Street!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting for Superman: A Review from a Mom's Perspective

Like many parents, my husband and I are faced with a dilemma: public or private education for our 4 year old daughter.  After seeing Davis Guggenheim’s gripping documentary, “Waiting for Superman” our decision was made – it would be private education, no doubt about it.  Unfortunately, our finances dictate otherwise, not unlike many of our friends, and friends of friends that would prefer to send their children to private school, but simply don’t have the means.  Fortunately for us, she attends a great public school with good teachers and other bright kids.  As the film so painfully exposes, this is not so for millions of kids around the country that have no choice but to attend poorly performing schools that do not equip them for the real world, by any means.  Waiting for Superman is truly a heartbreaker. The desperation and pain of the kids and parents featured is a result of an all too common scenario – the neighborhood school is horrendous, but there’s a top performing charter school nearby. Unfortunately there are only 35 spaces, but a gazillion applicants, so a lottery is held.  The students in the movie, Francisco, Anthony, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, all from different parts of the county, are waiting to hear if they’ve been accepted into the school that seems to be the answer to their family’s prayers.  The process is heartbreaking, but the resulting feeling of helplessness hurts even more. 
                The film also features what it deems one of the worst school systems in the nation – DC Public Schools, of which I am a proud product.  It portrays Michelle Rhee as a hero reformer, up against the evil American Federation of Teachers.  I think Mr. Guggenheim got some of this wrong, but you judge for yourself.  I will say, however, that the current union contract makes it nearly impossible to fire poor teachers and that has to change.  When doctors or lawyers are proven incompetent, they generally lose their license to practice their trade.  Not so for an incompetent teacher, who directly impacts the lives of countless kids over his or her career, and ultimately impacts the future of our country. 
                Lastly, the film exposed me to a process called tracking.  In a word, I’m appalled that this is happening in our education system.  To put it briefly, tracking is separating kids based on their ability (or perception thereof), into groups of above average ability, average ability and below average ability.  So, if a third grader appears to be lagging behind the other kids, she is placed on a track of mediocrity which can follow her for the rest of her school career.  Where is the effort to help her understand, to determine how she learns best?  
When I heard about tracking, I was relieved that I took the time to try my best to prepare our daughter for school and as a result she is considered advanced, even in Pre-K.  I won’t accept mediocrity from her because that would be a disservice.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that kids should be allowed to run and jump and play, but somewhere in there, even before they are school-age, learning should be taking place.  The TV won't cut it. We have to send teachable, well-prepared, well-behaved kids into the school system in order for them to have even a remote chance at competing globally.  See, it’s not just about competing for jobs with other Americans anymore.  The US ranks 25th in math and 21st in science out of 30 industrialized nations, yet we question why high tech, high paying jobs are being filled by non-Americans.  We have to do better, our future depends on it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

She's going to school!!

I'm so excited...sort of. I finally broke down and officially registered DD for her pre-k program.  She will be attending half days at a really good school and I'm happy for her.  As for myself, I think I'll be suffering from a bit of separation anxiety, but I'm sure grad school, my part-time job and getting ready for the new baby will keep me busy. 

I'm confident that she's prepared (if not overly-prepared, if that's possible).  She's just the most intelligent, witty, comical 4 year old you'll ever meet.  Yeah, yeah, I'm biased, but's true. 

This post is turning out to be all about her because I just have to share this hairstyle she's rocking. It's totally cute, and I think I'm going to do a variation of it on my hair (or not).  It's a Kai-Lan inspired hair style from Beads, Braids & Beyond, via Curly Nikki. Check it out:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm feeling this...

My new hair style...I'm just loving it! Plus, I can stop messing in it and maybe it will actually grow to the length that I want!  I kind of feel like I'm channeling Dorothy Dandridge in this pic, but as a natural. I could be a bit delusional, but oh well.

Here's what I did - I box braided my entire head (which took like 4 days, because I can't just sit and braid my hair all day), and set the braids on small (purple) perm rods.  I didn't sit under a dryer, just let it air dry and voila! I love it. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Skin...The Movie

I saw this movie over a year ago and I am ashamed that I'm just getting around to writing about it.  In a nutshell, I LOVE THIS MOVIE!! It is based on the book, When She Was White, by Judith Stone, which was an amazing read. I read the book prior to seeing it, and I truly enjoyed the book more, but that is usually what happens with me.  I enjoy good books because of how the reader can imagine the scenes and characters for themselves.  The story details the life of a black South African woman, Sandra Laing, born to white parents during the apartheid era.  You can imagine the struggle that this woman endured during a time when there were stringent restrictions on relationships between blacks, whites and coloureds. A major part of the story is the determination of Sandra's father to have her permanently classified as white, even though she clearly is not, in order for it to be legal for Sandra to live with her family. To be clear, Sandra's parents were definitely pro-apartheid, so it had to have caused them some internal strife to have a child as brown as she.  Based on physical traits (i.e., hair texture, language, skin color), Sandra is classified as coloured at the age of 10 and expelled from the "whites only" school she is attending.  Ultimately, the government would reclassify Sandra 3 times over the course of 40 years. 

A discussion point raised in the book (available at Amazon), is the small segment of DNA that actually determines skin color. People share 99.9 % of the same genes, with very minor genetic variations that determine skin color. It is such a small biological difference among the races, but has historically been a huge factor in human conflict over the ages. I may be sounding like an idealist now, but if we could all learn to appreciate our differences, instead of using them as a reason to hate each other, so many of our conflicts could be minimized. I'll keep on dreaming....

Back to the movie. The actress who played Sandra Laing is Sophie Okonedo. I absolutely love her and feel that her talent is so underutilized. She is an amazing of those rare types that can actually sink into her role so that you identify so much with her character and forget that you are watching Sophie. Know what I mean?

Unfortunately, there has been limited release in the U.S., but according to the website, a DVD release is to be expected here in the coming months. I saw it last year at a film festival in DC, but I don't think I would have even known about the movie if I hadn't read the book. Reading really is fundamental! I know I'm such a cornball.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's World Water Day!!

Water is one of the aspects of our planet that I am most passionate about and since it's World Water Day, I just had to write something.  We all know that the Earth is composed of about 70% water, but did you know that only about 1% of it is available as freshwater for our use?  Unfortunately, nearly 1 billion people lack access to healthy water, yet we still waste water and damage our freshwater sources with pollutants.  Demand for water is increasing significantly with continued population growth, so now is the time to take action to protect our water sources.  Visit The Nature Conservancy  and World Water to find out more about World Water Day and what you can do to help. 

Here are some basic things you can do (in case you don't make it to the websites):  Install low-flow shower heads and aerators;  always turn off the water while brushing teeth (make sure the kiddies do too); and take showers instead of baths (quick ones!)  We have done all of the above, but DH's shower times are still an issue -  I'm working on it though!  We have also filled large juice bottles (like Ocean Spray jugs) with water and put them in the toilet tanks to reduce how much water we use to flush.  I'm also hoping that this summer we will be able to get a rain barrel to water our lawn instead of using public water.  If you are planning to landscape your yard, please choose plants that are native to your region and that consume less water to stay healthy.  Also, please be mindful of what you use on your lawn.  Those chemical fertilizers and herbicides that make suburban lawns so lush and green can be very toxic.  The residues can run off into streams and rivers or seep into soil and pollute the underlying groundwater.    These contaminants also reduce oxygen levels which can kill fish and other wildlife, accumulate in the tissue of the fish we catch and eat from the lakes and reduce the beauty of the water. 

So, lets make some small changes so that EVERYONE can have access to safe, clean water.  Happy World Water Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reduced, Reused, Recycled into....a Dollhouse!

Some months back, I made some bendy dolls for my daughter out of chenille sticks (above) and wooden beads,  but they didn't have a place to live. So, for Christmas, dh and I bought her a really cute modular dollhouse.  She loved it! Well, she also started playing with and receiving Barbies, which made me remember how much I loved them when I was a kid (way before I got all irked about their unrealistic size).  All that aside, Barbies can be cool, in my opinion.  So, before I knew it, she had 5 dolls - 3 that were gifts (including Grace), and 2 that I got from the thrift store and gave makeovers to.  I then decided that I wanted a few "collectables" for myself, so I have 2, for a total of 7 dolls who needed a home.  Since we had just bought the modular dollhouse and weren't planning on spending anymore money, I decided to use some empty boxes to make a dollhouse. Well, I must say, IT IS SO COOL!  Check out the pictures:

Just about everything in this dollhouse is made from things I found around my house outside of the kitchen "wallpaper", which is scrapbooking paper bought at .59 a sheet and the rocking chairs, which I found for .25 a piece (there is one in the picture - the other is being painted), and the mirrors which my girl SB (who helped me with my hair) bought from the dollar store.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blood, Sweat and Takeaways...

This is a show that comes on Planet Green, and I must say, it is a great show.  Read more about it here. It really, really makes one think about how all the food that we consume gets on our plates.  It's based in the UK, but the same premise can apply in the US - do we aimlessly consume food without thinking about what sacrifices are made to get it to us?  I have made a commitment to make healthier food choices (I don't really eat a lot of junk anyway, but sweets are my downfall), but now, since watching the show, I want to gain a better understanding of the human costs of the food I buy.  Buying more fair trade items is my preferred way of doing this, but is there more that I can do? That we all can do?

Some food for thought - many of the workers that supply some of our food survive on less than $7 per day, most others, even less than that.

P.S. There is a follow up to this/sister show called Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts. Same premise, but applied to clothing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So In Style Barbie - Grace's Makeover

My daughter received a S.I.S Barbie for Christmas and her name is Grace. If you haven't heard, there has been some controversy about how none of the Barbies in this line have natural hair, yadda yadda yadda. Well, I personally think that Grace is beautiful!!! I love her features (outside of her skinniness, but in reality there really are women that are thin and it's all good. I would love to see an affordable fashion doll with a more curvaceous figure. I think I've figured out an alternative though, I'll talk about it in a later post).

So, back to the matter at hand.  Grace did not come to us with natural hair.  Despite her apparent addiction to the CFC (chemical fire cream), I really like her and my DD loves her.   I have read a lot of comments about the S.I.S. line not representing the true beauty of black women because of her hair.  Well, here's my opinion: she's a doll. I would have loved to see a natural in this collection, but I don't rely on Mattel to portray my desired image to my daughter - I do that myself.  She loves her mommy's natural hair - she tells me all the time: "Ooh, mommy, I love your hair" or "You are so creative to do that to your hair!" Her words, not mine.  Before I get on my soapbox, let me get to the point.  Grace's hair was designed to be stylable (if that's a word). She came with a curling iron, a spray bottle and a bunch of hair accessories, which I decided was a bit much at this point (DD is 3), so I put them a secret place for later.  But, I did want to see what her hair could do.   I decided, with DDs permission of course, to give her a different look.  I wet her hair and rolled it with pipe cleaners that I cut to about 2 inches wide. Basically, using the same technique as a flexi-rod set, I rolled and bent the pipe cleaners to secure them.  Then I poured boiling water over her hair, then poured ice cold water over her hair to set it and let her stand overnight in a mason jar - talk about a long day in the salon!!  The next day, I carefully took out the flexi rods, fluffed and voila! a curly-haired Grace.  Check her out:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Esperanza Spalding!!!

I think I have a girl crush on  Seriously, she is Baaaad! Extremely talented singer, musician and all around cool lady.  She was handpicked by Barack Obama himself to perform in Oslo as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, how cool is that? Check out her website here.  I mean, how can she play a double bass AND sing beautifully at the same time?? We need so many more musicians like her. One of the things that I love most about her is that she rocks her natural hair unapologetically.  In every image I've seen of her, she is wearing an afro, just beautiful natural hair everywhere.  She embraces her hair the way it grows out of her head, which is fabulous.  Okay, I'm through geeking over her...check her out yourself.