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4 Affirmations for Black Folks with Natural Hair

6 Sep

GIF hair

Filled with frustration in my inability to rake through and put my short, 4C hair into a simple afro puff, I ran into the kitchen, grabbed the scissors from the cabinet, and snipped off a chunk of my poorly styled hairdo.

Immediately, I regretted it.

It didn’t seem like a big deal to my family and friends because I’d chopped my hair off five years previous and worn a buzz cut for about three years. But I was having a Next Top Model Makeover Meltdown and sobbed as I switched from scissors to electric clippers, shaving my head to a nearly-bald state.

Though I was previously working on learning to style and take proper care of my hair, frustration got the best of me.

For five days, I avoided mirrors – partially because I didn’t like the way it looked and partially because I couldn’t believe I’d gotten that upset about not being able to style my hair.

Also, I knew that shaving it for the second time meant I was once again waving the white flag on my quest for the perfect afro. I had been two years deep in the regrowth process and my hair had grown rapidly in that time. I was nearly bald, again.

Now, a few weeks out, I’ve started growing it out again. And I’m starting to love all the things my hair can do, even in its super short state.

As naturals, we know that black hair can be a fun, sensitive, and complicated issue.

Some of us spend hours in the mirror or at the salon/barbershop to get some of the coolest, gravity-defying, head-turning, stylish looks.

Others have had countless debates on natural vs. not-natural hair. Others have had tireless (and often fruitless) discussions with our non-black associates on why it is not okay for white celebrities, fashion designers, and beauty magazines to appropriate our styles.

Despite the vast information on the internet on why our hair is both personal and political, we seem to be in a constant battle with people and institutions that feel the need to insert their opinions, stating that our hair is not tame enough or professional enough for their liking. 

For this reason, we sometimes need a few reminders of just how cool our hair is.

Try out these four affirmations on the days when you’re not feeling great about your hair.

Read more at Everyday Feminism. 

How I Confront Sex Positivity and Consent as an Asexual Feminist

2 Aug

Ace Flag 1

I was scrolling down my Tumblr feed the other day, when I came across a post in all caps that read, “THE ‘A’ DOES NOT STAND FOR ‘ALLY!’”

I immediately got the reference, and chuckled a bit, because it’s a common misconception about the LGBTQIA+ acronym I used to have. It wasn’t until I started to question my own sexuality that I understood the A represented a sexual orientation I hadn’t realized I was: asexual.

I first considered that I was asexual about three years ago, when I was still a virgin. I had met the perfect guy, but I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to sleep with him.

For some reason I thought I would feel something magical and intense, and in that moment, I would know it was the right time. It seems silly, but for someone who has never experienced sexual attraction, that is how I imagined people decided they wanted sex.

That feeling of readiness never happened. Eventually, I became impatiently curious, and figured I’d try it out. My first time was more of an experiment for me rather than a real desire to have sex.

As an asexual person, “ace” for short, I do not experience sexual attraction, which is what generally characterizes aces. As an added bonus, I also do not experience sexual desire and sometimes feel a bit sex averse. Asexuality has a spectrum, so there is a lot of diversity in the asexual community, people who experience varying levels of attraction, desire, and aversion.

I wasn’t ready to accept my asexuality three years ago. After misunderstanding it for about two years and reading about alternatives for why I had no desire for sex, I decided to take an online test that was supposed to tell me if I was asexual or not.

My results… read more at Slutist.

Respectability Politics: 4 Hints Your Approaches to Empowering Black Communities Are Harmful

18 Jul

There’s a running joke about whether or not black people should eat chicken in public.

When I’d bring a packed lunch with chicken wings to the office, I’d laugh at myself as I heated it up in the break room, thinking, “Am I really about to sit down with a plate of fried chicken in front of all these white folks?”

Of course I would. The chicken stereotype seemed silly to me, but there were other stereotypes I worked hard not to portray. 

I used to viciously side-eye anyone who argued that twerking was empowering. I’d quietly shame people who enjoyed reality TV shows like Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop. And I preferred artists like Janelle Monae over Nicki Minaj because I thought Nicki was a modern day example of the Jezebel stereotype.

I didn’t like anything that made black people look like we didn’t have home training. I wanted society to see positive images, like the high rates of black college graduates or the thriving black business owners.

To me, people who embodied stereotypes were enemies to black progress. These were my respectability politics.

Respectability politics are rules used by marginalized groups to help assimilate and survive in hostile environments that aren’t as accepting of other cultures. These rules define acceptable behavior based on mainstream values. They define how to act in front of (white) company.

These politics are frequently found in conversations about how to tackle racism and anti-blackness in America and how to uplift black communities.

For instance, some black parents will teach their children to dress and act a certain way around police officers, in hopes that their children will not suffer the fate of children like Mike Brown and Tamir Rice.

With the exceptions of a few “news” personalities whose intentions no one can be too sure of (ahem, Don Lemon and Stacey Dash), respectability politics typically comes from well-meaning people who love and support black people. Our mothers, teachers, friends, favorite musicians, and relatives use them to better our communities and protect loved-ones from oppressive situations… Read More at Everyday Feminism.

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