What’s It Going To Take For Black Hair To Be Seen As Professional? [via HuffPost]

5c5b4095260000d401fb0aa1Last week the New York City Human Rights Commission released new guidelines that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of hairstyle. Under the guidelines, residents have the right to have “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.” And any targeting they may face in a public place like work or school can be deemed racial discrimination.

When I read this long overdue measure toward equality, I immediately thought about my grandparents and a specific day in the spring of 2012.

I was just a few weeks away from my college graduation and was visiting my family in Virginia during spring break. I recall sitting at the table in my grandparents’ house with my grandma, grandpa, mom, sister, aunt and cousin. We were having an important family discussion, or what some might call an intervention.

The issue on the table? My hair.

I’d recently stopped getting relaxers after more than 13 years of keeping my hair chemically straightened. Trying to tame my growing naps with just a flatiron was proving a frustrating and futile fight, so I grabbed the scissors to finally do a big chop and cut off all my relaxed ends, revealing a teeny weeny Afro for all to see.

And what my family saw was a problem that needed solving.

Read more on HuffPost.com

Why Even Try? Well…Why Not?

So last week I wanted to write a thing about self-love. I wanted to write it for Valentines Day because, you know, tis the season to show love and who better to show love to than yourself? But I got really sick that week and did not feel like writing and when I finally got around to it, I felt like it was too late to introduce my ideas on love to the internets.

Years of working for news sites and magazines has drilled into me the importance of timeliness. If you’re too late on a story or an idea, you might as well just throw the whole thing away. Someone else has probably already gotten to it and has probably done it better. Or else it’s so far after the moment that no one is going to care about it anymore anyway, what’s the point?

And I’m noticing this “it’s too late, what’s the point” mindset exists in both my professional and my personal life.Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 10.12.56 AM

I tell myself it’s too late and there’s no point in doing things that I really want to do. I tell myself there’s no point in starting a podcast, there are so many in the market already. Or I tell myself why bother going to the gym? It’s going to take way too long to get the results you want and you should’ve started earlier, it’s too late now. Or I tell myself I’m far too old to be making new friends or making a career change.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m starting a race 10 miles behind everyone else. Or maybe I’m not behind other people, but I can’t seem catch up to the best version of myself in my imagination. And so I tell myself, “what’s the point in starting to run now when you’re so far behind? Why even try? You might has well not even bother.

And many times, I don’t bother. There are some days (most days actually) where I just decide not to do anything at all. Because whatever cool idea I have has probably already been done (and done better than I could do it) and by the time I get started, it’ll be far too late.

I’m in my late 20’s and my peers and I seem to be at the age when we believe time is running out. We’re running out of time to buy a house, to get married, to get a dream job, to get our shit together. And sometimes that feeling of missing a certain deadline can be so defeating, that we don’t even bother making a new deadline or goal.

We tell ourselves “I’m too late, too far behind, there’s no point. I might as well not even try.

And I wonder where this pressure to keep up or catch up comes from. Continue reading

7 Times Rihanna Was Unapologetic About Her Blackness [via HuffPost]

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Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty unapologetically embraces her sexiness, her talent and her Blackness and that fearlessness reminds me to live just as boldly in my skin.

Here’s the thing: I don’t need to Rihanna to “remind” me I’m also Black. I can see I’m Black when I look in the mirror, when I show up to the office or when I go out into the world. But Rihanna does remind me that my Blackness is powerful, that the culture I come from is complex and deserves respect. She inspires me to show up fully as myself in all rooms I enter, be it a boardroom or a bedroom.

Still, when I need a boost in confidence, I turn to some of my favorite memor-Rihs (see what I did there?) of when the singer showed the world that she’s a proud Black woman.

Read more at HuffPost.com

10 Quotes About Love From Iconic Black History Makers [via HuffPost]

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 3.21.03 PMFeb. 14 is an amazing holiday within a holiday. It’s a time to celebrate love when we’re also celebrating the numerous contributions of Black Americans from the past and the present during Black History Month. And these Black history icons have a lot to teach us about what love means not only in relationships, but in our community and for ourselves.

On Valentine’s Day, let’s take some lessons on love from 10 Black history makers of yesterday and today who remind us what real love should look like.

Read more on HuffPost.com

[HuffPost] Beyoncé’s Black History Month Collage Teaches Us A Powerful Lesson

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 12.08.35 PMBeyoncé remains the queen of poignant Black History Month moments. In 2016, she dropped her hit-single-turned-black-anthem “Formation.” In 2017, she revealed her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi Carter. And this year, she surprised us with a creative reminder to recognize the black history happening around us every day, with a photo collage on her website honoring 45 black men and women who have done and are doing amazing work in the black community.

The collage honors some well-known names in black history like Aretha Franklin, James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. It also features famous faces from today like Beyoncé’s sister, Solange; Emmy Award-winning producer Lena Waithe; and activists DeRay Mckesson and Janet Mock. And it features some people who you may not recognize ― but should definitely get to know.

Read more at HuffPost.com

It’s Not You, It’s Probably (Definitely) Me.

Hello. This is the story of how a children’s show helped me realize how I’ve fucked up some of my relationships and how I can fix them.

When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was The Powerpuff Girls. I’d argue with anyone that the original run of that series is one of the greatest television programs of all time (fight me). It was truly empowering, surprisingly hilarious and even sometimes scary (I mean, remember Him? The terrifying, gender-queer demon queen in thigh-high boots and a feather boa? I stan forever)!

I also digress because today, I find myself thinking about another recurring villain on the show: Mojo Jojo. In a season 1 episode titled “Mr. Mojo’s Rising,” Mojo Jojo, the monkey mastermind behind multiple schemes to destroy Townsville realizes how his arch nemeses, the titular Powerpuff Girls, came to be in his life and foil all of his plans. Spoilers inbound.Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 9.05.50 AM Continue reading

[HuffPost] Are You Asking Me To Talk The ‘Right’ Way Or The ‘White’ Way?

Hand raised in class

As a child, whenever I raised my hand in class and asked, “Can I sharpen my pencil?” “Can I go to the nurse?” “Can I go to the bathroom?” I was always met with the same dry, sarcastic response followed by an expectant stare from my instructor:

“I don’t know. Can you?

It’s not that my teachers were denying me permission. They were waiting for me to ask the “right” way. According to what I was taught in all of my primary school English classes, I was supposed to say “May I,” not “Can I,” and I wouldn’t get anywhere in the classroom (or in life) until I learned the difference.

I suppose that my teachers, by staring at me while I held my bladder and my hand in the air, thought they were teaching me a valuable lesson on grammar and communication. What they were really providing was a much more valuable lesson on white supremacy, microaggressions and respectability politics, all before lunchtime.

We’re all taught “proper” English from the first day we step into the classroom. Our version of words like “betta,” “sayin’” and “turnt” must, we’re told, become the more socially acceptable “better,” “saying” and “turned.”

We’re scolded for using the habitual “be” when we say things like “we be hangin’ out.” We’re assigned books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel Hawthorne and George Orwell and told to start speaking like the majority-white authors we read in school.

Everyone ― black, brown and white ― is taught that one way of speaking is better than the other, and we carry this notion throughout our lives. As an editor, I enforce these rules of speech myself when reading and correcting other people’s work.

But there’s a thin line between the “right” way of speaking and the white way.

READ MORE AT HUFFPOST.COM

[HuffPost] Big Freedia: My Voice Is All I Need To Break Barriers

Big Freedia

Big Freedia did not come to play with you hoes, as she’d say. She came to break barriers and make noise and live out loud. Really loud.

You may have heard her booming vocals on hit songs like Beyoncé’s black girl anthem, “Formation,” or Drake’s new summer single, “Nice for What,” but she’s way more than a disembodied voice on a track. She’s the reigning queen of New Orleans bounce music with hit songs of her own like “Excuse,” “Drop” and “Rent.”

And believe it or not, Queen Bey and Champagne Papi are just the tip of the iceberg for Big Freedia. With her EP “3rd Ward Bounce” dropping at the beginning of this month and her world tour kicking off soon, she’s just getting started.

Big Freedia has overcome violence, adversity and the tragic loss of her greatest cheerleaders and has proved she’s an unstoppable force of positivity and pride. She is on a mission to increase LGBTQ visibility, to challenge stereotypes about queer artists and to encourage everyone who hears her voice to live their best life and shake their ass while doing it.

Read more at HuffPost.com

[HuffPost] Are Black Americans Allowed In Wakanda?

Isabella Carapella/HuffPost

Isabella Carapella/HuffPost

Warning: This piece contains spoilers.

I didn’t like “Black Panther” at first. In fact, the first time I watched the movie, I left the theater pissed off and confused about my place in the world. But I soon came to realize (after three more viewings) that my discomfort was actually the whole point of the movie.

In the hype leading up to the premiere, I was promised a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon and I wasn’t entirely disappointed. I laughed at all the quippy one-liners. I lusted after Michael B(ae) Jordan and Chadwick “I Can Play Any Historical Figure” Boseman. I stanned for Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira and newcomer Letitia Wright. I danced in my seat to the Afrobeat. I gawked at the lush sets and beautiful costumes. And I marveled at the glorious fictional nation of Wakanda.

I actually went to sleep that night and dreamed of Wakanda, a utopia filled with natural beauty and technological advancements. I imagined myself as a warrior flying around in hover planes while rocking Kimoyo beads and all the other awesome tech from the movie while just being black and free.

But when I woke up, my excitement was extinguished by a sense of dread and disappointment. I know it’s not a real place, but if Wakanda were real, would its people actually let my black ass in? According to every Wakandan in this movie, not likely.

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That Time I Hated Rihanna But Loved Respectability Politics

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There are moments when I look back at my past self and I’m immediately filled with face-reddening, knee-buckling, I wish I could time travel just so I can go back and slap myself embarrassment.

Like that time when I threw up on a boy I liked in McDonalds. Or that time during freshman year when the tail of my skirt got caught in my bookbag and my ass was exposed as I walked across the busiest part of campus. Or that time during senior year when I threw up on a different boy I liked.

There was also a sad time in my life where I didn’t like Rihanna or her music. Forgive me. And brace yourself for a cringe-worthy story. *sighhhhh* Continue reading