beauty

black girl sabbaticals

i’ve been in a season of self-care. after making a conscious decision to stop normalizing anxiety and stress, i’m seeking a simpler life — one that’s judged by the quality of my experiences, not the quantity of my possessions. thankfully, i’m not doing the work of re-evaluting my position in the american rat race alone — sisters of the yam by bell hooks has been my bible and sister’s circle dc has become my congregation.

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hannah magazine: a celebration of black women

let’s be honest. popular beauty magazines weren’t made for women of color. needles have been found in haystacks sooner than locating independent fashion and beauty sources designed for and by black women. but now we’ve been blessed with hannah magazine — let the flyest of our ancestors shout for glory.

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hannah is a delicious biannual print book created by qimmah saafir (pictured in the black top above). just scrolling through the images online made my heart skip a beat. qimmah and her crew are filling a visual void for sisters, and i couldn’t be prouder. hannah2 hannah1the best part: hannah covers socio political issues too. one time for politics and fashion. now that the magazine has been crowd sourced, stay tuned for the print book’s release date.  we see you hannah.

all pics via hannah magazine.

the politics of being transracial & light skinned #racheltaughtus

RDat first, i laughed at rachel dolezal.  i’ve witnessed blackness get colonized so many times until i immediately found her blackface antics more pathetic than anything. however, after she sat down for an interview with melissa harris perry and refused to answer any question directly, i’d had enough — my giggles and indifference turned to anger.

what disturbs me about dolezal’s actions is not only the performative aspect of her self-proclaimed black identity or the hate crimes that some say she falsely claimed to be the recipient of, but the fact that she conveniently left one privileged position for another.  when presenting as a white woman she leveraged the resources attributed to her whiteness, and as a lightskinned black women, she could leverage the resources attributed to having light skin. whether it was the race or gender hierarchy, dolezal always found herself on top.

for dark-skinned people of color, passing is not an option.  race marginalizes us the easiest, acting as the visible embodiment of past and present oppression.  beyond skin color is the complicated history around our hair — black women’s beauty has been tied to the tightnRachel_Dolezal_zpswhmev7y4ess of our curls since slavery. dolezal never had an authentic experience with this very painful narrative, yet told melissa harris perry that her hair journey has been “interesting,” claiming:

it also felt like an affirmation of black is beautiful, you know? because for so many centuries, you know, there’s been … the relaxers and the long weaves and the skin bleaching and all that fallout of psychological disorientation and certainly trauma came.

as if adorning her hair like a black woman’s is a tribute to blackness, she even claimed to have become a hairstylist to help black children feel beautiful. guess what rachel, we don’t need you to pretend to be black to make women who were born black feel better about their blackness. that’s called cultural appropriation, and it actually has the opposite effect.

in fact, dolezal’s egotistical analysis around her hair, adopting her younger siblings and activism have all given the white savior complex a new meaning.

whether led by curiosity, adoration or bad intentions, rachel dolezal made a conscious decision to maneuver through spaces focused on black empowerment as a lightskinned black woman. the privilege to choose not only one’s race, but color is power that most racial minorities will never experience. in the face of constant white terror and efforts to democratize standards of beauty, her blackface performance is not only exploitative, it’s despicable.

crush of the week: danielle from love 416

dani1we love dani because her blog, personal style and eye for interior decor are fresh. not fresh like fly (although she most certainly is), but fresh like walking through a farmer’s market with a breeze on your back. she’s simply lovely.

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check out her blog and youtube channel for delicious inspiration.

5 tips for blowing out natural hair

Protectini woke up one fateful sunday in 2014 and decided i wanted straight hair. while the creamy crack wasn’t calling my name, i had a serious urge to measure the length of my newly grown high top and just the tools to get the job done — so i thought. after blow drying and flat ironing my hair, without a heat protectant of any sort, it was certainly straight.  and it stayed that way.  i tried every trick of the trade and my natural locks just wouldn’t revert back.  i’d ruined my hair’s texture and felt the natural hair gatekeepers mocking my straggly strands. crushed, i cut my hair low a few weeks later.

soooooo, what in the hell would possess me to try another blow out? it’s spring, duh.  the change of season, urges a new ‘do, and i felt compelled again to rock straight hair. however, this time, i consulted a professional and my curls bounced back with these tips in mind:

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5 reasons why #blackoutday won

alphablack folks took to the internet yesterday to remind ourselves and the world just what beauty looks like.  from different hues, genders, sexual orientations and physical abilities, our melanin shut social media down. here are five reasons why unapologetically black spaces like #blackoutday are important:

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black women’s scalps matter

DSC_0064 1i’m still traumatized from the ceramic flat iron event of 2014 when i damaged my hair in a straightening incident gone bad. so you can imagine my excitement when i realized my hair had grown long enough for two strand twists. a pat on the back and a few shea moisture products should have been enough to celebrate my accomplishment, but noooo i decided box braids were the perfect turn up to salute a 1.5 inch twa.

like most black women, i grew up getting braids; in fact, i have lots of memories from childhood and early adolescence picking out $.99 packs of hair and spending hours at a cousin’s/family friend’s/aunt’s home getting my hair braided.  time-consuming and painful, the results were usually “worth” it — women learn early that beauty requires the sacrifice of comfort.  however, as i became older and developed greater agency over my body, i decided both long hair and extensions weren’t my jam, choosing to rock short hair (even a caesar cut in 10th grade). by my early 20s, i went natural and changed my entire beauty paradigm. so i thought.

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