Friday, June 22, 2012

What My Father Taught Me

June marks Father's Day, Loving Day, Juneteenth, and my dad's birthday. All of these special days remind me of my father, who passed away eleven years ago at the age of 71. Just like everyone, my father had demons, challenges, and setbacks. What he also had was an innate awareness of human interactions and a philosophical depth always two steps beyond his years. He was also wise, proud, stubborn, and loved his little girl to pieces.

Here, in no particular order, is what my father taught me:

1. Make copies of everything.

While this advice may be pretty obvious, it's served me well over the years. I make copies of all documents and forms before sending them to their recipients. If I need my tax information from 7 years ago or a bill from 7 months ago, I know just where to look.

2. It's better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

I remind myself of this favorite line of his whenever I question whether to grab my coat, sweater, scarf, etc., before I head out the door.

3. Follow politics.

My dad knew everything -- or at least it seemed that way to me. He read law books and studied history and watched the news. He knew that I, as a black female, would be affected by politics, and that knowledge is the best weapon a person can have.

4. Don't drink the Kool Aid.

My dad knew ahead of time that Jim Jones was going to do something horrible both to and with his cult followers. He has taught me to question everything, no matter how innocuous it might seem to be.

5. Blacks should support gay rights just as much as they supported the Civil Rights movement.

In 1993, a gay student at my California high school wasn't allowed to bring his partner to the school dance without a fight; but my dad already understood that his own gay neighbors should be awarded the same respect that blacks had struggled to obtain in the 60s.

6. Have no regrets.

I could tell my father had regrets as he lay dying. The most important thing he's taught me is to have confidence, fight for what I believe in, and never take a single day for granted. Dad, this one's for you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You Know You Have Black Natural Hair When...

1. Your extra-strength hair bands don't last long.

2. You have a sweatshirt just for wearing while you comb out your hair.

3. You don't wash your hair for a date.

4. The longer you go before washing it again, the healthier it is.
Photo courtesy of

5. Strangers respond to your hair as if it were a cute baby or a puppy.

6. When you book your stylist appointment you make sure she sets aside 3 hours just for you.

7. Your stylist often needs backup in order to get through your 3-hour appointment on time.

8. You laugh when your non-black female friend hands you her wire hairbrush.

9. You wouldn't need a wig to be Marge Simpson for Halloween.

10. Your hair works in the ratio of miles to inches: Miles of straight = inches of curly.

11. Your nightly twists take a full episode of [insert your favorite TV show here].

12. Caps and hats often don't fit your head.

13. An earring can get lost in your hair for hours before falling on the kitchen floor.

14. Your black friends insist that if they went natural their hair would never look like yours.

15. When your black friends do go natural it's like coming out of the closet -- liberating and tremendously exciting.

16. You have a facebook album dedicated solely to your natural hair journey, and this album gets the most responses.

17. You would consider spending $200 for an Ouidad cut.

18. You and female strangers bond over your mutual "awkward childhood afro phase" and "chemically-treated singed straight hair phase."

19. You wish Michelle Obama would go natural but understand why she can't.

20. You wouldn't have your hair any other way.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Elizabeth Smart and Trayvon Martin are 21st Century America's Children

America has a new national child: Trayvon Martin.

Photo courtesy of
In 2002, sentiment over the Elizabeth Smart case reached a fever pitch during her abduction, which led to national representatives and countrymen alike viewing her not just one family's daughter, but America's daughter. The beautifully angelic Elizabeth stood as a symbol for all we needed to protect, and as an academic who's written about her case, I'm delighted about her upcoming wedding.

Trayvon's unnecessary death by homicide is the first national event surrounding the victimization of a child to gain so much media attention since Elizabeth's. Present Barack Obama has linked Trayvon to America in much the same way Elizabeth was when he says, "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon."

Photo courtesy of

 While both Elizabeth and Trayvon's experiences were tragic, I find comfort in knowing that Trayvon is receiving as much media attention as Elizabeth did. As a biracial American, Elizabeth resembles my own blonde sister and Trayvon looks just like a cousin I played with when I was young.

Almost exactly ten years after Elizabeth's abduction, we have a black president stating that his son would look like Trayvon, in much the same way former president Bush's daughter would look like Elizabeth.

While I can't speak for Elizabeth Smart, I'm sure she feels for Trayvon and, like much of the rest of America, wishes his unfortunate death can somehow change the national perception of what it means to be an American and the protection of life and liberty that each American deserves.

More Naturally Kinky Curly Hair Sightings

Sure, I'll admit it: Sometimes I read eHarmony advice columns. While I'm often disappointed in the quality of their articles, this one left me refreshed--both in content and in images. The very last page of the article, entitled "Ladies: What Men Think About Your Body," reinforced the notion that self-confidence and attitude are the biggest physical attributes a woman can possess. And what was the physical representation of this attribute? A woman my age sporting my exact hair--texture, color and all. (Not to mention the lavender shirt!) Finally, a sexiness I can truly get behind.