Relaxed Hair I Don’t Care

Some of you may not fully appreciate this but read on anyway. In the African American/black community there has been a trend occurring for several years. I’m not sure when, where or why it started and frankly Scarlette… What I do know is it has become another reason to divide my already divided people. This migration, this movement, this trend, this evolution is all about hair. This is an excellent moment to gasp or scratch your head or even touch your own hair to appreciate the texture. 

It’s not anything new. Back in the day when James Brown proudly proclaimed, “I’m black and I’m proud” hot comb sales drastically decreased. Those who were down started proudly sporting their Afros. That lasted for a while then somebody decided, after an embarrassing stage of the Jeri curl, that it was okay to have straight hair again. Some went back to the hot comb and others went to the relaxer. 

Well, several years ago, someone decided that chemicals from relaxers were not healthy and that person started a movement to natural hair. It didn’t catch on immediately. But slowly more and more people turned from the creamy crack to natural is back. I’ve watched each of my friends go through the growing out phases. I’ve endured, entertained and glazed over the conversations with each person as they shared with me the benefits of natural hair and the detriments of using chemicals on my hair. Some where more militant in their approach as others presented it as something fun we could do together. Let’s grow our hair out and bond over creams, gels, and hot oil treatments. I’ve learned to smile politely as I declined the thoughtful offer. I like my hair relaxed. 

The reaction to my soft rebuttal is usually more coercion. At times I’ve wondered if there was a commission given on the number of people they could convert. Was this a multilevel marketing effort from the makers of natural hair care products?

Speaking of products, each person has different texture of hair. Finding the conditioner, shampoo or moisturizer that works for your hair is like trying to locate the Holy Grail. I know because I have four naturally curly haired children and we still haven’t found “the one” for them. It’s can be an expensive and and sometimes lengthy process. Shout out to Madam CJ Walker for showing us a better way to care for our hair. 

May I pause for a moment and go down a rabbit trail? Thanks. In this movement to become natural I have noticed that that quite a few people are still coloring, straightening, weaving, braiding, and wigging their hair. You would think that’s a violation in the code book of natural hair. But since I’m not in the club and I didn’t receive the list dos and don’ts. Just wondering. I guess the chemicals from hair coloring are not as harsh or detrimental to the hair. I suppose damage that weaves, braids and wigs do to the edges aren’t that bad either. Shrug. Okay. 

Where was I? Choices. I made the choice to keep relaxing my hair. I like it this way. You would think in this day and age that it’s okay for people to wear their hair in which ever style or fashion they choose. What we have learned over and over again is whenever people are divided insults abound. The YouTube videos, memes, and snarky comments are abundant. It’s hair people. It’s just hair. Why do you care? Why are we distracted and divided over such a minor issue? Get a cause. Get a life. 

Am I the only one who thinks of the Good and Bad hair song from Spike Lee’s movie School Daze? Only substitute natural and relaxed hair.

I can’t believe with all the things going on in the world we continue to allow menial things distract us from the important things. 

Whether your hair is natural, relaxed, braided, wigged, colored, twisted, locked, curled, shaved or some other style embrace that as well as the hair choices of others. 

After all, it’s just hair. 

Give Thanks

Today I am thankful for you. You survived another day or night. You chose life or life chose you. You opened your home or decided to travel to someone else’s to share this day and moment with someone else. I’m thankful that you are serving those without food to eat. I’m thankful there is food for you to eat. I’m thankful that the struggle hasn’t taken you out. I’m thankful you have overcome the struggle. Im thankful for those who give and for those who receive. I’m thankful for those who are surrounded by love even if that love is eminating from within. I’m thankful that you escaped or have a plan or have a dream to leave. Im thankful that you stayed and everything is working out. I’m thankful for your new relationships as well as your tried and true ones. I’m thankful you found a place to lay your head. I’m thankful for the company you started, the employees you hired and for the economic difference you will make. I’m thankful you accepted the job, quit your job or sent another resume. I’m thankful that you still have a glimmer of hope in the midst of despair. I’m thankful your life is overflowing with favor. I’m thankful for my children, family, friends, coworker’s and you who stopped by to read my blog. My thankfulness extends beyond today. I was thankful for you yesterday and will be thankful for you tomorrow. Virtual hugs, pat on the back or just a warm smile to you.

I Am My Mother’s Child

There is nothing that brings you to the reality of your life like a court ordered social study. If you read March 5, 2014 then you know that the ex husband decided to have me served. Somewhere along the way he decided he wanted 50/50 custody of the kids.

He remarried about three years ago. He moved into her house with her and her two children. No big deal right? Her house is 23 miles away from my house. The same house I intentionally selected because it was less than 7 miles from his door to my door. My goals in selecting a house were a good school district, a sense of community and not far from their dad. I never wanted him to feel like his children were to far away. But then he moved. Our youngest were attending a charter school that was in another city  about five miles from my house. I made the decision to move them to the zoned school in our district. He was not happy about my choice and he said I was moving them further from him so he hired an attorney and I was served.

Back to the social study. After several months of court dates, attorney’s fees and tension between us the judge ordered a social study as requested by the ex.

A social study is conducted by a social worker. They have you fill out pages and pages of documents listing everything that has happened in your life. It’s your autobiography. This document is scrutinized and judged by the social worker. They come to your house and interview everybody who lives there. They walk through your home taking notes on everything from the items on your refrigerator, safety of the neighborhood and overall opinion of your home. The social worker also interviews friend, doctors, teachers and family members.

The document… Geez… The document. It took me several days to fill out the document. For me, it was the equivalent of standing naked in front of strangers who had magnifying glasses and were intent on viewing every flaw. It was hard. As I said it was an autobiography of my life. The questions were invasive and at times difficult for me to answer. You see, I am like many of you, I have tucked the disappointments and heartaches of my childhood away in a place that I don’t like to visit. But here in this document I was asked about things I don’t like to discuss with close friends let alone a stranger.  But I answered honestly.

After a few weeks I received the results of the social study. This was the document she would present to the judge. The judge would use this document to assist with his final ruling. As I read her report I cried. I cried because here was a stranger summarizing my life in a 15-20 page document.

My life  started out as a potentially tragic story. I was born the youngest of three. My mother was about 21 when I was born and had birthed a total of three children in less than four years. She was the true definition of a single mom. My father was around but he wasn’t present. My mother worked very hard to provide for us but she wasn’t home with us. I was molested as a child. I started drinking as a teenager and drugs, although I did not partake, were readily available.

I continued to cry as I read the document. My ex husband’s life looks wonderful on paper. He grew up in a two parent household. He has one brother and they had a dog. His mom stayed home for the most part and his father was an engineer. He was raised in a Christian home. He and his new wife both had stellar up bringing. They are the ideal American family when you read about them. As I continued to read and cry, I was sure I had lost. How and why would anybody in their right mind select me over them? As I reached the last couple of pages I realized I had been holding my breathe. There were about ten numbered items. These were the things the judge wanted to know. This was her final assessment. This would affect the decision of the court

Why is this article titled as it is? Because after reading her summary of my life I went back and rewrote my life story. I needed to add in the side notes and I needed to understand my life from the view point of a young twenty something raising three kids on her own. I needed perspective. I needed to understand that the social worker’s summary was not the final say on my life. Through tears and fears I read my life story to three friends of mine. I felt the need to say the words out loud. In front of people who love me. We are often judged by our past. We judge others based upon their past. But I realized that I’m more than my childhood. Like my mother, I am an overcomer. Our stories don’t read the same but the common thread is do the best you can and overcome obstacles.

The social worker’s assessment was in my favor. My children are still with me the majority of the time and I changed their schools. I don’t hold a grudge with the ex.

Write your own story. Statistics and opinions do not have the final say. Write your own story and release  hope. I rewrote mine and am confidant when I say I’m an overcomer and my mother’s child.

I’m Better Than That

This is Random Chic.

She may not have been born by the river but she’s cried a river of tears. 

She didn’t create laughter but she loves it like its her own. 

She did not give birth to love but she unconditionally loves the four she gave birth to.

She is who she is today but not who she was yesterday. 

(It’s not G like most of my postings. There is one word)

I hope you enjoy.

Empowerment

Empowerment- to give power, authority; increasing the capacity to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions

I left the house late. I decided to make a full breakfast for the kids before leaving at 5:30 am to head to the gym. I was running about 15 minutes behind but decided a 30 minute cardio workout would start my day off right. I pulled up to the gym and realized I did not have have my work clothes. I left them sitting on my bed. At this point it was 6:00 am. I had to make a quick decision to go home and change clothes and be late for work or go to the one store that I have sworn off because of their lack of customer service. I chose the latter. Traffic and construction make drive times unpredictable and I needed to meet a vendor between 7:30 and 8:00 am. I could not risk being late.

I headed over to that store. The one that I set a goal to not walk into this year. I have had so many bad experiences at Wal-Mart that I swore them off for good or so I had hoped. But sometimes life happens and you have to make decisions that you don’t prefer. I could go into the many reasons why I am determined to end my relationship with them but do you really want to hear about the Valentine’s day when I went into the store and requested to get some balloons blown up only for them to tell me the one person who knew how to use the helium tank would not arrive to work until after 9am? On Valentine’s day? I know you don’t want to hear about the time I was talking to a customer service rep on the phone. I was trying to clarify whether or not they would ship a gift to my nephew who was living in Guam at the time. I asked if they used USPS and she said no, we use the Unites States Post Office. I could also mention the rude employees but I won’t go into that right now.

I picked out two shirts and two pair of pants to try on. I walked over to the dressing room because I have to try on clothes. Everything does not fit me the same. When I arrived to the dressing room I see benches blocking the entry so I tell and employee I need a dressing room. She proceeds to tell me the dressing rooms are closed and do not open until 7 am. Well, that creates a real dilemma. I have to be at work by 7 am. I explain my predicament to this employee who reiterates, the rooms are closed until 7 am but I am more than welcome to wait (40 minutes). Now I am put out. This is why I promised myself that I would never come back to this store. The employees are not empowered to make good decisions that will allow them to make sound customer oriented choices. I request a manager. Seven minutes later, the store manager has not shown up so I ask if I can go to her. A young guy wearing a badge that says Customer Service Manager is walking past. I stepped in front of him, explained my situation and behold, he decided to help me by unlocking a door.

You see, every business has policies however, the policy should not hinder the employee from being empowered. Employees who are empowered to make some decisions are more content employees. They also provide better customer service. I am not sure why a 24/7 store closes their dressing rooms and drills into their employees heads the rooms are not available under any circumstance to a customer no matter how dire the need. It’s bad business. It’s questionable management and it leaves employees discontent in the long run when the policies take over and leave the employees fearful of consequences rather than customer focused.

Give me a break Wal-Mart. In the 30 minutes I was in your store I experience one very rude employee and three others who need to become empowered. The rude lady kept mumbling to no one in particular the dressing rooms don’t open until 7. I spoke to her directly at one point and said sometimes we make exceptions to provide a great customer service experience. The other three asked how they could help but at the point I was waiting on the no show manager.

After today, I am more determined than ever to not give them my money.

Why I am still black

The term Afican American has been around for quite a while. I have never used it consistently to describe myself and definitely not my children. I have some friends who are staunch users of the term to describe themselves. I find it amusing to have conversations with people who say African American while I say black. I am sure they are wondering why I am not progressive and will not use the term they prefer. But I refuse. I’m sure they have wondered why I’m not conforming and why I will not follow along with their part of of the herd. 

One of the things I tell my children is do not use words or phrases if  you don’t know the definition. For me, I didn’t know the origin or the reasoning behind the change from black to African American. I prefer not to identify as either, it’s obvious when you see me why do I need a label? If you are going to label me as anything how about child of God? 

I have questions. When the term is used, which America is being referenced? Is South America included? What about Canada? Is the term solely for certain people living in the United States and if so, why?

A year ago I decided to do a little research on the Internet to determine the origins of the phrase. There are a few different versions of how the term came to be. One is attributed to a poem (I Can) written by Johnny Duncan. Jessie Jackson says he is responsible for the migration to African American. Did you know that there is or was a dividing line drawn to determine who the term references? There is the school of thought that the only people who should use the term are people whose ancestors were slaves. Hhhmmmm… Leaders in the black community wanted to differentiate between descendants of African slaves and everybody else. The term black encompasses everybody, whether you want the label or not. Granted, black is based upon your skin tone or somebody’s perception. Did you know that President Obama is not the first African American president, according to popular definitions? Just take a moment and let that soak in. His father is from Kenya and his mother, while American, is not a descendent of slaves. How nonsensical. How divisive. To my friends who were frustrated with me for not conforming, how you like me now?!? 

I refuse to accept a label that, according to some, does the very thing I don’t personally embrace. I don’t like creating division or putting people in boxes

Don’t we know by now that if there is a movement of some sort then it is going to financially / politically benefit someone? Why was there a shift? What was the long term plan? There is always an agenda. 

At the beginning and end of the day I would rather be referred to as my given name but if I must self identify I choose black.  

Are you hormonal?

How often are hormones blamed for a woman’s “attitudes”? How often do others mutter under their breathe, “she must be hormonal”? Depending on the stage of life our moods are attributed to PMS or the various stages of menopause. 

How often are men approach and asked if they’re hormonal? How often do you walk away from a conversation with them thinking, I’ll just avoid him for the next couple of days until the coast is clear? Never?!?! 

When a friend of mine decided we needed to have a heart to heart in which she danced around my new found freedom to speak my mind, her questions came back to, are you hormonally balanced? As I rolled my eyes and threw out some random justifications I reviewed the last five years of my life.

Divorced
Began working full-time after 10 years of being a stay at home mom
Moved twice
A year long custody battle
Incurred legal fees out of the wazoo
Although I’ve been working for the same company for five years I am in my third department
I have four active kids
Attended grad school for two years
I have a teenaged son (enough said)
My ex has been unemployed for about two of those five years (no financial support during that time)
I made some commitments to myself to become a better leader, mom and eventually partner. You see, I typically avoid confrontation but a few years ago I decided to stand my ground and express my opinions.

The answer to the question is maybe but why is that the first thing that comes to mind rather than reviewing my circumstances or just patting me on the back and saying, “congratulations on your personal growth and for not only surviving the last five years but excelling in school as well as work and coparenting four amazing children who are well rounded, funny, and intelligent, all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being a great friend to many”? 

I still wonder if I were a man would we have had the conversation at all?