By Ky Books: Hair Story Untangling The Roots of Black Hair In America

51+Vi4ukiYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I love Giuliana Rancic. I think she’s fun, she has an amazing journey to attaining the success she has today and she’s truly inspiring. I say this all to say that I was a little taken aback by her recent comments towards actress Zendaya. “Patchouli and weed”? Is that how black women who choose to wear their hair in ethnic styles are viewed by non-blacks? I can’t assume that her stereotypical comments are the beliefs of every non-black person, so I wont go there, but I was very impressed by Zendaya’s comeback. She took the high road and I know it’s always the people that take risks, who set the standard for future styles and fads (first they talk about you-then they copy you) so I am definitely not an advocate for the public scrutiny that Giuliana’s comments has exposed her to but I am not surprised. I know the importance of hair to black women and men. I’ve learned this even more so while reading “Hair Story: Untangling The Roots of Black Hair in America” by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps

Since our days in Africa, hair to blacks is our pride and form of expression. When we came over here on slave ships, one of the many ways we were dehumanized was by being denied the right and resources to groom ourselves, specifically our hair. As slaves in America, we had to find resources to maintain our tresses. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to carry on with the eccentric styles and braids that we wore in Africa. Some of our ancestors settled with plaits or a head tie. As times changed so did our hair. After slavery we wanted to fit in so figuring out ways to keep our hair straight was important to us. Once we realized a revolution was on a rise in the 60s and 70s we took pride in our kinks and started wearing it natural, no longer wanting to assimilate; we allowed our hair to send a message to the masses and it did. Black men and women take pride in their hair and this book, is one of my must reads. It allows you to go on a hair journey that doesn’t end with the last page of this book because our hair is constantly evolving.

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By Ky Books: The Blacker the Berry

The Blacker The Berry is a hard read. The harsh realities of Colorism exhibited throughout this book made my heart weak. Emma Lou was typecast as unattractive and some would go so far as to call her ugly because of her dark skin; her life was filled with struggles because of this. Her family was blue bloods. They created a chapter of the Blue Vein Society in their hometown. Back in the days, lighter skinned blacks deemed themselves blue blood or blue veiners if they were light enough to see the blue veins running through their body. Emma Lou came out with dark skin like her father, who left her mother and Emma Lou when she was a toddler. Her family, saw her father in Emma Lou and resented her.

Emma Lou believed she could escape from this familial scrutiny when she went to college. She was accepted into USC in California. The only problem with Emma Lou was that she internalized a lot of the negative words that her family said to her while growing up and projected her own self-hate on to other blacks, especially dark skinned, lower class ones.  She wanted to be accepted with the well-to-do blacks, but they weren’t accepting of her because of her color. Desperately searching for a place where she could belong, Emma Lou left USC and moved to Harlem. Yet, she soon learned no matter where she went, she could not escape the demons of her past.

Emma Lou allowed herself to be trapped by her skin color and by the lies she was taught growing up. She encountered terrible relationships, where men, especially Alva was ashamed of her because of her dark skin and rarely brought her around  friends on a social scale. One day after many ups and downs, Emma Lou grew tired of allowing her skin color to trap her. She ran from her color issues her whole life and it was finally time she accepted herself.

Her struggle resonated with me in so many ways. Sometimes, we allow the people who are supposed to protect us, to hurt us the most with their misguided perceptions, and thoughts, especially when it comes to standards of beauty and it affects our lives tremendously. Emma Lou allowed the harsh words of her family in her early years to affect the way she looked at herself and it traumatized her for years. Many people are struggling with this very issue, even in today’s society. Eurocentric standards of beauty does very little to empower black women. We have to break these shackles, by empowering ourselves, building confidence in who we are and disallowing society to tell us  how we should look. We have to reclaim our beauty.868440-1

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A Mother’s Love

I am one of those people who love, love. Since I could remember, I’ve been a sucker for love. Maybe it was the Disney movies, or maybe it’s a gift God birthed me with, but I couldn’t wait to be in love. Growing up, I was the girl that everyone liked, but I wasn’t “that girl” that all the guys were drooling over. I was quirky, a little awkward and quite different-which meant Valentines Day for me until age 15 was in existent.

Each year that would pass by leaving me without a valentine made me feel a bit empty. Can you imagine, even as a child I had these feelings of inadequacy. My mom eventually discovered this and surprised me every valentine’s day since I could remember with a gift. One year it was chocolates and Hello Kitty Pajamas (I still wear the Pajamas) another year it was a beautiful pink robe. She instilled in me that even if no one else acknowledged their love for me she loved me. I didn’t understand the value of this when I was younger. I just thought I was a loser who didn’t have a secret admirer but now I get it and I love her for it.

Happy Valentines Day!

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By Ky Books: The Bluest Eye

Long Blonde Hair. Blue Eyes. Pale Skin. Straight Nose. All traits of perfection in society. So imagine the emotional damage this type of standard of beauty can have on someone with opposite features. Short Kinky Hair. Brown Eyes. Dark Skin. Broad Nose. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, highlights the life of Pecola Breedlove. Pecola, like many of her black counterparts is on a journey to feel accepted in society. She believes that if she has blue eyes she would be beautiful and her parents would stop fighting. She escapes into her fantasy world to avoid the misery she is enduring in real life. She loves, borderline obsesses over Shirley Temple. At 11-years old, she’s plagued with insecurity and fed lies about her beauty.

Growing up, only a few generations removed from Slavery in a Jim Crow America, Pecola is deemed “ugly” even by the ones closest to her. She is traumatically raped at the hands of her own father while washing dishes and eventually goes crazy. This book is important for me to acknowledge during Black History Month because its theme resonates even today. Black Women and the double jeopardy we have in society-some would say as the mules of society weighs us down. Our unique beauty is disregarded as “unattractive” if not accompanied by eurocentric traits and for so long our people have been told we are not good enough, our features are not beautiful enough and that we are at some kind of disposition because of the color of our skin; that’s just completely false.

Once again, the secrets of our dark past is exposed. Not knowing how to deal with our position in society as black women and men, we turn against our own in an effort to make us feel better. I read this book twice. It was, in all honesty, traumatizing but so necessary to understand and fully grasp. There are so many Pecola’s in this world. Many of us including myself, have been judged by superficial traits that we cannot change because it’s not “white” enough. It’s unfortunate that in modern times, these issues still plague African Americans. How can we enforce change if we don’t deem our blackness as a statement of endearment and not a source of shame?

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You Are Worthy To Be Praised!

I found the original recording to my favorite song ever. I heard it for the first time last year when I started attending Tuesday night prayer meetings at my church, The Brooklyn Tabernacle. A warmth came over me. I couldn’t help but to cry and lift my hands up high. Feelings of unworthiness overcame me. My knees slowly dropped to the floor.

You are Alpha and Omega

We worship you our lord

You are worthy to be praised

We give you All the Glory

Just four simple lines to a hymn changed my life. My whole walk with Christ was reformed because of the anointing on this song. He loves us so much. I felt reassured watching others in this video with the same reaction as I have when hearing this; Uncontrollable tears. There’s something about this record. Not even Israel Houghton could get through his own song. Now you know there’s power in it. I give God all the glory; He saved me. He loves me.

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Asceticism

It’s been a year since I got baptized and the process has not been easy. I got baptized partially because I knew it was something I had to do to remain active in my church but also because I was ready to proclaim my relationship with Jesus Christ publicly. I was afraid. A part of me felt pressured. I wasn’t ready to give up certain pleasures and behaviors. I didn’t know how to be the “perfect” Christian. The fact that I would think I had to become the perfect Christian once baptized is proof of my ignorance about its significance.

Yet after classes and interviews to make sure that I was ready, the day came; it was time. I felt the presence of God during my baptism ceremony. An overwhelming warmth and burst of tears solidified he was there with me. Even before getting dunked in the water, I knew at that moment my past was forgiven and it has never haunted me again.

Yet, after my baptism the tests and trials began. Everything that I have ever stood for came to a halt this year. I gave up on myself and gave myself up. I became weak. I became lonely. I gave into temptation time and time again despite the feelings of conviction I had. I didn’t know who I was becoming. I was a functioning wreck without self-control. I no longer knew how to defend my beliefs because I was confused myself. What did I believe in? Was I still an advocate for celibacy? Did I believe in saving yourself before marriage or did I only believe it because someone told me I should? I began talking to old boyfriends. Boyfriends I clearly left in the past because their beliefs did not align with my own. I resented singlehood. I began to feel lonely and unworthy of a relationship. I let thoughts plague my head about being alone and a spinster forever. I gossiped. Loved celebrity gossip too much and reveled in the latest “tea.” I had no self-control; no inhibitions. I did things in the dark hoping it wouldn’t come to light. I lied, and told myself it was for the other persons own good. I was far from the perfect Christian. I struggled more after my baptism than I’d ever did in my whole walk with Christ. I was a sinner. I am a sinner.

I’m not perfect. I believe we sometimes go through these things to have an amazing story to tell that would one day inspire others. I am thinking I went through these things to share with believers that it’s not easy. The more you step forward in the light, the more the devil tries to bring you back into the dark. The closer I got to God the further I was from him.

Asceticism is the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. This is my overall goal in year 2. I want to practice self-disciple and techniques in defeating the devil when prompted to give into desires and temptations. However, there are other compartments in life that can teach lessons on self-control and I want to build on that as well:

First I will start with food. I come from the school of thought where we only have one life to live, so why deprive yourself of good food. Yet, as satisfying as this mentality may be, I have no self-control. I eat brownies in the morning and dinner after 10PM. If I create some sort of control in my eating habits, it will resonate with me spiritually as well.

Secondly, waking up in the morning. I am a snoozer. I will set the alarm for 6:45AM and will not get out of bed until 7:45AM. I need to start waking up when the alarm goes off no excuses.

Lastly, I want to practice self-discipline with the amount of time I spend with God. Sometimes we let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way with our relationship with God and that’s unacceptable. If I know I can’t go to bed without reading the word, marinating on his blessings and teachings and saying a prayer then I will carve out the time to spend with him. No excuses.

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EnVision & Sip

Every year, I try to throw a shindig that gets all my friends together under one roof. Sometimes we get so distracted by every day life that we forget the importance of maintaining relationships. Last year was a happy hour, the year before was a dinner party and this year was my vision board party. On Saturday I gathered a few of my friends for Envision and Sip. It was such a positive afternoon filled with laughs, great food and collaging. The highlight of the night was when each of us revealed our vision board and explained the trajectories in life we would like to take. We learned from one another, we were able to be vulnerable, and transparent. I hope this event changed the lives of my attendees because mine sure was changed. I now have 10-people holding me accountable for the goals I spoke into existence that day.

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IMG_9382 Continue reading “EnVision & Sip”

How to Plan a Vision Board Party

IMG_9869So you want to plan a vision board party. Well, as someone who just hosted a very successful one, I’ll explain how. It’s rather simple and it was an idea that came about randomly. I knew it wouldn’t take much thought to put together and it would be a fun excuse to bring close friends together for an afternoon of fellowship and fun.

Google Docs

I am going to start this post off with a tip. Google Docs is the best. I used google docs to plan out my party and create a contact list for attendees.

Invite list

Unless you have the space, its important not to invite too many people since this is a huge arts and crafts task that requires time and space. Also since a vision board party outlines someone’s inner most desires for their present and future be mindful of who you invite and make sure everyone is encouraging to one another.

Invitation

Figure out a date, time and location. I sent all my invites via e-vite. I found a cute template and the rest was history. Most importantly, my invitations didn’t cost a dime and I was able to keep track of who viewed the invitation and rsvps.

The invite encouraged people to answer the following questions:

  1. What is my vision for my life?
  2. What are my dreams?
  3. What do I need to do to achieve my dreams?
  4. How much of my past is shaping the way I think and what I do? Is it effecting my present and future?

I also encouraged people to bring their own magazines. Continue reading “How to Plan a Vision Board Party”

How to Make a Vision Board

In a previous post I touched on the idea of Virtualization . Now I want to put virtualization into effect with vision boards. Creating vision boards is nothing new to me. I used to do this throughout college and even won an excellence in communication award for representing ageism and race in a collage (but that’s neither here nor there).

What you need to create a vision board is simple:

  • Magazines, which I am sure many of us have those at our disposal
  • Poster Board which you can get for about $1 or less
  • Glue and Scissors

IMG_9846You can spend about 30-minutes to 1-hour looking through magazines. I love to find great words and titles for my vision board. I am always on the search for words like Strength, Freedom, Woman, Travel etc. I also love abstract and strikingly beautiful pictures. Colorful, bright and inspiring. I rip everything that is aesthetically pleasing to me and I put them in a section. Continue reading “How to Make a Vision Board”

Relationship Weight

I tried on a pair of jeans that used to be big for me in the summer. They’re boyfriend jeans, which tend to be baggy. I got the jeans on one leg, and then the other but pulling them past my thighs was a problem. They no longer fit me! I gained weight. My friend coined it relationship weight. Sometimes when you embark on a new relationship, you gain unnecessary weight and I have all the signs and symptoms of getting too comfortable and picking up unhealthy eating habits.

Sign #1-I canceled my Gym Membership

Relationship or not, I would’ve canceled my gym membership because I don’t particularly like going to the gym in the winter; I don’t like when the brisk air hits you while walking out of the gym all hot and sweaty, it’s a terrible mixture of temperatures. I would much rather be cuddled up in my blanket watching reruns of “Living Single.” However, I do spend a lot more time with my significant other, which takes away from the time I could be at a gym so there you have it, faux pas number one.

Sign #2-Date More. Eat More.

It seems like when you’re in a relationship all you guys do is eat. You go on dates and eat, you spend the night in and eat. I’ve never eaten so much take-out in my life.

Sign #3 Comfort & Compliments

The compliments from my boyfriend are endless, and no I don’t get tired of them. His acknowledgement of my beauty makes me feel great but I’ve gotten too comfortable. He may “love me the way I am” but it’s never a good idea to lose self-control because of the validation you are getting from someone else.

The first step is acknowledging that I have a problem. I came to this conclusion last week when I ate 3-cartons of Ben and Jerry Red Velvet Ice Cream without a care in the world. I am losing self-control and I know it, but I will bounce back. Being healthy is so important, and I have to find ways to remain healthy while in a relationship or else…

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