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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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    The McClure twins with mom Ami
    By Mwabi Kaira

    Ami and Justin McClure rose to YouTube fame when a video of their adorable twin girls Ava and Alexis went viral in 2016. Their family has recently expanded with the addition of son Jersey. Ava and Lexi have become little superstars appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres show and walking on fashion runways and their parents are behind the girls popular YouTube channel - McClure Twins Family documenting their family life as they grow up.

    In a recent vlog, Ami talked about how she is tired of this climate of hair shaming. Commenters leave messages on their videos about Ami fixing her daughter’s natural hair but wearing wigs. They have issues with it, saying, "how can you teach your girls about hair and you don’t love yours,” when that couldn't be further from the truth...

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    The McClure Family
    Both pregnancies were not kind to her body, she had hyperemesis gravidarum which is a morning sickness so severe with symptoms that can include severe nausea and feeling faint or dizzy when standing. It can also cause persistent vomiting, which can lead to dehydration. This condition can require hospitalization and treatment with IV fluids and anti-nausea medications.

    Ami got her nutrients through a picc line (catheter) for the first 6 months of her pregnancy with her twin girls and lost 21 pounds. Her body was completely depleted of all nutrients. Her eyelashes fell out, her fingernails were non-existent and her hair was not the healthy hair she had pre-pregnancy. She went through a similar experience during her pregnancy with her son Jersey.

    Ami's hair pre-pregnancy 
    Before and after Ami's shave 
    Even though Ami’s hair is growing back, she doesn’t like how it is coming in, especially her edges. Justin shaves Ami’s hair off in the vlog because Ami wants to start afresh. 

    After the cut, Ami talks to Ava and Lexi and teaches them a valuable lesson. She tells them, 
    “Hair is not everything. I hope you take care of your hair so that you have healthy hair, but hair is not everything. Hair doesn’t make you a person and what makes you a person is who you are.” 
    She then reveals her new shaven head to the girls who think her new haircut is awesome.


    Ami had a beautiful age appropriate conversation with her girls and we applaud her for it. Hair is simply an extension of us all and there are far too many stories of girls growing up to be women with hair hang ups because much of their self-worth is tied to their hair. Ami chose to share her personal story because she felt it was important and hopes it will not only help her daughters, but help women everywhere to remember that they are not their hair.

    Watch Ami's transformation as well as the sweet conversation with her girls!

    *************

    What do you think? Does Ami look like a total baddass? Should women stop wig-shaming other women for their hair choices?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com

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    Jaisaan Lovett
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    You work harder than you've ever worked in your young life, staying home to study while your friends are out doing things that kids do, and it pays off. You become the first African American valedictorian of your high school school and it's time to give an acceptance speech. Because you know it's all about that speech, thanking those who helped make it happen, dropping those gems...only this part doesn't happen because of run-ins that you've had with the principal in the past. So you're barred from speaking at graduation. I wish this were a made-up story, but it happened to Jaisann Lovett of University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York. While his principal- Joseph Munno, who didn't give Jaisann or his family a reason for not allowing him to speak- tried to get the last word, it was Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren who stepped in and gave Jaisaan an opportunity to have his big moment...and luckily we get to see it!

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    This is just one more reason that we need to vote African American women into political office. If not for Mayor Warren we might not know of this young man's story, and we would be denied the opportunity to share in his HUGE accomplishment. And let it be noted that Jaisaan has received a full scholarship to Clark Atlanta University, and his older brother who graduated last year, with honors, has a full scholarship to Morehouse College.

    Booooyah!

    We're definitely going to keep track of this family because they are the future leaders of America. Congrats to Jaisann and his fam, and please folks, share this video, let's let some of this goody-goodness rub off on all of us!

    Mayor Lovely Warren gives an introduction speech and Jaisaan's speech begins at 2:30.

    What do you think about this story? Is success the best revenge? 
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    As the mother of two young African American girls, I’ve been thinking about homeschool for a while. There’s been this knowing inside of me that I can’t let my kids continue to be taught in a school system that was never set up for them in the first place. I mean, we had to fight to be integrated into America’s school system so what makes us think that they would teach from any other perspective than that of a white European? Then there are the undeniable signs from the outside that keep coming. Like, discovering just recently that the most revered children’s book author in American history, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, who is celebrated for a full week every single year in public school, was nothing more than a racist who regularly depicted Blacks and Japanese Americans as “savages.” Many credit his vicious attacks against the Japanese during World War II with helping lead to their eventual mass incarceration. I had the same sinking feeling when I found out that the Indian leader that I had been taught to idolize as a child, one Mahatma Gandhi, was no better. He constantly described Africans as “savages” in his writing and campaigned relentlessly to the British ruling class in S. Africa for the better treatment of Indians. Then there’s our new Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, who could single handedly undermine all progress in education for everybody. So what am I waiting for?

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    Well, like many moms, I have questions because taking control of my children’s education is kind of a big deal. The good news is, there are many African American moms who are homeschooling and thriving. Recently, I caught up with a few who were willing to share their experience.

    Meet Keisha, a 37 year-old single mom of two. For Keisha, now in her second year of homeschooling, deciding to pull her 14 year-old daughter and 9 year-old son out of public school was about creating a better work life balance. “I travel a lot with work, and with regular brick-and-mortar schools I would have to rush home. Now my kids can travel with me,” she says, adding that it's important to take time to research before jumping in. She spent the summer before committing to homeschool checking out different curriculums online, before ultimately choosing Time4Learning. She says that the platform is very entertaining, flexible, and it cultivates independence in kids. “They haven't been on a mandated schedule since we first started,” says Keisha, “and not only do they get the job done, they exceed the standard with more time left to have fun.” It's a skill that she feels will set them up nicely for college when there are no teachers breathing down their necks. She feels that homeschooling is especially important for African Americans because you can teach kids African American history that's not being taught in schools.
    “With homeschool, you get complete autonomy to teach whatever you deem, in whatever way you want. It could mean going to a museum, and teaching them about Egypt. In the end, it creates a more cultured child that doesn't have to feel inadequate in any situation.”
    Robin, who is currently homeschooling 3 kids, with a fourth that is now in college, chose homeschool when she noticed that her 7-year-old would come home crying everyday, one child got left on the school bus, her youngest would have tons of homework, and her kids were bickering with one another nonstop. “I felt completely out-of-the loop in regards to what was actually happening at school,” says Robin who with her ex-husband's support, and freelance work for a company online, left her job to homeschool. She also uses the Time4learning platform as a supplement because with multiple children it allows them to work independently online. “My 5-year-old uses it a lot, and one day he was reading,” she says. But before we start thinking that we can sit them in front of the computer and like magic, school is done, there's obviously more to it.
    “My younger kids tend to work independently, but with my high school kids I like to have discussions. It works out well because I'm learning new things and starting over too so we’re learning how to problem solve and figure things out together.”
    It’s a skill that her oldest, who is now in college, greatly appreciates. Ultimately, Robin is happiest about the bond that homeschooling has created for her entire family.

    Obviously, there are a million-and-one questions that could be asked, but a big one that can't be left on the floor has to do with socialization. How do kids learn how to interact with other kids?

    “Good question,” says Robin, who acknowledges that it was a big question for her too.
    “There are tons of homeschooling groups, and some parents teach classes. There are also library activities, and family meet-ups at different locations. Some high schools even allow homeschool kids to attend their dances and other events. There’s never a shortage of activities.”
    Both moms stress that homeschooling is a process, and it’s not about doing it perfectly- which is a very real issue for a lot of us because no one wants their kids to be behind academically. It's definitely encouraging to see these two African American single moms homeschooling multiple children, and it brings me a step closer to making my decision.

    Are you considering homeschooling, already doing it, would you do it?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  ErickkaSySavane.com

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    Tiffany Haddish & John Legend
    By Veronica Wells

    The other day I fell into a Youtube rabbit hole and discovered an interview between Tiffany Haddish and John Legend. The two talked about all sorts of interesting things but one thing Haddish said stuck with me. John asked her: “Do you find guys like women that make them laugh? I have a wife that makes me laugh all the time.”

    Tiffany: “I think guys that are confident in themselves, love women who make them laugh. I think guys that are very insecure—which is what I seem to attract— they don’t like it so much. They be cool the first few dates, then they’ll be like, ‘Oh wait, she can control this whole room.’”

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    It was an interesting concept to me because Black women, in my opinion, are some of the funniest people around. But I wonder if people who aren’t Black women fully recognize that. I’m reminded of the fact that “Saturday Night Live” still struggles to find Black female comedians. Furthermore, when people do recognize a Black woman’s humor, is it appreciated? I asked a couple of Facebook friends: “Are men intimidated by a woman’s humor—if she’s funnier than him?” Women and mostly men chimed in with various responses.
    “I think so sometimes especially when it is combined with intelligence... some men get super paranoid and defensive.”
     “Mine Ain’t…”
    “Men are intimidated by everything.”
    “I don’t think so but I also have no idea [my husband] loves that I’m funny. He thinks I’m hilarious.”
    And then very simply, “Yes.”
    Every single man who jumped on the status to respond said they had no problem with a funny woman. In fact, it was a plus for them.

    I’m well aware of the fact that Tiffany is not everyone’s cup of tea, not just her humor but her personality. Full disclosure, the aspects of Tiffany’s personality that some people find to be “too much” or “overshares” or “annoying” I consider honest and refreshing. It’s extremely rare to find someone who says what so many of us are thinking. But my personal preference aside, I think any man who asks Tiffany Haddish on a date has seen the real Tiffany Haddish. There are no surprises with her. She is who she is and, from what I’ve seen, doesn’t seem to change based on the environment. So if you liked Tiffany’s personality as a casual observer, the fact that she would dominate a room on a date shouldn’t shock or surprise anyone.

    Perhaps men believe that in a romantic setting a woman will alter herself for his pleasure because far too many men believe women exist solely to please them and also because so many women have done it before. I’ve seen too many instances where women who are vibrant and vivacious around their girlfriends become muted around their romantic partners, afraid to show their true selves. And that’s pretty sad.

    Tiffany’s conundrum reminded me of something Oprah said about Stedman one time. As you all know Stedman’s name was a running joke in the ‘90’s. A man who made less money than his woman was a Stedman. A man who lived in his wife’s shadow was a Stedman. A man who couldn’t exercise any real power or control in the relationship was a Stedman. I was a kid in the nineties but I remember the discussions and not necessarily because I found anything inherently wrong with them at the time. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized they were sexist, patriarchal and misogynistic. And what really helped me to reframe them was what Oprah herself said about Stedman. She talked about walking in a room with him and feeling him take down his own energy, so that she had the ability to shine, uninterrupted. He made the conscious decision to decrease himself in order for her to be showcased.

    Oprah being interviewed by Barbara Walters
    In her interview with Barbara Walters, Oprah explained that she made the conscious decision to stop talking about her man in 2003 because of exploitative stories people created when they were seen out together. But they’re still riding. And she told Walters: “I cannot say that I know of another man on this planet who could have lived this life with such dignity, such grace and such respect and humility and still hold his own and be his own.”

    While it’s a beautiful testament to Stedman’s character, I feel like it’s a little unfortunate that maybe there aren’t many men who would feel comfortable taking on this secondary role--at least in the public eye--when women do it all the time.

    Are men intimidated by funny women? Strong women? Do they find it hard taking a back seat?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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    Photo via leysahairandmakeup
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Summer is no time to shy up. In fact, it's time to go all the way in because it's hot and can't nobody be bothered. That said, we rounded up a few instagram favs who are doing the most to give us a little inspiration to peek out of our own boxes. Whatdoyathink? Are you ready to go big...ER?

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    Issa Rae

    Channel your inner super hero by rocking this chain link braid like Issa Rae, created by hair celebrity stylist Felicia Leatherwood! 


    Jaxyn

    Let your inner Goddess shine like hair care entrepreneur @bennyharlem's beautiful daughter Jaxyn.



    Staci.aa
    Bring out the kid in you and go crazy with these bubble bands! I don't remember the actual name for these, but I sure do remember wearing them! You?


    jus.brittany 
    Feed in your feed-in braids like there's no tomorrow...But be careful not trip! 


    Flaunt big curls like this cutie! If you know her, tag her!


    Ashleigh Shackelford
    Do box braids that brush your buns- Oh, and embrace your curves while you're at it!


    StudiMucci! 
    Go color crazy and do unicorn braids like StudiMucci! 


    Tag source
    Wrap it up, rock out in red, and let your melanin take a front seat! 


    Nneoma 
    Puff it, braid it, bead it, do the MOST like Nneoma! 

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    WriteNowFaithDesigns

    People say, "Count your blessings." But how often do we do it? Everyday? Once a week? Once a month? Ever? And what does it even mean? Well, counting your blessings means taking the time to acknowledge the good in your life...it means recognizing the things big and small that let us know that God's love is real. Whether you count your blessings all the time or rarely, we're giving you the opportunity to do it right now. Tell us why you're blessed in the comment section below for a chance to win 1 of 10 'Blessed' handmade key chains by WriteNowFaithDesigns!  

    WriteNowFaithDesigns
    WriteNowFaithDesigns was started the summer of 2018 by Christian brother and sister duo Kanisha Parks (who happens to be one of our esteemed CurlyNikki writers!) and her 16-year-old brother Stephan. They began designing custom handmade Christian License plates, key chains and cute decals/stickers as a simple and effortless way that people can carry a little bit of Jesus with them wherever they go! Visit their site to see more gift-friendly designs and, in the meantime, tell us why you're blessed. 10 winners will be announced 1 week from today, and will get to choose what color they want their custom made key chain!
    Stephan & Kanisha of WriteNowFaithDesign


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    EfikZara 
    Hi Z-Stars,

    I’d like to share this video of me trying out the very popular egg mask that alleges hair growth of an inch overnight...You have to watch to find out what happens, but the results are definitely shocking! 

    Enjoy and Best Wishes,
    Zara “EfikZara”

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    Will you try the egg mask? Tell us below!

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    Chidera Eggerue by @michaelatphotos for @blogosphere_magazine

    By Erickka Sy Savané

    If you've ever felt bad because of saggy boobs, this one's for you Boo!

    Full disclosure, my boobs started sagging when I was in high school, maybe even sooner. I was a chunky kid who grew out of her weight by high school so when the weight dropped, so did my boobs. To make matters worse, I became a fashion model in New York where skinny girls with perky boobs reigned supreme. While it seemed that every other girl was walking the streets or the runway braless, I never left home without one, and that just got further cemented when I breastfed my two daughters. So saggy boobs has been something that I've come to accept as my lot in life, just like my second toe is longer than my first. And now London-based Chidera comes along turning the saggy boob conversation on its bra-straps, saying that a cat is no longer a cat, and for a woman like me, I couldn't be happier.

    Ain't no shame in Chidera's game! Via IG
    Listen to this young woman's interview below and hear how she went from being determined to get a breast lift at 18 years old, to celebrating what society as a whole considers a major flaw. Because truth is, you may not be struggling with low-riding boobs, but there's probably something that society is saying is wrong with you and this may be the voice you need to hear! 



    Chidera loving herself As Is.

    So Ladies, do saggy boobs matter? Do you have the courage to do this?

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    Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield 
    By Dawn Washington

    Sorry to Bother You is Spike Lee's Bamboozled, Jordan Peele's Get Out, and Childish Gambino's music video, This is America, with a little bit of Michael Jackson's Thriller sprinkled at the end. That said, there is a lot going on in the Boots Riley film about a Black man, Cassius Green (LaKeith Stanfield), who goes from broke to not woke. From political commentary showing up in Detroit’s (Tessa Thompson) earrings, to dubbed over-puppetry, to a TV/ reality show literally entitled "Get the Shit Kicked Out of You," this independent dark comedy is throwing the whole kitchen sink (or Coke can) at us in terms of messages. And then there are the equisapians...don't ask.

    If chaotic, disturbing, artsy, and absurd satire is your thing, the film definitely has some highlights!

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    Steven Yeun
    Steven Yeun (Squeeze) - it's rare that we see a Korean American play an activist/leader revolting against an oppressive system on screen. Even rarer is a Korean American man cast as the love interest of a Black woman. But let me tell you, both work quite well in Sorry to Bother You, so much so that I was rooting for Detroit to get it in with Squeeze. Yeun in the role of Squeeze is also a reminder that Asians have been neighbors to the marginalized experiences of Black and Brown communities, particularly in large cities like LA where this film was shot. The movie also demonstrates some of the mad breakdancing skills one can find in those Asian hoods.

    Tessa Thompson
    A Feminist Cry- Sorry to Bother You takes a surprise turn when it spotlights a feminist message halfway through the film. But I guess any movie about exploitation would be remiss to omit the struggle of women, especially at such a time as this in our country. I think the satirical tone of the movie shines best at this moment when a powerful yet absurd missive about how women have been violently used and abused is artistically (and effectively) displayed on Detroit’s body.

    Cassius Winning
    “Nigga Shit”- Lastly, there is a scene near the climax of the film that nicely sums up both the spectacle and the myth of Black otherness. As the CEO of the company (Armie Hammer) singles out Cassius at a party and rallies him to perform a freestyle rap to the mostly white crowd, Cassius nervously throws out the most nonsensical lyrics, so crazy and so germane to undying Black stereotypes that the crowd ironically eats it up.

    Watch the trailer

    Even though Sorry to Bother You is not my cup of tea, I can appreciate its commentary on the economic system that rules our nation (and our lives). The movie’s dismal warning is blaring: whether it is a CEO who is trying to maintain his wealthy and powerful lifestyle or a Black man trying to move out his uncle's garage, the destructive system of American capitalism can enslave us all and turn us into exploitative monsters if we are not careful.

    Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?

    Dawn has a Master of Arts in Media and Cinema Studies and holds down a day job in academia. She is a freelance writer from Chicago who has written for The Chicago Defender, NBC5 Chicago, and Caramel Lattes and Stilettos. Read more of her writing here.

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    Patricia Okoumou
    By Ta-ning Connai

    The Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July...what an ironic time and place to wage a protest against immigration laws, considering what both the monument and holiday stand for. It was the perfect place for Rise and Resist (a New York activist group) to oppose the Trump administration's asinine policy of inhumanely snatching innocent children from their parents.

    And as disbelief swept across the globe and we saw children psychologically tortured and literally encaged, it was Patricia Okoumou, a member of Rise and Resist, who put her compassion to the test by making a statement of her own.

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    Patricia at a press conference post protest
    America watched as the Congo immigrant/US citizen started at the feet of Lady Liberty with the intention to climb full scale. Her plan was not to leave until all families were reunited, though Trump has no strategy to make that happen. Pressure ensued as police presence grew and after 4 hours, she was forced down, arrested, with trial a pending. The Donald called her a clown (says the guy who called torch throwers “good people”).

    To some, Okoumou’s demonstration might seem like an epic fail, even crazy, but it’s her bravery that prevailed. According to Proverbs 31:9, she did the right thing, “open your mouth, judging righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Yeah, her actions were unlawful and downright dangerous, but so were the civil rights sit-ins. Black people have been fighting for radical change since the beginning of time, and we often have to use radical means to bring that change about. Reminds me of the protest led by Ol’ Prophet Nat that shook up American history...

    Nat Turner
    Nat Turner was explicit in his assertion that God gave him a vision; to overtake white plantation owners and their fam by killing them in their sleep. So, after many years of rage, prayers and various signs, the slave-turned-preacher-man set out to set it off.

    August 1831, over 70 white people were slaughtered before a white militia rose up. Nat spent two months on the run before he finally got caught. An execution by hanging was his eventual fate. And while he didn't actually end the evils of slavery that day, his uprising was just one of the many revolts that did.

    Let's thank God that we never have to fight like that, but there’s still so much fighting to be done. I’ll never forget my first time lifting my voice for changes that I thought were worth the risk…

    Learning black history was a regular thing at Brooklyn Academy Grade School. Moving to Cali was an actual drag, ‘cause at my new school, that was NEVER happening. I searched far and wide to find me a pal to join my Black Power Crew; to tell our teachers to cut the crap and tell us about our past.

    My “wanna-be Angela Davis” protest turned into a one man band that nobody wanted to hear. I told one teacher I wasn't feeling their class and they told me to leave. The next teacher, I did the same thing, but my protest was now on full blast. I filled in the so-called right answers on my history exam, then scratched them out til the paper tore just for dramatic effect. Next, I'd write questions about black historians and put the answers on the side. I got my A, (congrats to me) with a tongue-lashing warning me to stop.

    Finally, the whitewashing took me to the edge. I stood up and yelled to the top of my lungs, “Do you even know who invented that clock?” “What about the street lights?” “And why are you teaching us about Thomas Edison when he stole the light bulb from a BLACK MAN?” ”Since George Washington had slaves, what about George Washington Carver?!”

    Don't act surprised when I tell you this, but I got kicked out, AGAIN. Instead of feeling my pain, my teachers added salt to the wound, so I dropped out and got my G.E.D. Did I do the right thing in my fight for the cause? Who knows, but darn it, I tried! No I didn't get the entire curriculum changed, but maybe I sparked a few flames. Maybe a brotha decided to embrace his heritage. Maybe my teacher realized my history has depth. Or what if one day another wild child stood up?

    Ok, so maybe bloodshed, jail time or expulsion from school just ain't your thing. But there's a millions ways to lend your voice to things that matter most. If it rattles your heart, you're the chosen one to make the rattling stop, and there's just some problems that won't get resolved without some help from YOU.
    How do you stand up for what you believe in?
    TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie! 

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    Monica & Brandy
    By Brenda Alexander 

    So Brandy is still mad at Monica and no one knows why. There’s nothing worse than an adult throwing subliminal shots day in and day out but remains elusive when asked what’s true tea.

    At this year’s Essence Fest, Brandy took it upon herself to alter the lyrics to she and Monica’s classic duet, The Boy Is Mine, to “the song is mine,” once again bringing light to the fact that she doesn’t see it for Monica.

    ***Insert confused face emoji here***

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    Out of all of the times Brandy has used the stage to throw shots at Monica versus be the vocal Bible we all know and love, this is the most disappointing. Why? Because, Essence Fest is damned near a century old celebration of black women, sisterhood and empowerment, and you Brandy chose to use that platform to bring your fellow peer down...again.

    Brandy Rayana Norwood, baby, this has to stop. And I say this with love before I delve into a read.


    For the life of me, I cannot understand why she has it out for Monica as bad as she does. The Boy Is Mine debuted when I was 7. I’m 27 now. That’s 20 years sis. Aren’t you tired of carrying that burden?

    I’m forever a Brandy fanatic. No seriously, I was in her fanclub as a child, Never Say Never is the greatest album of all time to me, I dreamed of a Moesha and Q love affair and I still remember the first website I ever browsed was www.4everbrandy.com at a local Free Library when I was 6. So it kills me to get Brandy together.

    I don’t get this R&Beef. Brandy has spoken about it here and there but continues to flip flop on whether or not there’s an actual problem. I’ve done some digging to at least try and understand what Brandy’s problem is.

    Brandy and Monica, circa 1998 at MTV’S Video Music Awards
    Their saga dates back to 1998 when their duet topped the charts. There was chatter then about a feud that both Brandy and Monica denied, even with reports of a fist fight at the MTV VMA’s that was eventually confirmed in an interview with the two on The Breakfast Club. At the time however, they chalked it up to the media stirring the pot, which was quite possible as they were always compared in age, musicality and their opposite images: Brandy as the girl next door with a sweet tune and Monica as the around the way girl with a soulful voice.

    Something was clearly off between the two as they performed their mega-hit together only once before reuniting for a subpar follow-up of It All Belongs to Me in 2012. They went on a world tour to convince us that they indeed did not necessarily click nearly two decades earlier but realized there was no substantial reason why. The two did joint interviews, performances, one-night only shows, talked of a joint tour and even bonded over their love and loss of their mentor Whitney Houston - only for Brandy to turn around and announce the tour was on hold because they “were going in different directions.” Still, Brandy insisted that there was no beef.

    Brands & Mons on set of "It All Belongs to Me" music video, circa 2012
    Their “bond” didn’t last long because just a few years later, Brandy was giving Monica “chile byes” after the #SoGoneChallenge was popping on social media and Brandy decided to discredit Monica’s relationship with Whitney. Monica remained mute. Yet and still, Brandy, her hashtags and lyric adjustments won’t stop. Her amazing performance at the 2016 Soul Train Awards where she was receiving a legend award was overshadowed when she once again took aim at Monica during her performance of Talk About Our Love by altering the words of the song. But I’ve come to realize, that this is what Brandy does. She has a tendency to knuck but not buck, act innocent and play victim only to do it over again.

    Brandy my dear, y’all have more in common then you realize: y’all can sang, Whitney loved the both of you (how many of us can say that alone?), y’all won a Grammy together, and y’all are of a certain age...too old for this nonsense. What needs to happen is for the two of you to genuinely ban together and show the new generation of singers how it works as a collective. Or, if that’s too much for you Bran, either tell us once and for all what you’re bitter about or shut up.

    Because Monica remains unbothered, never speaking ill of you and praises your talent constantly while taking the high road. And, from my perspective, Monica is out here living her fabulous life on Instagram with her family and her fashions. This is what makes you look all the more pathetic and petty, and that’s not a cute combo B-Rocka.

    Do you think it's time for Brandy to drop the beef? How long have you stayed mad at someone?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    xojane.com
    By Kelly-X

    While studying abroad, I quickly became friends with one of my neighbors on my floor, Thomas. Thomas is Dutch and spent most of his early adult life in St. Croix, an island in the Caribbean that has a lot of melanin — in other words, he grew up around black folks. Thomas also has a son who is close in age to me. We immediately clicked with one another, and I’m just a weirdo who always seem to gravitate to and get along well with older people.

    Looking back, I see that Thomas and I were destined to grow close. During the first conversation I had with Thomas, not even 15 minutes of meeting him, he looked at me and said: “Thank you for being confident enough to wear your natural hair.”

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    Amber Wagner aka Jstlbby
    By Kira Sparkles

    Y’all, I am in love with Amber Wagner. When I say that name, it might not ring a bell, but I guarantee you’ve seen her videos before on her Instagram as she’s more famously known as Just Living Baby (@jstlbby). This 26 year old, Los-Angeles based homegirl stands out and is impossible to ignore. Whether it’s because of her flamboyantly fantastic sunglasses, her super long nails or a colorful collection of weaves and wigs on deck, she’s out here encouraging us to live our best lives while reminding us how blessed we are. Even without all of her accessories, Amber commands our attention. Still don’t know who I’m talking about (or just a little curious)? I rounded up some of my favorite videos from her IG to get you just as on board as I am!

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    PS: Language advisory 

    A post shared by Amber Wagner (@jstlbby) on
    You’re right, girl. Trouble don’t last always. I just needed the reminder. At the end of the day, attitude is everything. Or maybe it’s whatever’s in that lollipop.

    A post shared by Amber Wagner (@jstlbby) on
    Seeing a big girl getting her entire life unapologetically is exactly what we need. Body shaming is hella real, but Amber is still out here not giving two solid f*cks what anybody thinks about her, all while laughing, smiling and enjoying the day while telling us to do the same thing. The clouds are out, but it’s always a good day to have a good day!

    This was a video that got autotuned into the hottest track of 2018. This is my shit. #trappinpositivity2018

    A post shared by Amber Wagner (@jstlbby) on
    Instead of talking to the hand, Amber’s letting her hand do the talking. Listen, between those acrylics and her punctuated movements flavoring up my entire day, I’m handed my entire life.

    This one really hurts to watch. But in a sea of perfection on Instagram, seeing someone who comes from a genuine place is refreshing. Despite whatever she’s going through, Amber keeps it real no matter what. Hearing her talk about her struggles, we can definitely all relate to this one in some form. But the most refreshing thing of all is how she can spin something negative back into something positive.

    Follow Amber on IG! 
    **********

    What do you love about Amber? 
    Kira is a passionate, outspoken writer keeping it real for the people. She's a UF graduate with a soft spot for cats. Read more of her work at her blog KiraSparkles!

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    Quote Deepak Chopra 
    By Nikki Walton

    I listened to a talk a while ago by Mooji that really stuck with me. He said to imagine you’re at the symphony, listening to a beautiful piece of music. If you were asked to hone in on just the violins, you could, in spite of the other instruments. At first it would take a little effort to bring the violins into focus, but then, with just a little attention, you could keep them in the foreground of the orchestra. To hear the violins, you wouldn’t have to silence the cellos or the clarinets. You wouldn’t even have to tell the rude people sitting next to you to shut up, you’d just have to place your attention, your awareness on the violins. Simple.

    Your purpose in every moment is to find and listen to the ‘violins,’ aka the Silence, that’s always available even when the cellos, clarinets, and rude audience members (thoughts, feelings and circumstances) are raging. This Silence is always present... IT is Presence.

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    I still have a ‘formal ‘meditation practice, but in the last few years, my life has become meditation. At first I could only find the silence while I was seated with my eyes closed. Gradually, the Silence grew louder and became a permanent fixture in every moment (it always was... it just became so consciously). I’m always aware of this Silence, now, even during the most heated debates, or when I’m on the phone with the cops because our whole car just got stolen (my life last week... we got it back too!!!), or when my thoughts are racing... IT’s always there, waiting to be re-cognized. And it’s not just Silence. IT’s a quiet that feels like love, peace, joy... happy for no reason. It’s like a hella solid, felt-faith where you just know that everything is always, already alright.

    My purpose in every moment is to find and listen to the violins, then I do the stuff. #BeHerNow

    Can you hear the violins?

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    Discovering Natural 
    Just like our edges, the nape area can have a lot of breakage, but also a lot of growth. These tips for strengthening and growing nape hair from Discovering Natural are so practical that even a child can follow them!

    Continue
    Do you find it hard to grow nape hair?


    DiscoveringNatural


    Social Media:
    Twitter: @sawahtwit
    Snapchat: @discovernatural

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    By Tiffy Kink

    Before we get started, I need you to understand who I am. I like meeting people online, but I don’t like hook-ups. I don’t like the idea of random sex. I’m very boring when it comes to dating to be honest and like things, like my sex life, to be organized. Which is why the best sex I ever had (so far) threw me for a loop.

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    The Back Story
    It was with a guy I met on tinder. I know... I KNOW. We were talking for months before I felt comfortable enough to invite him out for an impromptu movie night. The vibe didn’t start feeling weird until after we bought the tickets. We had a little over an hour to kill before we could go in to the theater so we decided to wait it out at a neighboring fast-food. Before we got there, he turned to me and said, “stay here” like I was some kind of dog waiting for a command, and walked away going around the corner. Perplexed and annoyed, I wondered, “Where the hell did he go?” “And who does he think he’s talking to?”

    He came back and I told him I didn’t appreciate being told to wait, to which he explained that he had to use the bathroom and didn’t think it would be a good idea to follow him. I immediately understood when we got to the fast-food place and it was crowded as was expected on a Saturday night. From there, the night picked up as we talked about one of my favorite topics: Technology. I found that he was easy to talk to and there wasn’t any weird awkward pauses in our conversations.

    As we were watching the movie, he started holding my hand. Confused, I asked if something was wrong and if he always did that with women he took on dates. He simply said “No,” not sensing concern, and went back to watching the movie. I didn’t pull away. I just let him hold my hand. After the movie, we talked for a while then went home. When we talked again later that night, I asked him when he was free to see another movie.

    We saw tons of movies together. I really enjoyed spending time with him and practically talked everyday on the phone. He soon grew tired of only seeing me outside and invited me to his house on several occasions. I was nervous but after what had to be the fifth invitation, I obliged. Only doing so if he agreed to my rules: No touching, no kissing. He thought it was ridiculous but agreed to comply. I didn’t want him to think I was going there to have sex with him.

    The Hook-Up (Explicit details ahead...)
    I had never thought before to pack condoms with me but did so this time. I couldn’t deny that I was growing more and more attracted to him as time went by, but I wasn’t ready to have sex with him yet. My “No Game” was strong and I didn’t think anything would happen since we were probably going to chill in his living room. To my dismay however, his sister was in the living room, which meant we would be in his room. Alone.

    He put on a movie, and at first I started reserving myself again, sitting at the edge of his bed, looking straight at the TV and not at him. I reluctantly started to cuddle with him. Cuddling soon turned into kissing which somehow turned into foreplay, with him sucking on one of my breasts, which I initiated by pulling it out of my bra, which in hindsight was a terrible mistake as having my boobs touched by a guy I’m attracted to is one of my weaknesses. His hand made its way down my jeans to my p*ssy, which was already soaking wet. Instead of giving him the chance to even try to get them open, I unbuttoned my jeans and took them off, throwing them on the floor. He got up on all fours and went in between my legs, facing me, eyeing my panties, before pulling them down over my hips, down to my ankles, then completely off.

    As he was about to go down on me, I thought about my past encounters of receiving cunnilingus for a few moments. My most recent moment before then, was not that great. It felt like he was using his teeth to graze and suck my clit. When I asked him if that was the case, he defensively asked me if I had ever had a guy go down on me. I didn’t bother to correct him. That thought immediately left my head once this guy’s tongue made the magical connection to my clit. It felt like nothing I had ever felt before. I looked up for a second to see what he was doing and found that he was making eye contact with me, all the while not missing a beat, flicking his tongue on my clit and palming and squeezing one of my breasts. I let my head drop back on the bed and looked up at the sealing, moaning, reaching my hands down and running my fingers through his dreads. An aesthetic quality I didn’t think I liked on him but grew accustomed to.

    When he stopped going down on me, he got up but not before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. I sat up and stood at the edge of the bed looking up at him. Though he was shorter than me, he suddenly looked so much taller. He bent down and gave me a long passionate kiss.

    As he stood back up, I looked at his shorts and the erection that was desperately trying to get out. I freed it by tugging on the waistband of his shorts, taking his boxers with it, and pulling them down to his ankles which he stepped out of. I didn’t realize he was so girthy. I suddenly felt intimated. I looked up at him making eye contact, then at his d*ck, and then I took him into my mouth.

    After going down on him, I got the pouch of condoms from my bag on the floor. I took one out and handed it to him. He let out a “Humph” with a smirkish smile before putting it on, grabbing my legs and pulling me to the edge of the bed. I had no idea he was so strong.

    Suddenly my legs were in the air and he was on top of me, smiling before sliding his d*ck inside me.  I loved every minute of it. The thrusting was fast, deep, and hard. A tempo I couldn’t keep up with, but thoroughly enjoyed. He stood back up still pounding into me, looking at my feet before taking one of my big toes into mouth, sucking on it. I could feel the sensation somehow traveling to my clit. We kept going like that for a couple more moments before we both grew tired, and he came. We went at it a couple more times, him giving me my orgasms through clitoral stimulation.

    After that, I thought he was going to make up some strange reason why I had to leave his house. Instead, he laid down and pulled me close to him. We cuddled and restarted the movie that was now watching us for what had to have been at least two hours. We went on to have much more sex down the road. As boyfriend and girlfriend.

    My Takeaways
    I would like to believe that this person came into my life at a time when I needed him. It had been years after my harassment and I didn’t have the greatest first sexual experience. Though I knew I was deserving of love, intimacy, and great sex, he solidified those things by going with the flow and following my lead. He made me feel so comfortable and wanted. He genuinely cared about my consent and always asked before doing something we hadn’t previously discussed.

    He paid attention to my body in ways the other two guys I had been with hadn’t. He was very open-minded and even comfortable with me introducing sex toys into our playtime. He introduced me to the intimacy I had heard existed outside of sex. Though we are no longer together, he taught me that what I thought I deserved was what I was entitled to and it is something that has stuck with me forever.

    What has your greatest sexual experience or relationship taught you?
    Tiffy kink is a New York based Sex Blogger whose goal is to spread sex positivity and break down barriers for the sexually deprived and repressed through her blog posts and sex toy reviews where she not only talks about her interactions with sex and masturbation, but she also introduces her readers to body-safe sex toys and advice. If you like what you’ve read and would like to see more, visit her blog Aquakink.com Follow her on Twitter @Theaquakink

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    Getty images
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    You would think that marrying a beautiful brown-skinned TV and film star like Gabrielle Union would be enough to show Dwayne Wade's sons that darker-skinned women are beautiful. Think again.


    In a recent interview with Refinery29, the Gabs revealed a very important conversation that she had with NBA star Dwayne Wade's 3 boys, and nephew, about colorism. In a nutshell, she asked them to show her who the hottest girls in their school were on instagram, and they all came back with...wait for it...light-skinned, curly-haired, big butt and boob girls. 


    Collective sigh.

    It took me back to an article I wrote called 'What Are We Teaching Our Boys About Black Beauty' when rapper Kodak Black went off the rails talking about not liking dark-skinned women or his own dark skin. I interviewed a friend who has two sons, 8 and 13 year’s old, about whether or not she's reinforcing black beauty, and she said,
    “My husband and I have never focused on skin color, but we talk to our sons a lot about valuing what’s in a person’s heart, not what she looks like on the outside.” 
    Pump the breaks...while it's commendable to reinforce the beauty in one's heart...we can't ignore colorism.

    When Gabby recognized a glaring red light when these young black boys only saw the beauty of light skin, she stepped in and began pulling up dark-skinned beauties on instagram, including actress Ryan Destiny, star of Lee Daniel's 'Star.' Gabby says, 

    “They’re like, ‘Oh, she bad!’ 'But do you know how many Ryan Destinies there are?' I pull up every Black model, women from all over the world, and they’re beautiful. But they don’t see the beauty unless it comes from an actress or a supermodel or a video vixen. They have to have somebody else tell them that a chocolate woman is attractive for them to believe it.”
    Ryan Destiny 
    Bingo!

    Black boys do have to have someone tell them that chocolate women are beautiful for them to believe it. It's the same with our girls. We have to go that extra mile because we've been shown time and again that society isn't set up for people are darker hues...But it's not impossible. I'm encouraged by men like Kofi Siriboe and his rumored relationship with model Duckie. Dude is smitten like a kitten!

    Model Duckie and Kofi Siriboe

    President Barack and Michelle Obama

    Then there's our favorite First couple Barack and Michelle...

    Now did they grow up in a household where black beauty was reinforced in the home? For Kofi, who grew up with a strong Ghanaian mom, perhaps. For Barack, who grew up with his white mom and then white grandparents, it's unlikely. But it can't hurt, and can only help. 

    I've seen the difference it makes with my own young daughters to proactively show them photos of beautiful brown and dark-skinned women (women who look like them) on TV, instagram, and in real life. Now they point out beautiful black women to me before I can even say anything. We have to educate them on how to see black beauty. Admittedly, my own education has come largely from instagram where dark-skin beauties are in abundance. See them and you know they're in a league all their own....you know, maybe we don't have these conversations with our young black boys because we think that there's nothing we can do to combat colorism and this seemingly automatic turn towards lighter-skin women. This country is old and this has been going on a long time. But hopefully, what Gabrielle Union did with her step-sons, and what many of us parents are doing with our own younguns, will show that it's possible to reshape this colorism conversation. After all, look what we did with hair. 

    Do you proactively affirm dark-skin beauty?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  


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    Devian White
    By Mwabi Kaira

    Look at most young girls and they are busy mimicking the looks and actions of older women they see on social media. Everyone looks like the next girl; same hair, same make up, same clothes, and that's why it’s so refreshing to see 16-year-old Georgia Peach, Devian White, so comfortable in her own skin!

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    How long have you been natural? Have you ever felt any pressure to perm your hair?
    I have been natural most of my life. My hair was damaged from a perm that took a long time to grow out. Perming my hair wasn’t my decision and it’s something I never wanted because I’ve always loved my natural curly hair. I feel great being able to embrace mine and encourage women to embrace theirs too.

    Where do you get your confidence?
    Knowing that I’m not like everyone else is already a confidence booster. I’m never afraid of who’s looking or worried about sticking out from the crowd; I’m 100% comfortable with my puffball everywhere I go. My family and friends encourage me to continue wearing my natural hair and love that uniqueness about me. I never pay attention to any negative comments about my hair, it makes me love it even more.

    Who is your hair inspiration?
    My hair inspiration is Lauren Lewis. She isn’t afraid to show the world the beauty she possesses as a black woman. Her hair is beautiful, big, curly, and free. She inspires so many men and women to embrace their natural beauty.



    What products have you found that work for your hair?
    I use shampoo and conditioner by OGX, curl tamer by Curls, and moisturizer by Shea Moisture.

    Tell me about Silky Skin Custard and how you got to work with them?
    Silky Skin Custard is a black-owned business with handmade skincare products. My mom is a good friend of the owner and I was given the opportunity to participate in a video shoot to promote the business.

    Silky Skin Custard

    Any advice for teen girls thinking about wearing their hair natural?
    To any girl who is thinking about transitioning, it’s definitely something worth a try. It’s the healthiest route that you can take for your hair and it can help you become more comfortable with your natural beauty. It’s important to be aware of how beautiful you are and not be afraid to show it!


    What are your plans after High School?
    I’m weighing two options after I graduate high school: Attending Savannah College of Art and Design for a bachelor’s degree in Architecture. Or, studying architecture abroad in a European country that also offers English study programs.


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    Photos de femmes samburu
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Many women dream of what it would be like to live in a society with no men, free of patriarchy and all that comes with it...these women actually did it. Umoja is an all-female village in Kenya, founded by a woman named Rebecca Lolosoli, some 25 years ago. It consists of nearly 50 women who no longer want to suffer abuse. The place is doing so well that it's inspired neighboring villages to start their own women-only communities. Once you see how they live, you may want to do the same or at least purchase a one-way ticket to Kenya!

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    Could you live in a village with no men?

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    Beyonce via Neal Farinah IG
    By Veronica Wells

    I’ll never forget my homeroom teacher Mr. Litz and the thoughts he shared one day about Black hair. In addition to home room, Mr. Litz, a White man, was also my middle school art teacher. And during his explanation of how he recreates Black hair, he told us, his predominately Black class, that Black people’s hair was inherently thin and weak.

    I remember us, the Black kids, looking around at each other like, “Ain’t this some sh*t.” But none of us said anything to address his ignorance.

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    But I would learn that White men like my art teacher weren’t the only ones who carried false notions about Black folks and our hair. When I introduced my cousin to two friends, she immediately asked me whether they were Black. They were visibly Black, so I laughed before saying, “Yeah.” She repeated herself, “Are both of their parents Black?” I said “Yeah and their grandparents too.” Surprised, she paused for a moment before saying, “I just thought they were mixed with something because I’ve never seen a Black person’s hair that long.”

    Throughout my life, I would hear Black folk make these type of comments. One friend just knew that a mutual college acquaintance was going to have a son who had “good hair” because her husband was White. I’d heard these myths of people who talked about “good hair” but to hear it from someone in my age group was startling. After all, we were in the midst of the “Natural Hair Movement.” Sisters everywhere were growing out or hacking off their relaxed ends in favor of their natural kinks and curls.

    In all honesty, even the Natural Hair Movement wasn’t without its flaws. The mainstream, commercialized and widely accepted representatives were often women with light skin and 3C curls. Hair that bounced instead of hair that fluffed. I can’t tell you the number of women I heard openly coveting that type of hair, scouring the hair care aisles looking for thee product that would magically change their genetics and hair texture.

    Gradually though, I started to see women getting the message, accepting themselves and their hair, learning what they could do with their tighter coils, their thicker locs. I saw more and more tutorials on how to style—and more importantly how to moisturize 4C hair.

    Glimmers of hope.

    But every once in a while, despite our culture’s slow movement toward self-love and complete acceptance, there are moments when I realize we’re still holding on to old, negative beliefs about our hair and its possibilities.

    When Beyoncé’s hair stylist Neal Farinah posted this image saying that she rocked her natural hair at the On The Run II stop in Rome…or in his own words: 
    nealfarinahSAY WHAT😉. NATURAL CURLY HAIR 🐝OTRII ROME

    Twitter blew up with folks who doubted the possibility, vehemently.















    Personally, I believe it’s hers. Only because Tina Knowles Lawson, Beyoncé’s mother, has a similar texture and quite a bit of length— in her sixties. And months ago, she shared this image of her daughter’s natural hair.

    Beyonce via Tina Lawson 's IG
    This isn’t about convincing anyone. It’s about the stereotypes and negative beliefs we’re still holding on to when it comes to Black hair.

    Just the other day, I heard a Black person wonder aloud, “Why did God give us hair like this?”

    If we’re still asking questions like that, I think we can acknowledge that there is still a way to go. Still, to her credit, the woman who asked this question does wear her hair natural--even if she’s not entirely convinced of its beauty.

    And for all the ignorance and mainstream messaging we’ve received over the years, I’ve noticed that Black women are making more strides to embrace natural textures. The other day, my fiancé and I were at an Afrobeat party and there were plenty of women who wore their hair or natural hair textured wigs/weaves to the club no less. Plenty of Black women have been wearing their hair naturally for a while now. But seeing these type of styles in the club, where so many women are trying to look and feel their sexiness, sends a message that we’re not all the way there yet but we’re certainly on our way.

    Do you feel we still hold a lot of negative beliefs about our hair?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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