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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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  • 08/21/18--08:06: Gay in a Black Family

  • By Erma BreAnn

    As family reunion season begins to wind down, I can’t help but reminisce. The passing down ancestors stories and seeing family who’ve moved far away always touches my spirit. I can feel the heat of the south and the smell of the fish fry. My grandmother's hands in mine as we dance and I sink into a hole of memories. It’s my favorite season and yet the season of my greatest anxiety. 

    Around this time, since I came out, I tend to reflect on my relationship with my extended family. Over the years my relationship with them has become distant. Sometimes I wonder if that is their fault or my own. I often think about the last family reunion I attended and this one particular moment comes to mind. I was giving everyone their last hug when my mother’s youngest sister began to cry - it’s a thing she does everytime we part - this time I followed suit. I missed them and I was going to miss them again. As I was walking to the car my heart began to break for something that hadn’t occurred yet but was a real fear of mine. That fear was whether this would be the last time I see my family in this way. When will they disown me? See I’m gay, so it’s not irrational because this sort of thing still happens. Now mind you, I am extremely open about my queerness, so this isn’t news to them. It is apparent they rather not discuss it or have my queer life in their presence. It’s okay as long as they don’t see it.

    That seems to be a trend within the Black community. “We love our queer family members just don’t bring it home.” This was the sentiment I received from a family member. She sat me down and said she loved me but would never accept me being gay. It wasn’t a let’s agree to disagree conversation. It was a clear, “you can’t bring your girlfriend to my house.” As if my imaginary significant other would be the one to bring that gay spirit every Black family talks about over to her house. I was single at the time but I knew as soon as I got into a relationship my family and I would break up. It’s like she was telling me, “you can’t have both.” I couldn’t be gay and live my life as a gay person. My fear came true. I almost blamed myself as though I feared it into fruition.

    Recently, I sat at an event listening to a gay Black man tell his story about his relationship with his mother. It was beautiful and refreshing to hear how accepting she had been. Then I see friends, who are Black queer women, whose parents and family not only showed up to their wedding but wished them well. There are Black families who treat their queer family members as equals. I am happy to see these stories exist, but I can’t help but feel jealousy because acceptance is not my reality. I have seen these unicorn-like Black families in action. I long for a life where I don’t have to disappear because of who I love.

    When I was young, my parents threw me a birthday party. I started crying because one of my friends was late. This was before the era of “where you at?” text messages so I was upset. My mother snatched me up because no Black child of hers will appear ungrateful. She said to me, “You better appreciate those who are here. Now fix your face.” So of course, I fixed my face. There was more than enough people at my party. My best friend eventually arrived but by that time I was already enjoying myself. I didn’t need her but I wanted her present. That’s the lesson I need to apply. Appreciate who’s here now, the rest might show up to the party late or they may not but the party still goes on.

    I get tunnel vision in my own story. I find myself circled around queer Black folks with similar stories and we make our own family ties with each other. We forget Black families can be open-minded and can even be taught acceptance. I thought acceptance didn’t exist in my world as a Black queer person. We think the Black family isn’t accepting but what I’m finding out is, they are and with intention and with purpose.

    For my queer folks who choose to wait for the coming around of family; be patient with your family members who try and let go of those who are incapable of trying. To Black families; try and keep trying. That’s really all we ask. Life is too short to not fully embrace those closest to you. It can be hard to accept differences but to keep your loved ones close, it will be worth it. Unconditional love doesn’t mean agree but it does mean accepting the person despite your own opinions. I challenge all of you to live freely and love without boundaries or judgement.

    Do you accept the gay people in your family?

    Erma BreAnn is a queer writer and poet based in Chicago. She is the creator of the blog Basic, Bad, & Bitchie at ermabreann.com, focusing on her journey through life. Follow her on Instagram: instagram.com/ermabreann

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    Alaya High aka Lay Lay
    By Ta-ning Connai

    “Be ready so you don’t have to get ready” is a motivational quote worth repeating. Even Will Smith, Rupaul, Conor McGregor and Snoop have found them worthy of retweeting. 11-year-old Alaya High wasn't born when those words came together, yet she sure seems to epitomize them nonetheless.

    Empire Records has some heavy hitters from representation to distribution... Kendrick Lamar, Remy Ma, Migos and the late XXXTentacion. And since That Girl Lay Lay (her hip hop moniker) is one of the hottest things in the game right now, they put her on their roster, now she's the youngest artist ever to get a major record deal!

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    While her rhymes are laced with cheetos, fruit loops and other childhood things, her swaggy bravado also makes her an incredible battling mate…

    “You got too many teeth yeah

    Your mama got too much weave yeah

    I got too much steez yeah

    My dad smoke too much weed yeah”

    ...I almost died! Lay Lay up there startin’ beef AND telling her pops biz too! But he could always say it’s “medicinal” or giggle off camera like he tends to do. All her videos are recorded in his car, with her sitting in the passenger seat, putting on her lip gloss in the sun visor mirror and making sure her edges are neat. Then the music drops and she enters the ring just like she's ready to win, but we must remember that what we see now is not how she began. Many seconds, minutes, hours and days she devoted when she was all alone, which shows and proves you're never too young to start making serious moves.

    Click to watch Lay Lay bust rhymes at 5 years old


    Watch Lay Lay at 11 years old
    A post shared by Alaya High (@thatgirl_laylay44) on
    Shorty wit the rhymes can accredit her sudden rise to social media buzz. From BET to The Shade Room, then re-tweets led to 4 million views! But if I was 11, I'd have to say my favorite moment would be when Fenty Beauty sent her blue lip gloss and she shouted out Bad Girl RiRi!

    When I was a kid, I looked just like a boy and being goofy only made things worse. And the first time I ever saw the model Iman, it was her cheekbones that drew me in first. I ran to the mirror and stared real hard, trying to find some resemblance there. But who was I kidding, I had lost my lil mind, I shoulda just turned and walked away. I have no idea how I could've known to move my lamp around, and when I tilted my head, a shadow appeared and tiny cheekbones were definitely found! But tiny just wasn't good enough, so guess what I did? Chile, my jaw would be hurting, but I sucked my cheeks in like a fish! Talking took some extra work, so I would bite down on the inside of my cheeks, and I sounded like a gigantic idiot trying to get words through my teeth. This was the beginning of my modeling dream, but Iman was gorgeous and I WAS NOT. So I kept sucking my cheeks in as long as I could until I wore myself out. Eventually I moved on to practicing poses every single day, I was doing the most, even gave up my toys, I had no more time to play!

    Years went by, I became an adult and thought my chance was near, but more years passed by and even though I cried, I practiced through the tears. Then one day when I was 29 (that's over the hill in modeling years) a photographer asked to take my pic and I was like, “Ok, what the heck.” His friend who worked for a popular publication came by, saw my pic hanging on his wall, and less than 30 days later I went from being a random chick on a wall to my big ol’ face gracing the cover of Essence magazine!

    “Train up a child in the way he should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.”- Proverbs 22:6

    I'd be totally amiss not to mention that my mom supported me during those times when there wasn't a single thread of evidence that modeling was in my bloodline. But parents have the ability to see what others can't, that's why it's key to highlight children’s gifts as soon as you get a chance. Yes, it's important for kids to be kids and not have to grow up too fast, but better to be guided into success than some nonsense that ain't gonna last.

    You got kids or know a few or perhaps you're a kid at heart? No matter the case, wherever the place, now is the time to start. Maybe you're a teen or young adult who just wants to have some fun, just don't let fun (or what you “think" is fun) distract you from what needs to be done. Lay Lay is having the time of her life doing what she loves; her lifetime dream will bring her much more fun ‘cause she got started when she was young.

    Are you ready for what you want?
    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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    By Nissa Francisco

    Over seven years ago I left Canada to live in London where my husband was pursuing a work opportunity in his career. The idea of moving to a different country to be with him was something I didn’t think twice about at the time. There was nothing more thrilling to me than having the opportunity to support his career endeavors while giving me the opportunity to start fresh somewhere I had never been before. I had just fought my way to finishing a Masters degree I wasn’t even sure I wanted, while working a full-time job that was not fulfilling or progressive in the ways that I had hoped it would be. I was really beginning to question my purpose and my life condition was at an all time low. London seemed like just the shake up I needed. I would take the opportunity to pursue interests that I would never dare pursue in Canada while taking advantage of a new culture and way of life. I worked in fashion retail, took acting classes and completed a course in fashion buying and merchandising. I ended up working for a really great start-up clothing company and could see myself growing with their brand…but I still wasn’t happy.

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    London was really tough for my husband and I. We were both fresh off of finishing expensive post-graduate degrees and trying to get work opportunities to support ourselves in one of the most expensive cities in the world. London is a great place to live IF you can afford it (and if you like very little sun, but that’s a post within itself. Ugh). Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for us during that time, so when our work visa’s came to an end we decided it was best to cut our losses and bounce. My husband ended up getting a great work opportunity in his home country, Nassau Bahamas, so we did what any broke young couple would do…We followed the money. For me, following the money also meant following him…again. Apparently there is a term for people like me: Trailing Spouse. It makes me want to dry-heave! Couldn’t they come up with a more self-empowering phrase? But that’s exactly what I was. Initially, it was great going from almost never seeing sun to almost never seeing clouds. It’s the Bahamas – who wouldn’t want to live there? Yet, vacationing in paradise and living there are two different experiences.

    My husband was flourishing career-wise in Nassau. He was finally starting to see the fruits of all his laboring and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished thus far. We have been together since we were nineteen and twenty so I’ve literally seen him work his way up to where he is. He’s one of the hardest working people I know which is why I always did my best to get behind him and throw my support his way. However, I was having a hard time finding my bearings in Nassau. The industries out there are very limited and unless you fall into one of the more common career fields, you have to find ways of navigating and etching out career opportunities on your own. In Canada and London I knew how to find my own little way and create my own opportunities even if I was starting from scratch. But it just wasn’t happening for me in Nassau for various reasons.

    In the time I was there my husband and I started a family, welcoming our daughter Neylan into the world in 2015. I was working before I got pregnant with Neylan but as much as I tried to make it work, the job itself just wasn’t for me. By the time my due date was nearing I knew I didn’t want to return so I left the company to stay at home with her. Being a stay-at-home Mom was great for the first year, but by the time Neylan was one-and-a-half I was more than ready to be stimulated in other ways. I did a few freelance gigs here and there and met with a few people my husband would introduce me to in hopes of there being work of interest and/or opportunities available, but nothing was really panning out. Eventually, my husband and I both decided that it was best for me to return to Canada where I would not only have my own support system to help with Neylan, but where I could start focusing on my own career again and regain the independence I used to have.

    So here I am – back in Canada. My husband is still working in the Bahamas and visits once a month until he can move here full-time. We settled in the same city and area I grew up in. How’s that for full circle? I lived in all these cool “exotic” places and ended up back where I started. And you know what? I’m more than okay with that. Life can be beautifully ironic sometimes. I love the school Neylan attends, I love our diverse neighborhood, I love that my family is near and I like that things are different, but familiar. Most of all I like that I am reclaiming my time (Come through Maxine Waters)! I have no idea what to expect but I know that at the very least my skills match the opportunities available for me here and right now that’s important to me.

    I am realizing that it’s okay to not want to be the “Trailing Spouse.” It doesn’t make me less supportive or selfish. More importantly it doesn’t make me a failure. If I have to move a hundred more times in my life I will. If I want to stay put for the rest of my life I will. I don’t need the approval of others to validate my decisions. My journey is my own. I am worthy of spending time on myself in the ways that will help me evolve so that I can be better in all areas of my life – wife and mother included. It’s my time…

    Have you ever been a "trailing spouse" or put yourself last in a relationship? 
    Nissa writes a blog called Unraveling Impulse, dedicated to black women worldwide, who struggle to be seen and heard as the unique beings that they are, and who courageously navigate the world by daring to be whoever they want to be.

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    By Kanisha Parks

     Have you ever had bald spots, thinning edges, or a red and irritated scalp? Well read on, Sis, because Dr. Adeline N. of @brownskinderm is here with all of the information you need to know about Traction Alopecia, which is a form of hair loss caused by repetitive and prolonged tension on hair roots. TA is more prevalent than you might think, so it’s important to know how to prevent it, as it could result in irreversible hair loss in its worst case scenario.

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    What is traction alopecia?
    Dr. Adeline: Traction alopecia unfortunately often results in scarring and/or permanent loss of hair, depending on the extent of the pulling and duration of traction. Due to certain styling choices that are harmful to the hair and an even more tender hairline, many women have fallen prey to the negative effects of traction alopecia.

    Traction alopecia can be divided into two types: marginal and non-marginal. Marginal is more common, as it occurs along the hairline or “edges,” resulting from traumatic hairstyling. Non-marginal TA is hair loss caused by styling tools such as hairpins or buns, not necessarily around the hairline.

    What exactly causes traction alopecia?
    Dr. Adeline: The development of TA falls into two major categories—traumatic hairstyling practices and application of chemicals and/or heat to the hair. While the convenience of extensions, wigs and other protective hairstyles can seem appealing, overuse can cause reoccurring stress on the scalp, resulting in TA. Frequent use of tight and/or heavy buns, ponytails, braids, weaves or hair extensions, as well as cornrows and dreadlocks are believed to be the highest risk hairstyles, especially when associated with chemically relaxed hair (which is already more prone to breakage). Additionally, one can experience traction alopecia with other practices that cause constant friction and pressure on the scalp. I have diagnosed several nurses who have had hair loss from wearing nursing hair bonnets and construction workers wearing heavy helmets.

    How does a person know if they might have traction alopecia?
    Dr. Adeline: Patients experiencing TA may complain of symptoms such as redness in the areas of the scalp exposed to maximum tension which may progress to bumps referred to as tension folliculitis and even blisters. Stinging or scalp tenderness during hairdressing may also be present, which may be associated with headaches. These signs may appear early or later, making it difficult to know if they are associated with TA.

    It is worth noting that these symptoms may also overlap with other types of hair loss and as such are not unique only to TA. Also, not every hair loss around the hairline is necessarily traction alopecia. There are several other types of hair loss and/or disorders that could be the culprit.

    For example, I had a patient who for years had been using over-the-counter medications to treat hair loss on her edges with the belief that she had traction alopecia, but an evaluation of her scalp with dermoscopy (a magnifying tool with special lighting) and a scalp biopsy showed her hair loss was actually due to an auto-immune disorder.

    My advice to someone who truly feels they might have TA is to first stop all practices that may be contributing to the hair loss and to seek medical intervention by a dermatologist who is trained to identify the unique clinical features. This dermatologist should perform appropriate examinations such as scalp biopsies where the hair root can be analyzed microscopically to yield the most appropriate diagnoses in order to administer the right intervention. Not doing so could exacerbate the situation and possibly cause irreversible hair loss.

    How do I prevent traction alopecia in the first place?
    Dr. Adeline:

    1. Wear loose hairstyles as much as possible.

    2. Avoid the overuse of heat and chemical exposure to hair.

    3. Don’t tolerate pain during hairstyling! This is a sign of excessive use of tension on the scalp and should be avoided at all costs. If you have “tenting” of the hair follicle, which is elevation of the scalp skin due to tight pulling, the style is too tight and could cause damage.

    4. Don’t hesitate to give specific instructions to hairdressers, especially when styling kids’ hair in order to avoid high tension styles, as TA is also common in kids.

    Is there anything I can do to reverse the effects of traction alopecia?
    Dr. Adeline: Yes, TA can be treated and reversed if it has not reached the level of permanence but you must first start by eliminating ALL traumatic styling habits. Switch from high risk hairstyles to low risk ones now because in its later stages, TA may progress into an irreversible scarring alopecia.

    Your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid to apply on the scalp or inject it among other oral therapies aimed at reducing the inflammation of the scalp. For severe cases, a hair transplant can be considered as a surgical intervention.

    But the take home message is: late stage TA can be very difficult to treat if not futile—so early prevention and intervention is a must.

    Dr. Adeline N.

    Finally, it’s important to note that any racial and ethnic group can be affected by TA because any behavior that causes increased tension to the scalp can result in TA. However, in the US, the group most affected are women of African descent with one third of them believed to have TA.

    In conclusion, ladies please always remember to be gentle with your hair and scalp! We all love looking our best but no style is worth the pain, let alone the ultimate possibility of losing your hair in that area for good.

    Have you experienced traction alopecia?
    Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other than CurlyNikki.com, she has also written for BlackNaps.organd Devozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at kanishaparks@gmail.com

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    Kandice Mason
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    It seems like everyday there’s a new story about policing. Whether it’s the actual police arresting or harassing us or private citizens feeling it’s their right to tell us what to do. I mean, the viral video just posted of a crying black girl being sent home from her Christian school for having braid extensions is enough to make you hollar! Seriously, Jesus wouldn’t be down for protective styling? When I came across this story of 6th grade teacher Kandice Mason of North Carolina who was suspended after posting a video of her pole dancing to her private facebook account, I had to wonder, is this another case of white folks policing us or does pole dancing exclude you from being a good role model?

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    We can’t deny that pole dancing became popular in strip clubs and has been sexualized out the whazoo! If you’ve been to a strip club it’s the pole dancing that can be a main attraction, especially if a girl’s got skillz. But that’s changed a lot over the years. Look up pole dancing in Wiki and you’ll see this:
    Pole dance combines dance and acrobatics centered on a vertical pole. This performance art form takes place not only in gentleman's clubs as erotic dance, but has also recently gained popularity as a mainstream form of fitness, practiced by many enthusiasts in gyms and in dedicated dance studios.[1] Amateur and professional pole dancing competitions are held in countries around the world. Since the mid 2000s, promoters of pole dance fitness competitions have been trying to change peoples' perception of pole dance to include pole fitness as a non-sexual form of dance and acrobatics, and are trying to move pole into the Olympics as pole sports.
    An Olympic sport?! I can just imagine Serena KILL-ing-it!

    But taking it back to Ms. Kandice, mom of two with a masters in Psychology, bachelors in English, and a certificate in phlebotomy, who posted the video to her facebook page, yea, she was wearing lingerie or a swimsuit, but her page is also private, so it’s not like she was advertising it for all to see. If anything, it just goes to show that all our ‘friends’ in our facebook circle, aren’t really friends because the video was definitely leaked to school administrators. According to Kandice school officials said:
    "As role models for the school system, students, however, employees are responsible for their public conduct ... even when they are not performing their job duties as employees of the school system.”
    So she was suspended for an activity that might soon be an Olympic sport? Maybe she's just ahead of her time?

    I’ve never done pole dancing myself, but I have many friends who have, especially in LA, where there's a pole on every corner. So I figured I’d call one, my bestie, to get her thoughts.

    Tomiko Fraser-Hines is a model of epic proportions (first African American woman signed to a Maybelline contract, anyone?) and Mom of two. Tomiko took up pole dancing from actress and pole dance instructor Sheila Kelley of S-Factor in LA, for some very practical reasons.

    “I wanted to further express my sensuality and femininity, as well as get a good workout. What I loved about the class was that it wasn’t overtly sexual. There were no mirrors in the class, so we didn’t have to worry about how we looked. There were so many women of different backgrounds, and body sizes, and it was just a very supportive community. I’ve seen fully pregnant women on the pole, working it out! Of course, you develop the skills to dance for your man, if that's what you want, but pole dancing is ultimately for you.”

    Says the woman who eventually got a pole for her garage. So you can image that she thinks it’s ridiculous that a woman who pole dances can’t be a role model...

    “Pole dancing has become a form of movement and exercise like pilates or ballet. Unfortunately, it’s still seen by many as being sexual and inappropriate because of its origin in the strip club- which I’m not by any means knocking... I will always love how it empowered me as a woman, and I would encourage any woman to take a pole dancing class.”

    Kandice feels the same way, and told Buzzfeed news,

    "I dance because it’s in my heart, it’s in my soul. I dance because it makes me feel free. It’s a huge part of my identity. Telling me not to dance would be like telling a ballerina to dance in a closet. It would be like telling a butterfly not to fly."
    Photo courtesy of Kandice Mason via Buzzfeed
    Hoke County School Board of North Carolina will ultimately have the final say as to whether she will be allowed to teach again in their school system. I’m calling BS on this one. I hope that she will continue to explore who she is as a woman, even if it means she has to fight for her rights or find employment elsewhere.

    Do you think that Kandice can't be a good role model or is this another way to police us?
    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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    Zara
     Hair refusing to grow? Nah, you just need these tips!



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    Email Nikki@curlynikki.com by 5pm today!

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     By Kira Sparkles

    My razor needed new blades recently, but just my luck, they discontinued the kind I liked, meaning I was back on the market for a new one. I kept seeing ads on my Facebook and Instagram for the Dollar Shave Club and I have to admit that I was extremely tempted until I saw my friend post a video about safety razors.

    The safety razor is not a new concept at all. Think about old school barber shops with a single, straight blade. It doesn’t seem very safe, but this is 2018 and your grandpa’s razor has gotten a modern twist. But why consider one in the first place? Here are 3 reasons...

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    Do It For Your Wallet!
    A brief search online for a Venus razor with a disposable head will run you about $9 while the cartridges cost $18 for four. I can usually make that four-pack stretch for about two months which sets us at $27 JUST for the start up. Mind you, every time that you go to buy new razor cartridges, you’re out $18 every couple months.

    I bought my WEISHI safety razor on Amazon for $15. That’s the cheapest one I could find, but this includes five blades with it. So for the whole starter pack? $15. When it comes to refills when you finally run out of those five blades? You’re looking at $10… for 100 blades. You read that right. You’ll never have to worry about blades again. At least not for a good long while.

    Do it for the planet!
    The disposable razors you’re used to are made from a mix of materials that unfortunately can’t be recycled, meaning every time you throw away a razor head it goes straight into the trash which in turn sits in a landfill. Yuck. With a safety razor, you’re just dealing with metal. The only thing you need is an empty can or jar to store your old blades. When it’s full, give that to your recycling people so they don’t injure themselves. If you ever have to recycle the razor itself, that’s metal too. Everyone wins!

    Do it for you
    The biggest reason people have been raving about safety razors is because the blades last a hell of a lot longer and you’ll get the smoothest, closest shave of your life without razor bumps or ingrown hairs. I can attest they absolutely were not lying about this in the reviews! I even waited to write this article to make sure WITHOUT A DOUBT that no bumps popped up. Not even an ingrown hair. Plus, you stay smoother much, much longer.

    The only downside is that you really have to take your time. Where disposable razors are marketed with their long, sweeping strokes, safety razors work in small strokes. Plus, the head doesn’t pivot like some disposable ones will. Another small downside? Taking the razor out for the first time is intimidating as hell, but once you shave with it it’s just like any other razor. You just don’t have to apply as much pressure. Also, be generous with the shaving cream. Seriously.

    All in all, I've been super impressed with my upgrade!



                   Would you give safety razors a try or have you? Sound off!                          
     
     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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    Insecure
    By Mwabi Kaira

    I saw something watching Insecure the other night that we rarely get to see on the screen; the bad credit struggle. A whole scene was dedicated to it and Issa’s dreaded score was right there on display. Our favorite awkward girl’s score is 425. She’s gone to see her friend Kelli for some help getting her financial situation in order. Of the four friends in the Insecure circle, Issa seems to be having it the worst. Molly is a very successful lawyer climbing the ranks at her firm and ready to take her talents to firms with more money. She has a wardrobe to-die-for and an amazing apartment. She’s the goals we dreamed of watching Maxine Shaw and Joan Clayton do their thing. Kelli is a very successful accountant and Tiffany is the bougie wife with the bougie job that throws fabulous dinner parties and enjoys her best bougie life. Bottom line, all three friends can afford international trips, retail therapy not limited to Ross and TJ Maxx, and dinners at upscale restaurants without saving for them. Issa would need a payment plan.

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    Issa works for a non-profit and gets the starter salary that seems to be lasting for years with no raise in sight. She’s lost her apartment due to gentrification and higher rents and is sleeping on a couch. Even with no rent and saving, she is still struggling. Her credit score keeps getting her denied for all the apartments she’s applying for. She has come to see her girl Kelli to get her life on track and Kelli suggests either a co-signer or 4 months of rent paid up front; both things that Issa doesn’t have and can’t readily get.

    Issa’s story is not uncommon for many college graduates right now. Go to college and get your education they said. So you went. You’ll come out and make lots of money they said. They forgot to mention how difficult it is to get jobs in this market. The housing market is booming and you can’t turn a corner in any city without seeing a new apartment building being built. Rents are sky high to keep up with fancy amenities, but salaries aren’t rising with the rising rents. Add paying back student loans to the mix and the odds of having a perfect credit score, 4 months of savings in the bank, and the dream job just get worse.

    According to TransUnion 43% of millennials have bad credit. They report that 43% of borrowers ages 18 to 36 have a credit score of 600 or below on the 300-to-850 VantageScore scale. Recent research from OppLoans.com shows that 14% of Millennials say their “bad credit” is the reason why they have roommates, and 25% say that the same thing worked against “their chances of getting an apartment or a house.” Issa is not alone and is like many Americans still waiting for the tide to turn so they can afford grown up things. Let’s be clear, it's not just millennials either. Bad credit does not discriminate and there are many people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s with bad credit. Many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and it only takes an illness, accident, or a few missed checks to have your credit score drop. Watching Insecure as an adult reminds me of my struggle years entering the real world after college. The rent at my first apartment in 1997 was $345 a month and I think I made $11 an hour as a temp at a engineering testing lab. I bought an Acura Integra for $2500. I’d have maybe $20 in my pocket after bills each payday, but I felt so accomplished and grown doing it all on my own.



    Issa is not there yet but she will get there in due time and our girl is trying. We may not agree about whose couch she is sleeping on but she is saving and has picked up another job driving Lyft. She’s packing her lunch instead of eating out everyday. She’s making small strides. Eventually I got hired on full-time and got a salary that made more sense. Issa’s gonna get there too and look back fondly on the struggle years. Let’s just hope she keeps all her other bad decisions to a minimum until then.

    Insecure airs every Sunday on HBO at 10:30 PM EST.

    Do you know the struggle of bad credit? How did you get past it?
    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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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    After nearly a year in the making, Napturalitsta Moji (NM) has finally launched in the App Store and Google Play!


    If you remember, we did a story on this app not long ago because we couldn't wait for its launch! Well, the wait is over...if you're looking for a 3D Emoji Sticker app with tons of melanin'-poppin' skin tones, plenty of natural hairstyles, and facial expressions to-die-for, Napturalista Moji has you covered. This app was made for us by us and looking at the beauty of its execution, you know it's true.

    Eugenia Okafor, the creative director of the NM team states:
    “Black women/girls are too often relegated to the margins in conversations of beauty, desirability and worth. With Napturalista Moji we are bringing ‘Sistas' to the centerfold. We’ve carved out a digital space to affirm Black Women that is free from encroachment and appropriation. In short, we’re here to give credit where credit is due. We hope you’re here for it too. ” 
    We are here for it! You can download Napturalista Moji in the App Store and Google Play. Plus you can visit the Napturalistamoji.com website to buy Napturalista Moji-inspired merch like custom lapel pins, iron-on patches and their signature, satin-lined “Puff Caps” below!

    Will you be giving this a download?


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    Via TheShadeRoom
    By Veronica Wells

    Earlier this week, Michelle Williams had to let y’all know that even though she’s found a good man who is worthy of love and special attention and privileges, she has no intention of doing all the things outlined in Destiny Child’s hit song, “Cater 2 U.” I was with her. Even during my childhood, I could recognize that the song was a little too extreme. I mean in one of the lines Beyoncé literally says, “My life would be purposeless without you.” C’mon sis. It’s too much. I like to think of myself as a romantic and as a child, with no real world experience in love, music and particularly love songs were my peek, my gateway, my initial exposure to what love could and would be like. And to be honest, more than a few of them sold us some pipe dreams or toxic ideology about love, relationships, sex and dating. Check out just a few offenders below.

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    1. Nasty Girl- Destiny’s Child


    Nasty put some clothes on, I told ya

    Don't walk out your house without your clothes on, I told ya

    Girl what ya thinkin''bout lookin' that to' down, I told ya

    These men don't want no hot female

    That's been around the block female, you nasty girl

    Reading these lyrics in 2018, you would think a Hotep wrote them. Women can wear whatever they want. It shouldn’t absolve them from being treated with respect. Furthermore, the notion that men don’t want no “hot female” is one that has been proven false time and time again. Given the imaginary associated with Beyoncé’s career these days, I’m sure she wouldn’t stand by these lyrics anymore.

    2. Breathe Again - Toni Braxton


    If I never feel you in my arms again

    If I never feel your tender kiss again

    If I never hear "I love you" now and then

    Will I never make love to you once again?

    Please understand, if love ends

    Then I promise you, I promise you that

    That I shall never breathe again (breathe again, breathe again)

    That I shall never breathe again (breathe again)

    I get it. Breakups are hard. But this is not the approach you want to take in a.) trying to convince a man to take you back or b.) healing once the relationship is officially over. It’s incredibly desperate—which has never been attractive. And if the relationship is really over, it would be a good idea to keep breathing.

    3. You’re The One - SWV

    So what's my chance

    (I'm willing to do anything to get)

    In your pants

    (You don't have to worry, I won't)

    Say a thing

    (And if she finds out, I don't)

    Know nothing, oh no

    (No, no)

    In this year of our lord, there are still scads of women who believe that they are entitled or have the right to someone else’s man. Womp. This song certainly didn’t help matters. Ladies, this is not the move.

    4. Knocking The Boots- H Town

    Good lovin', body rockin', knockin' boots all night long, yeah

    Makin' love until we tire to the break of dawn

    But oh, come on, come on and turn the lights down, and let me get on it, yeah

    ‘Cause when I do, just me and you, it'll be so right

    A-give me some good love

    (Somebody rockin' knockin' da boots)

    Imagine my shock and surprise when my high school psychological teacher bursted my bubble by informing the class that sex didn’t generally last all night long, till the break of dawn. Mind blown. All the songs about sex had lied to me…in very egregious ways.

    5. Your Body’s Callin’- R. Kelly
    #MUTERKelly

    You see you don't have to say nothing

    Knowing your body wants something

    And it's easy for me to see

    That your body's callin' for me

    Honestly, we could do a whole list of rapey R. Kelly lyrics. And knowing what we know now, it’s clear that he meant every word. This is not a consent song. Men, who are terrible at reading non-verbal cues are quick to believe they know what a woman wants when it comes to sex…without her opening her mouth. Lies and deceit. You need to hear it from her to know you should proceed.

    6. Piece of My Love - Guy

    Baby, you can't have all of me

    'Cause I'm not totally free

    I can't tell you everything that's goin' on

    Baby

    There's a few things in my past

    That should not be explained

    I'm askin' you, baby

    Be with me for a lil' while (You can have a)

    Please hush

    No questions asked

    Lay back and relax, girl

    (I do love you, girl, it's true)

    Now, kick off your shoes

    Lift your pretty head, darling (it's waiting for you)

    Since we're here now, baby

    I'm givin' you a piece of me you can have

    My best friend and I were teenagers, folding laundry at my house when we realized this 90’s groove was about a no count man. Not only was he unavailable, he didn’t want her to ask any questions about it as he gave her the piece of him she could have. Naturally, there was something in it for him.

    7. Woman to Woman- Shirley Brown

    The clothes on his back

    Ha ha, I buy them

    The car he drives, I pay the note every month

    So I'm telling you these things

    To let you know how much I love that man

    And woman to woman

    I think you'll understand just how much I'll do to keep him

    I think the messiness of this song is no secret. We all knew it was all types of dysfunctional. Not only was Shirley supporting this grown ass man, he was also cheating on her. And instead of confronting him, putting him out of her home and cutting him off, she hopped on the phone to talk to the other woman. Nah.

    What R&B songs do you think sent the wrong message?
    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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    Kwaylon Rogers, Raynell Steward & Kaylen Allen
    By Brenda Alexander

    I often sit with friends and joke that we need to make an IG video that’ll get enough attention to secure us a spot on a reality show; or, at minimum a Fashionnova or Flat Tummy Tea endorsement. We may laugh, but deep down inside, I’m seriously considering it now that social media seems to be the fast track to making your entertainment dreams a reality.

    Before Bodak Yellow, Cardi B was a stripper who was loved for her dialect and way with ebonics (okurrrrrr). Mona Scott Young took notice and Cardi landed a prime spot on Love & Hip Hop NY before segwaying into rap royalty. This is what a large social following on IG, Twitter or YouTube can produce if managed properly.

    Nowadays, social influencers are ranking in major cash from various business deals, hostings, club appearances and even television and movie deals, with some being sought after before top actors and actresses. Here are 5 digital stars who are transferring their fame from the internet to the masses.

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    1. Jessica “Jess Hilarious Moore” 
    After The Shade Room re-posted her spot on impersonation of Love & Hip Hop’s Tara Wallace, Jess continued to attract national fans by posting satires of other reality show happenings. Soon, she began making her way around her hometown of Baltimore’s comedy club scene with open mic nights and gained traction on IG with a weekly segment she calls “Jess With the Mess,” a roundup of hot topics. When Nick Cannon called on her for an official spot on MTV’s Wild-N-Out, she jumped at the opportunity and hasn’t looked back. Since then, she has done stand up routines for All Def Comedy, performed in comedy clubs across country as part of her own tour and was recently cast in FOX’s comedy pilot Rel, replacing Angel Laketa Moore who had been originally cast in the role but was cut after the table read.


    2. Kwaylon “BlameItOnKway” Rogers 
    A post shared by BlameItOnKway (@blameitonkway) on 
    He went from being an Instagram personality to starring in a Fenty Beauty Ad as a brand ambassador. With over 3 million IG followers, the social media sensation has the gram in constant hysterics with his “TiTi” character, a classic around the way chick. He’s internationally known after being booked at Dubai Fashion Week. His TiTiMoji app went #1 in the IOS app store, he has a successful accessories line dedicated to the character and was crowned BET Social Awards Comedian of the Year. Recently, he met with Tyler Perry. Guess we’ll see him make a cameo in whatever Madea flick is premiering this fall.

    3. Raynell “Supa” Steward 
    This NOLA girl came out of nowhere, at least to me. A friend posted a video of her at a Popeyes drive thru where she warns us to stay away from the $5 box before she hilariously orders one. Her southern, deep drawl drew me in and I followed her immediately thinking she was just another rising IG comedian. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was instead a beauty mogul who happened to crack funny jokes. Supa is the CEO of The Crayon Case, who with the help of Instagram, went from being an amateur makeup artist to owning and operating a cosmetics empire right out of her hometown. Not only was her brand part of this year’s Essence Music Festival Beauty Pavillion, but she also was on a speaking panel with other beauty entrepreneurs. This former waitress now owns a million dollar beauty empire.

    4. Kalen Allen
    Everybody knows that once Ellen DeGeneres invites you onto her show as a guest and you are not a celebrity, you’re on your way to being one. That’s exactly what happened with Kansas City native Kalen Allen. As an internet food critic, he gained success for his comedic reactions to people’s recipes. After catching Ellen’s eye, she called him “the best new thing on the internet” and invited him on her show. That appearance alone earned him 6,000 new twitter followers within 24 hours. DeGeneres offered him an official deal and he’s now living in the City of Angels full-time working with the talk show maven. Not bad for a Temple University alum like myself (#TempleMade)!

    5. Andre “KendallKendyll” Kendall 
    Instagram’s favorite “bestfran,” the former Human Resources Associate from Michigan, built a following from reality television recaps from his couch. He gave hard core advice complete with a loud and infectious laugh. Kendall went from nightly television recaps to giving his 300k followers (at the time) skincare, cooking and dating tips, leading to millions of digital views. He set his eyes on landing a reality television talk show, launched an online merchandise line and migrated to LA where he now hosts red carpets and provides digital commentary for Viacom. His IG following has risen to over 1 million and he still finds the time to give us the raw recaps we yearn for.

    Do you have a favorite IG star? 
    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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    By Arah Iloabugichukwu

    I made it all the way from the Just For Me craze to the infamous wrap era without so much as a curling iron touching my head. Well, there was this one time for picture day in 5th grade that my mom decided to bless me with some Shirley temple curls. She made it about half through my mid-back kinks before throwing in the towel, tossing the entire middle section into a Bantu knot and sending me on my way. That 5th grade struggle photo, complete with Pebbles’ top knot, will forever encapsulate the relationship I have with my hair. Me in a constant state of “Really, Girl??” and my hair offering a boisterous “Really……period!” in return.

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    By Tiffy Kink

    When it comes to dating, I am a huge fan of three things: Openness, comfort, and communication. Openness, meaning nothing is off limits to talk about, comfort, meaning both parties in the relationship never feel as though they will be ostracized for having opinions that differ from the other party, and communication, being able to have an open-ended dialogue where we listen to one another not for the sole purpose of reacting to ones words but understanding them and asking one another to clarify ones point and hear each other out. While I do believe all three are encompassed in the word communication, I don’t believe that many people consciously apply openness and comfort into the dialogues they have with their partner.

    So what does all of this have to do with dating someone who is into feet? A damn lot, that’s what.

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    I’m always down for partaking in dialogues of the sexual nature when it’s appropriate. How you like it, when you like it, what position you like it in, past experiences, embarrassing sex stories, the greatest sex you had, the worst sex you had, and even fetishes. You see, I believe everyone has some type of sexual deviancy in them. They either haven’t found it yet, they choose to suppress it, or they proudly let their freak flags fly. I’m a pretty shy person myself so I really have to trust the person I get with to let them know the real me. Dig?

    So when I started dating this guy. We had talked for a couple of months and when things got sexual, we started talking more and more about sexual interest. We had somewhat similar kinks, putting together a mental will, won't, want list of things we would consider in the bedroom. Nothing too crazy. Until we started talking about fetishes and he mentioned feet. Now before I go any further, you have to understand that I have huge interest in how arousal and seeking pleasure varies from person to person. I just find it so interesting.

    So when he said he was into feet, I wasn’t disgusted or weirded out at all. I was admittedly perplexed yet excited. I started asking him when he knew he was into it. He said he had discovered the attraction as a kid. I was curious about what type of feet he liked and didn’t like. The conversation then turned to me, telling me that he liked my feet and thought they were hot. And before we go any further, yes he’s a brother, ladies. Fetishes are for all colors of the rainbow.

    I asked him if he had ever acted out his fetish with someone in the past and he said no. That’s when I was truly confused. Of course I asked him why, to which he responded, “You’re actually the first person I ever told this to. You’re the person I feel the most comfortable talking to about it.” The feeling was mutual, as I had told him a lot of things about myself sexually that I would never dream of telling anyone I wasn’t serious with. I think that’s what made it easier to be more accepting of the idea of him sucking on my toes, which I had never until this point thought about.

    Here’s the Montra: Of course, the first time we had sex, I wasn’t surprised when he brought it up, asking to suck on my recently manicured and clean toes. I will say that one thing I loved about him was that he always asked and never assumed that it was okay to try something new.

    As he was looking at my toes, I could tell he was getting aroused, kind of turning me on a little as well. Like I was reacting off of his energy. He was breathing heavily while rubbing my feet which actually felt pretty nice. When he started to suck on my toes however, that took an interesting turn. Feeling a wet tongue on my feet felt really good. I had seen this meme that said the only reason women entertain having their feet sucked is because “It makes y’all p*ssies tingle.” It was right. For some reason, all the licking and sucking he was doing was going straight to my nether regions, making me wet and ready for some action. You can read more about that in “True Story: The Best Sex I Ever Had Was an Unintentional Hook-Up.”

    As we continued to date, I didn’t mind entertaining my partner's foot fetish, however, I found that my acceptance of it would backfire on me at times. He suddenly would always need to see my feet while we were having sex, which meant I would often contort myself into awkward positions where my feet were visible. Of course, this was all upon request. But the requests were frequent. I found myself being okay with it as it challenged my body and made me realize that I was more flexible than I thought. It also made me realize that I need to work out more. These old bones aren’t what they used to be. If we did the same position where I would have to bend my leg a certain way, I would always have a crook in my leg the next day. Not fun.

    When we would hang out and I would have my feet out, I would be turning him on without realizing it. And it wasn’t because I assumed so. It was because he told me. I found myself making sure to keep my feet looking nice, even though they always did, because I enjoyed the unsolicited foot rubs I would receive whenever I went to his place. After telling me about his interest in feet, I asked him if he would ever consider working in a shoe store, to which he quickly said no because there would be too much stimulation around him.

    After we broke up, I kind of missed the extra attention my feet were getting, but never actively sought out guys who had an interest in feet. I met only one other guy who was into it, but it’s not a requirement. The biggest thing I got out of the experience was being able to give someone pure joy and pleasure in such a unique way, which I strive to do when I can, and within my own limits of course. This is probably the freakiest thing I have done to date. Now that I’m thinking about it, that actually makes me pretty boring. I’m okay with that.

    Have you ever tried something sexually you didn’t think you would like but then you did?
    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 and Instagram @Aquakink

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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Okay, this isn’t easy to write. I’m a woman and as such, age is one of those things we hate to talk about. Whether it’s grey hair, that dreaded menopause (we hate our periods, but having them stop to enter into the world of hot flashes is just criminal), or panties. Yes, panties. It was just recently that I looked in my panty drawer and discovered not a single thong or my once-beloved boy short, but plenty of granny panties. Grannies in colors like blue, pink and white, so soft… and though there was a time I wouldn’t be caught dead in a panty so big that it covers my whole butt with ease, now I wouldn’t be caught dead without it. Obviously, a part of me is okay with this change because it was me who bought them in the first place, still, no woman wants to knowingly turn into their mother. Does this mean I'm officially old?!

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    When I think about what I love about my new panty choice it’s been a gradual change centered around pure comfort. In my twenties, I modeled and wearing nude-colored thongs was essential on photo shoots because nothing could show. During my off-time I wore them depending on my outfit to get rid of panty lines, but they weren’t my first choice, though I had a few friends who also modeled and wore thongs 24/7. I could never really do it because I use the bathroom too much and having this string right in my crack continuously felt like torture. But boy did I love boy shorts! They came on the scene around the time of low-rider jeans and were perfect because they fell below the waist-line, yet still felt feminine and hip. After I had my babies they stopped making sense because I was bending over all day and my crack was always showing. I also gained some weight and they stopped covering my entire bum. That’s when grannies started looking a lot more attractive...one day I saw a 5-pack for less than $10 and it sounded like a hell of a good deal. I bought one, even though at first they seemed waaaayyy too big. They fit like a glove, and I realized I LOVE cotton, and now I won't wear anything else. But am I the only one? I mean, the girls on the package are all in their twenties?
     
    I text a friend in her mid-20’s at the risk of sounding like a real perv, and I ask her what type of panties she wears and why? The news is not what I expected...She says,
    "When I was younger, I wore regular panties (mainly the 5 for 25 from Victoria’s Secret). I never liked boy shorts because I found them uncomfortable and I was always small, they’d roll up under my clothing and it never looked good on me. Now, honestly, I opt out of wearing underwear unless my cycle is on obviously. I do this for several reasons 1. I like being free lol 2. It looks better aesthetically with your clothes (no panties lines etc) I wear a lot of dresses and skirts for work and going commando fits the style of clothing 3. I feel like panties trap my butt and alters its shape and I do a lot of squats and like to show it off in a tasteful way lol and 4. It’s just more comfortable for me. When I do wear underwear, I wear seamless thongs so that nothing shows through my clothing and it shapes everything well or I wear regular panties when I have to during that time of the month.”
    Okay, so now the young ones are saying f*ck it to panties altogether? I’m feeling as old as Methuselah. With the hope of finding a kindred spirit, I text just one more friend, Ta-ning, who enthusiastically tells me to call her. She goes,
    "Girl, you don’t even know. I was just on a plane and was praying that I didn’t get stopped for an inspection because my panties look horrendous. Not only do I wear granny panties, but I cut off the elastic so I can have comfort with a smooth silhouette. I want the g-string look without the g-string…I’d rather get busted with drugs than these panties!"
    She went on to explain that not only is she afraid that she’s turning into her grandmother, because it was only a few short years ago that her mom had to tell her to stop wearing granny scarves outside, she also wonders what part her panties will play when she starts dating…
    “Girl, I've been role-playing it out in my mind where I put it all on the table and tell him about my panties so he can decide right then if he wants to stay or not!"
    I get it. If he’s looking for a g-string-wearing diva straight out of a music video or a Vicky Secret catalog, she ain’t the one. We both breathe a sigh of relief, thankful to not be the only ones.

    In all, maybe the graduation to granny panties is really about getting older and what we’re willing to compromise. I know I could care less about a panty line today, but I still color my greys. In the end, it’s about choosing what’s best for us, no matter what age, or how old or un-hip it makes us appear.

    In your panty choice about comfort, aesthetics or both? 
    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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    Photo via The Hollywood Reporter 
    By Ta-Ning Connai 

    Spike Lee has done it again! He’s made a movie that has pissed some people off. The man who garnered iconic status for his thought-provoking, in your face, knock you upside your head black conscious projects back in the early 80s to late 90s has not deviated from his brand of cinematic flavor, all of which has always made him a source of irritation for the Hollywood film industry.

    Well, now Lee is back with his film BlacKKKlansman (produced by Jordan Peele), but this time around, it’s quite a few black folk that are irritated and extremely bothered by what they feel is a way too gentle approach to his signature storytelling. From Do The Right Thing, to Malcolm X to School Daze and more, you could always expect to leave “A Spike Lee Joint” fired up and ready to justifiably slap a white jerk in the face, but instead be inspired to “fight the powers that be” without lifting one little finger. BlackKKKlansman didn't do that for a good amount of black critics, including some really disappointed black fans. Yet, white film critics, and both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals are all giving it a thumbs up. What's that about?

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    Spike Lee & John David Washington 
    BlacKKKlansman was based on a true story. “Based" typically indicates that there is freedom and discretion for the filmmaker to adapt a true story, using his own better judgement in order to incorporate some creative embellishments that move the main point along in a captivating way. Personally, I think Lee filled those empty spaces brilliantly. He told the story about a black undercover cop named Ron Stallworth (played by Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington) who infiltrated the KKK with the help of his white partner back in the 70s. True story. He also infused some very obvious, yet subtle similarities between the times of old (from slavery, lynchings and racist leadership) to the Trump presidency, its jacked up administration, and the reality that not much has changed in the America that was not so great in the first place. Another true story. And even though managing to merge two separate truths from two separate time zones into a 2-hour movie is a humongous undertaking, Spike Lee did it with flying colors! However, none of that stopped his mini-me wanna-be Sorry to Bother You director, Boots Riley, from complaining that he should've not only stuck to script, but should've given a harsher portrayal of police injustice and systemic racism. Sooooo, showing actual pictures of real lynchings and burnings of black people ain’t “harsh" enough?...Clearly pinpointing how such brutality is based upon baseless stereotypes and ignorance that is beyond embarrassing for white racists is “way too soft"...and Harry Belafonte's detailed account of seeing his teenage friend tortured to death left you feeling warm and fuzzy all over? Look Boots, even the Gospel of Jesus Christ was told from four different perspectives, highlighting what each disciple CHOSE to emphasize. Yet none of them failed to establish the consistencies that mattered most; that God was real and Jesus was His Son. Spike too, chose what he wanted to emphasize, all while establishing the consistencies that mattered most; that racism was real and that Trump was the modern-day David Duke, the KKK’s puppet of choice. No, it doesn't have the guns blazing, murderous fantasies of Django or anything like that, but BlacKKKlansman does manage to leave a really bad taste in one’s mouth, even after laughing at the movie's plot twist. Mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned.

    The Apostle Paul had to put Peter on blast that one time he rolled into town (Galatians 2:11-21). ‘Cause Paul got a glimpse of some racist nonsense and he wasn't about to let it go down. See, Peter conjured up in his own cocky mind that being born a Jew made him privileged. And being called to follow Jesus only cemented his wacky claim, since Jesus was Jewish too. Now, Peter was chosen to lead Gentiles to Christ, but he considered them very low class. So Peter was like, “Aaaaiiiight Jesus, whatever you say, but I won't be fraternizing, uh uh no way!” Only on certain occasions would he sit with them after he preached, and when his homies came around, he’d start frontin’ and leave. So that's when Paul had had enough, and he went over to Peter like, “Yo, what's up?!” Sadly, Peter's issue still popped up now and then, but he knew not to pull that crap around Paul ever again!

    Clearly racism is something that goes way back and is an evil that has to be confronted. But no one can say our way won't work and we shouldn't judge someone else's effort either. Instead, let's just keep the fact in mind that we all have a role to play, and whether it's through movies, a book, a speech or a play, we all have something valuable to say.

    When it comes to fighting racism is there more than one way to skin a cat?
    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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    Photo Courtesy of WE TV
    By Brenda Alexander

    Nothing irritates me more than seeing black kinfolk treating each other like enemies on any public space while we and non-coloreds (i.e. white people) sit and consume their familial drama for entertainment. We have enough outsiders preying on our downfall for us to partake in the mess, especially publically. Unfortunately, this has become the case for my beloved Braxton family.

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    I’ve been a stan since the show premiered on WeTV in 2011. Five black sisters who were beautiful, had solid bonds and who could all sing...I thought to myself, this is the second, female, coming of the Jackson 5! Or at minimum, they were the Kardashians but WITH talent. It was refreshing to see a successful black family on television that displayed positivity. But, all good things come to an end.

    Any BFV fan will tell you that there have always been internal issues. Their parents split after over three decades of marriage as a result of their philandering pastoral father’s ways. It was discovered later that the girl's broken home, despite them being adults when their parents divorced, led to issues amongst them.

    Toni has been vocal about feeling as if she’s always had to share her successes with her equally talented sisters out of guilt that she was chosen by LaFace over them. Traci was often treated as an outcast from the rest of the sisters. She became pregnant when they were due to sign a record contract and her sisters went on without her, leaving her bitter and resentful for not being able to fulfill her dream as a singer with her family. Towanda, Trina and Tamar released music as a trio sans Traci, but that was short-lived due to what they felt were mediocre songs and marketing, with record labels not knowing what to do with the sisters of a megastar and in-fighting between the sisters. Tamar went solo and it wasn’t until the reality show that all 5 of them worked on any type of project together, on or off stage.

    What’s perceived as the downfall of The Braxton’s has been a long time coming. Since season 1, we’ve watched the sisters fight and argue and whether they want to admit it or not, all of their issues are magnified when it included any type of creative endeavor, as a collective or individually. It took 6 years after trying and failing dozens of times to produce a Braxton album and even then, it wasn’t in the form that fans expected. Instead, we received an 8-track Christmas album, mainly featuring the vocals of Trina, Towanda and Toni and only two with all five because of scheduling conflicts and attitudes. There was an issue when Tamar accepted a spin-off with her husband, which according to the sisters, she was not forthcoming about. They haven’t always supported each other’s careers, most notably Traci, who was kicked off of Toni’s latest tour- which many suspect Tamar, who was also on the roster, had a say in. And let’s not forget about the time when Tamar allegedly threw her sisters and mother out of a venue after she was pissed that her sisters joined her on stage. They stay in each other’s marital and relationship business, secretly hated one sisters husband and spilled all the tea once things came to a head, downgrade each other’s business ventures, and separate into sub-cliques when the majority are on the outs with another.

    You have to remember we are dealing with sisters here, not a random ensemble cast that were put together for the sake of a show. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses and play off of such when fighting. I’m sure words they spew at one another cut deeper than a social media thug/outsider. In the first two seasons, the fighting was tolerable; but, its escalated to the point of no return.

    Just recently, filming came to a halt after the sisters, with the exception of Traci, decided to boycott because of pay disputes. This spilled over to the gram after the others, most notably Tamar, disapproved of her decision to continue to work.

    Say what you want about the Kardashians, but they put on a united front. Despite the magnitude of hate thrown their way, they have yet to turn on one another. Take the whole Rob and Blac Chyna fiasco. When the relationship ended, due to loyalty and respect for her brother, Kim has made it a point to never speak ill of Chyna or any other sibling’s significant other as children are involved. I need the Braxtons to take notes.

    You would think therapy would be a valuable resource, but that’s worked to no avail. They over-talked Dr. Sherry for the first 4 seasons and even God’s own disciple Bishop TD Jakes could only do so much healing. The simple answer would be to turn the cameras off until they did the work to save their family. But, they have opted out of doing so. It’s been reported that they have called on Iyanla Vanzant for her help and they are scheduled to appear on an episode of Fix My Life. If Iyanla’s methods of laying her client’s heads in her big bosoms and grabbing them by the hands while she endearingly calls them beloved and forces them to face their truths doesn’t work, then I don’t know what will. Because if we can’t get back to the Braxtons who harmonized on que at the snap of a finger, the fun shade they gave each other and even Tamar’s outlandishness (at minimal), then cancel the damn show.

     What do you think about The Braxtons family drama?
    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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    Image Credit: Angie Polus (Moore's mom)
    By Winnie Gaturu

    According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the second largest killer in the world with millions of deaths being reported per year. The sad thing is that the disease affects both the young and old. Although it can be treated, especially when detected in its early stages, most types of treatment tend to take a toll on the patient. Perhaps one of the most known side effects of cancer treatment is hair loss which is mainly attributed to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. To most people, hair is an important part of their identity, so hair loss due to cancer treatment is devastating, especially to young kids.

    This brings us to the story of Thomas Moore. When he was 8 years old he found his mother watching a video of a little girl losing her hair during chemotherapy. His mom went on to explain to him that the 5-year-old girl, Kyssi Andrew, was suffering from cancer and the treatment was responsible for her hair loss. At that moment, Moore was inspired to do something about it. He told his mother that he would grow out his hair and give it to Kyssi.

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    Image Credit: Angie Polus (Moore's mom)
    For the next two years and five months, Moore grew out his hair until he was happy with the length and had it cut. Growing it out, was not a smooth ride. For instance, he had to deal with his hair getting stuck to bushes while playing, and as a young boy with long hair, he definitely received some unworthy stares from time-to-time, not to mention the hair-care involved. Once Moore's hair was cut, his aunt Amber shared a picture of him on twitter. So far, it has been retweeted over 57k times and liked over 114k times. Unfortunately, by that time, Kyssi had already lost her battle with cancer. She passed away in June 2015. However, his efforts weren't futile since his hair ended up being enough for three sick kids to receive wigs. So instead of helping one kid, he ended up helping three. Kyssi's mom was also happy about what Moore had done for her daughter and even posted a message on Facebook.

    As another added bonus, for his selfless act, Moore received an Act of Kindness Award in October 2016, given to him by retired NBA player Derek Anderson's foundation, Stamina.

    Image Credit: Angie Polus (Moore's mom)
    Moore's simple act of selflessness and compassion has since touched the hearts of many. He chose to offer what was within his capacity and it made a difference. This only proves that simple acts of kindness can go a long way. On this note, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4% of national funds are allocated to childhood cancer research. Maybe you can make a difference by making a donation at Cure Childhood Cancer. Remember, all it takes is a small act of kindness and you'll definitely touch the life of one child or more, just like Thomas Moore.

    What are your thoughts about Moore's simple act of kindness?
     https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnsMSFjLFNw/We9aV3iBeiI/AAAAAAAADII/F9HbMPX6PfYe6aCJqc-eDi3Wgmu41YE4wCLcBGAs/s1600/Winnie%2BG..jpg
    Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her.

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    By Sonya Eskridge

    Among the pages and pages of Instawisdom and motivational pics on the gram is an oft-replicated adage that advises, “Make sure everyone in your boat is rowing and not drilling holes.” To me, this is a shoutout to all the people on social media with shifty friends in their circle. Having been through a few toxic friendships, this spoke to the core of my spirit. How’s a girl supposed to unwind with her friends when she’s not sure she can trust everyone in her orbit? Looking back over my life, I’m astounded at the number of people who I thought were friends but were actually enemies in disguise. Sometimes it's hard to spot them in the moment, but there are red flags to watch out for.

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    CocoaBrownCurlsXo
    By Tabitha A. Wiggins 

    It’s another Saturday night in and I’m about to start my normal weekend routine of laundry, food shopping, and of course…wash day. For over the past 7 years I have proudly navigated my natural hair journey. I have gone years at a time without applying heat. I have had moments of being a strict follower of the Curly Girl Method.  I have washed and styled and washed some more. My journey has certainly been my own, and I have truly embraced all things “natural” about my curls. Well, all things except for the ever so noticeable silver streaks no longer sporadically placed upon my head.


    As I think back to a younger, less stressed, and certainly less tired me, I cannot think of a time when my tresses weren’t sprinkled with a grey hair or two. Even as a little girl, I was always flattered when adults would say things like “Oh, I see you have a few grey hairs! You must be so smart!” or “I see your wisdom streak.” My two or three grey hairs growing from my temple became a stripe of honor. I felt proud, wise, and unique. As I continued to grow into my teenage years, my long waist-length straight natural hair cascaded down my back. My streak of silky grey strands always flowed and stayed neatly tucked behind my ear. I never felt ashamed or the need to hide my silver truth. I seemed to get positive reactions and attention. Then in my mid-twenties….I went NATURAL NATURAL.

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    Gone were the days of my waist-length hair. Now I found myself trying to embrace my curl pattern and learning to accept the love/hate relationship I was having with shrinkage. My grey hairs no longer had their silky sleek appearance but were now coiled and unruly. Instead of a stripe of honor they now felt more like an eye sore! What started as two to three strands quickly multiplied into an entire army of salt and pepper protestors. It seemed as if every time I experienced a major life event, or even stubbed my toe too hard, a new grey hair would pop up. Whereas they were all once strategically placed at the front center of my head I began to see them pop up on both the right and left temple. There were greys in the center, grey hair near my ears, grey hairs in my kitchen, grey hair EVERYWHERE! How could this be? I had yet to reach my thirties, however my hair seemed more like I was age appropriate for a mid-life crisis.  I began to draw more and more attention and to me the comments seemed less flattering. Now I heard remarks such as “Oh girl, is that grey I see?” and “Oh honey, you’re so young to have all that grey.” To my surprise, even those who grew up with me would often say, “Did you always have that grey hair?” as if having straight grey hair was acceptable but now that it’s coily grey hair they don’t remember ever complimenting it. Talk about quick shots to my ego!


    CocoaBrownCurlsXo
    At this point in my natural hair journey, I was only accepting using a flat iron roughly 2-3 times per year. As it became harder to embrace the multiplying grey I found myself applying heat more often and thus causing major damage to my hair cuticle. When seeing an abundance of long silky grey hair was no longer keeping me sane I unfortunately took matters into my own hands. I discovered my ability to apply box color! Insert horrifying screams and sighs of disappointment. Yes curlfriends, I became that girl that naively applied box color to my tresses every few weeks because now that I was presenting myself to the world with this perfect shade of Clairol Natural Instincts Black Midnight #2 there was NO WAY I could be seen as that old tired grey streaked girl again right?! Box after box I slowly began to ruin my curl pattern for the sake of vanity. I found myself frustrated with my now damaged hair but too ashamed of my grey to stop applying color. My grey hair was no longer viewed as cute, or signs of earned wisdom. I associated the grey to the exhaustion of being a wife, a mother, a full-time corporate healthcare worker, friend, sister, daughter. I thought as each grey showed itself this was a sign to the rest of the world that I wasn’t handling being an adult very well.


    As I dove deep into building my social media influence my insecurity about my grey strands had only increased. Day after day, I saw myself scrolling past and supporting other curly girls my age and even older who were yet to show any signs of grey. I felt very out of place and even more so like I wasn’t aging gracefully. I began to compare my overall beauty and base it partially on my hair color. Although my husband compliments me all the time, my marriage became affected in the sense that I struggled with feeling attractive despite his reassurance that I am beautiful, grey hair and all. It wasn’t until I began to search for other curly girls that I could relate to that I began to ease up on myself. Natural hair blogger Naptural85 was someone I found the most relatable to my own journey. She is young, she is a wife, she is a mother of now two, she is absolutely gorgeous, and she too has a streak of grey hair in the same spot as me. As time went on I realized her hair is sprinkled with grey strands, and although she has various YouTube tutorials dying her hair, her motive to dye never seemed to be fueled by lack of confidence due to her grey strands. The more I watched Naptural85 the more I realized I needed to include more silver strands in my newsfeed. I began to follow Gabrielle Bass,Naturalsilversista, and MzCurlyRizos just to name a few. My confidence began to slowly rise.

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    I realized I had two choices. I could either continue dying my hair and accept the struggle and potential damage that came with that decision, or I could change my perspective on what it means to age gracefully. Since a major key to my natural hair journey is happy healthy hair, I chose the latter. Instead of viewing each new grey strand as a sign that I’m failing to handle the stresses of adulthood, I began to embrace the reality that God has given me yet another day and a step closer to a head full of salt and pepper curls. I had to remind myself of how beautiful all women with salt and pepper hair are! A head full of silver is a sign that they have lived a potentially long and full life filled with amazing stories of love and wisdom. How was it that I have always shown so much respect for women like this, yet I took it as a flaw in myself? As I always say, this journey for me tends to be about more than just hair. Greying at an early age opened my eyes to the fact that although I am a confident woman, I still have some ways to go with truly loving all of myself.

    Through it all, seeing other women embrace their grey strands has certainly helped me to not be as anxious about going grey at such an early age. Not only do I want to continue to grow in my confidence, but I also want to open the conversation about my struggles with other women. Now, this is not to say that I don’t still have my moments. Yes, I’ve personally chosen not to alter my hair color, but there are certainly days that I feel overwhelmed and find myself trying different hairstyles that will hide most of the grey. I no longer want to feel a sense of shame tied to the color of my hair but instead I want to embrace how this makes me unique. Not only will opening the discussion to other women let them know that they are not alone, but it will also help me to continue to embrace my now natural GREY hair journey. So, cheers to getting older, wiser, and greying gracefully.

    Is greying gracefully an issue for you?
    Follow Tabitha A. Wiggins at www.cocoabrowncurlsxo.com

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