“Can I Touch Your Hair?” A Black Girl in Siloam Springs and a Moment of Racial Reconciliation.

My God sister, Macenna, is beautiful. We were both raised similarly. We learned that our kinky/curly hair was ugly. We grew up in Sand Springs, Oklahoma in the Charles Page Family Village.  I can recall fond memories of Macenna’s hair. I was in junior high. I knew how to braid. I would come over to Macenna’s house. She would sit between my knees and I would grease her scalp, comb through her hair, and twist and braid. Macenna and I were both born to White mothers and Black fathers. Macenna’s hair is kinky and coarse and mine is coarse in some spots, but mostly smooth spirals. Both of our hair textures are “ethnic.” Macenna would cry and wail, “I HATE MY HAIR!” Her hair was relaxed, a style she knew from a very young age.

One day, during Macenna’s senior year, I showed her Around The Way Curls. “Please stop relaxing your hair, I begged!” I clicked through every blog post of Shanti and Antoinette.  Look how beautiful their hair is, OUR hair is! Will you just try it, please?

Macenna agreed and I  helped her purchase a starter kit from Carol’s Daughters. I sent her home praying she would give it a try and break her addiction to the creamy crack.

She stuck with it and her hair grew to reveal a beautiful afro. Her natural cinnamon and chocolate toned hair is amazing. She is natural and won’t go back.

Macenna

Today we shopped in downtown Siloam Springs. Siloam Springs, for those who don’t know, is not a place where you might be able to see a lot of Black women with natural hair styles. There is gentrification to the max and diversity isn’t something we can claim. So when we landed on the topic of hair in one of the local vintage shops, Amandromeda, I was more than a little nervous.  I’ve sat through uncomfortable conversations with well meaning white women  in Siloam saying they wished they had a “ghetto booty” like me. I’ve fielded questions from white stylists “why do you have this nappy section around your forehead”. They all, of course, claim not to be racist… but we all know these kind of ignorant statements are latent racism. I’ve typically not said too much. I figure people aren’t looking for me to educate them. With my nose piercing, arm full of tattoos, and outspoken stances of feminism and sexuality I do well enough to not be verbally accosted without adding race to the table.

Macenna and I talked about hair wraps as Amanda Orcutt, the owner of Amandromeda, sat behind the desk. Amanda grinned and joined our conversation. “What does your hair look like without the bandana, what shape is it?” Macenna took off her bandana and happily showed off her beautiful afro. She pulled up images on Facebook. “Here is my hair after a deep condition and braids.” Amanda gushed, “Oh my! It is sooooo beautiful.” She paused then proceeded: “Is it okay if I can touch it?”  Macenna’s smile grew wider and she leaned in as Amanda walked around the counter. Amanda pawed at Macenna’s hair. “I just love it” she exclaimed.  I told Amanda about Macenna’s hair evolution and how it was a struggle to  embrace our natural hair. She scrunched her wild mix of curly and straight hair. “Me too”, she said, “I used to flatiron my hair and I am trying to be okay with how it is naturally.”

This is racial reconciliation.

Amanda saw the race line and she stepped over it. She fearlessly asked to experience Macenna’s hair, appreciated it, and then connected herself to two Black women by letting us know that her White natural hair was hard to embrace as well. We reconcile ourselves to each other when we honor our differences AND express empathy for shared existences.

A black girl visiting Arkansas, in a town where you can barely find a product to care for her coif, encountered a beautiful act acceptance in the heart of Siloam Springs. Thanks Amanda Orcutt what you did today was brave and beautiful.

 

Announcing the Winners of #AWBU13 Scholarship!

I’ve read through all of the applicants, their blogs, their “about me” pages in order to pick a winner for Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged 13. It was a tough choice. Some of my favorite people applied!! I was all daaaaaaamn. I couldn’t play favorites. The women I chose this year, I hope, will use what they learn at #AWBU13 to grow and improve their blogs. Ladies, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, and to make friends. My best advice is to not take TOO seriously “the experts” in any area of life. Your blogs are beautiful and headed in the right direction. With some extra pizzaz (yes, I used that word!) your blogs could be  EPIC. AWBU is a great place to learn how to launch yourself into EPIC status.

Check out Oh By Golly, one of my favorite Arkansas Women Bloggers. THIS GIRL KNOWS EPIC

Congrats to the winners! I hope AWBU 13 is all you hope it will be. I just might see you there!

Small Town Mojo Blog

The Rosy Life Blog

JustJasmineBlog Scholarship Giveaway: Attend Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged 13 on ME

My grandmother taught me some amazing lessons. Some of those lessons included developing  a love for good Canadian Whiskey, swearing, and smoking. I never took up on the swearing. I’m such a damn liar.

I don’t smoke. Never have.

One the of most amazing lessons the matriarch of my family taught me is that we help others when we have the power to. Sometimes we help them even when we don’t have the power, because we work hard to find it or we band together. She taught me “give it back”. When someone has loved you well, when someone has invested to you… you give it back to someone  else. This kind of fundamental good keeps the world balanced.  This lesson took root in my heart and has been firmly planted. What has been beautiful is how I’ve been able to see the fruit of how other’s have given to me blossom as other’s give because they were given to.

 

When I met Stephanie Buckley I heard my grandmother’s voice. Stephanie is the founder of Arkansas Women Bloggers

AWBU

 

She is also a wrestler.

She is the kind of wrestler that grapples with her own preconceived notions, she fights down belief patterns and faces herself in order to wake up every day trying to believe the best about people… to see their goodness. I saw this in her the moment I met her and we connected. This is, in part, because of her faith but I also believe this is how Stephanie was designed. She is a rare soul. When I met Stephanie Buckley I heard my grandmother’s voice. She uses the word darlin’, just like my grandma did and has an affection for things other people sometimes find it hard to appreciate, antiques and unusual people. She is one of those “trash to treasure” gals and probably has a hard time throwing things away because she can always envision future usefulness. Stephanie embraced me from the moment she met me. It makes sense- I have tattered edges, but I am very valuable.

I attended Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged for the first time because I was given a scholarship. I was pregnant and had a great time being outlandish. I met Heidi who became one of my very best friends. I didn’t learn a lot about blogging, but I did learn a lot about myself, which lead to better blogging. After that I knew I wanted to afford other women the same opportunity I was afforded. Last year I gave away a scholarship anonymously and was able to see how the women I gave it to grew and flourished. Because that is what people do who meet Stephanie- they grow and flourish.  This year I am giving away two more scholarships.  Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged style isn’t for everyone, but Stephanie welcomes anyone. I hope that makes sense. Intentions matter.

On the less spiritual side, If you attend AWBU 13, you will learn about how to blog as a business, about social media engagement, and about how to work with brands. This is a conference that really supports beginners and intermediate bloggers and helps push their skills to the next level.  AWBU has grown, improved, and has become competitive with many conferences on quality and best conference environment. It also happens to be filled with mostly excellent ( I am a realist, y’all) women. Make friends with them, listen and learn… you never know when you might leave with a business partner or best friend.

As for Stephanie Buckley? Give her a hug, let her smile at you and darlin’ you all she wants. Drink in her kindness and be thankful that their are terribly brave and kind people like her in the world.

Are you interested in attending AWBU 13, but finances are a factor? Fill out the form below to be considered for scholarship. Two winners will be chosen and announced NEXT WEEK

A Weekend Full of Derby and Watching Flowers Bloom

This weekend I went to Midwest DerbyFest to watch the  NWA All Stars play. When I first started playing roller derby I was taken aback by the sheer power that women in the sport possessed. There is something about knowing when the whistle sounds you are going to take a brutal pummeling, and doing it anyway. Maybe some of it is part masochism, but I believe more of it lies in the space where women are beginning to own their power. That whistle sounds and you know you’ve got work to do. Jammer or Blocker assignment doesn’t matter. When that whistle sounds you have three fights:

The first fight is against your body. You force it to stretch and push and contort into positions that don’t seem plausible as you zip around a track packed together with 9 other bodies. The second battle is with your opponents. You both are bearing down on the same goal. “Stop that Jammer”. When two titans meet, only one can walk away.

The third fight is by far the hardest. The third fight is against yourself. Your mind wrestles to fight or flight, the fear that pain is coming.

The fear that you won’t be good enough.

The fear that someone will see your weakness

The fear you will get hurt

The fear you. will. fail.

And each time I watch or play derby I marvel at the small moments. If you watch closely at the eyes of the women who play, each time their bodies do what their minds were afraid they couldn’t do they bloom. It seems like a confusing juxtaposition to create the imagery of flowers blooming in the midst of the sweaty, stinky, and bellicose pack… but it is completely fitting. Women bloom like flowers on the track. They own their power. They plant themselves in the fertile ground that is derby .

We  bloom each time we break free from a pack.

We bloom each time we hold that opponent back one more second.

We bloom when we join with our teammates and see an objective to completion.

We bloom each time we face down ourselves and say, “I am afraid, but I will do it anyway.”

If you ever have a chance to watch roller derby, do this: Strain your eyes passed the booty shorts, tights, and aggression that can sometimes look like a discombobulated pointless endeavor.

Lean in and strain your eyes and look closely. You’ll see flowers blooming and even, maybe, poetry being written.

 

CONGRATS NWARD ALL STARS! I AM SO PROUD TO BE A PART OF YOUR LEAGUE!

Northwest Arkansas All Stars

NWA All Stars at Midwest DerbyFest