Archive for August, 2009
I was walking down the hall of my high school with a friend who happened to be African-American.
“How was your weekend?” I asked.
“Fine. I got my hair permed. Did some homework. Hung out.”
I looked at her hair. It wasn’t curly.
“Your hair’s not curly.”
Tiffany could tell I was totally confused. “Perms on black people don’t make their hair curly, Rosie. Perms make our hair straight.”
Years later, I would watch my African American girlfriends in college go through it with their hair. And, now, with an African son, we are even more privy to black hair culture.
“Oh, your baby has that good hair,” the women on my street will tell me.
Hair. We talk about good hair and bad hair.We talk about good hair days and bad hair days. It can affect our body image. It can affect our sense of self. We could be beautiful if only… our hair were straight, curly, longer, shorter, thicker, thinner, blonder, darker. You get the picture. Hair. It’s a whole thing. And, now, there’s a whole documentary dedicated to the chase of the perfect ‘do.
When Chris Rock’s daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” the comic committed himself to search the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl’s head. Director Jeff Stilson’s camera followed the funnyman, and the result is Good Hair, a wonderfully insightful and entertaining, yet remarkably serious, documentary about African American hair culture. Good Hair visits hair salons and styling battles, scientific laboratories, and Indian temples to explore the way black hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people. Celebrities such as Ice-T, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symoné, Maya Angelou, and Reverend Al Sharpton all candidly offer their stories and observations to Rock while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter’s question. What he discovers is that black hair is a big business that doesn’t always benefit the black community and little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside.
A few weeks ago, the cover to SELF magazine’s September issue made headlines because it featured a picture of Kelly Clarkson that had been doctored. Ironically, the tag lines around the picture said “Kelly Clarkson: Stay True to You and Everyone Else Will Love You, Too.” Well, they might love you, but they’ll still airbrush your picture is the message I guess SELF (whose magazine tag line is You at Your Best) was saying. You can read Lucy Danzinger’s (the Editor of SELF) blog entry about their decision here.
Meanwhile, over at Glamour, this photo got readers clamoring. Found on page 194 of the September issue, this shot catches model Lizzie Miller flaunting her body as part of a spread called What Everyone But You Sees About Your Body– a piece on mustering up the body confidence every woman should have.
This photo elicited so much reaction that the editor, Cinci Leive, posted her own blog entry about it.
What I love? That the magazines are getting feedback on their choices– feedback that will hopefully inform their future decisions about whether or not to airbrush, how to broaden the messages they give to women and the messages they relay about women, etc. If we choose to be consumers of media, we should be active consumers, giving feedback as to what works and what doesn’t work and voting with our dollars to applaud one’s efforts or withdrawing our support by not purchasing a product that sends a negative message. It is only when WE express ourselves and exercise our power as consumers that those who release images and ideas about women can truly learn whether or not their messages are on target or need to be modified. I am not nearly as plugged into social media as one can be, but I know that all these magazines are set up on Twitter, Facebook, and have comment features on their web-sites for us to have easier access to expressing our opinion. Now, we just need to assert ourselves and send our own messages about what we’be buying- literally and figuratively- from the messages they are sending.
Here is my September – November 2009 workshop schedule. All of these workshops will be offered at the Warehouse PAC in Cornelius, North Carolina. You are welcome to sign up for the workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Writing Your Life
September 8, 2009
7:30 pm – 9 pm
Self-reflection gives us a much needed pause. It allows us a moment of inquiry, a moment to identify desire and potential. Generating awareness and then moving to personal solutions takes time and thought, brainstorming and checking in, enough repetition to want to change our choices and build a new habit, and the knowledge of why this habit will be good for us when we want to revert. Journaling predisposes us to a more successful embrace of our self and our choices. In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of journaling and will actively engage in a range of journaling tools and practices.
The Art of the Personal Essay;
Thursdays, September 3 – September 24
10:30 am -12 pm
The Art of the Personal Essay is a four week workshop that allows the participant to discuss the art of personal essay writing, explore memoir and essay writing elements, complete several essays, receive feedback on their writing, and begin revising their pieces.
The Art of the Personal Essay II
Thursdays, October 8-29
10:30 am – 12 pm
The Art of the Personal Essay II class is a four week follow-up workshop to The Art of the Personal Essay. Participants will continue to hone their essay writing craft while receiving feedback and instruction.
Discovering Your Belief
October 27, 2009
7:30 pm – 9 pm
“This I Believe” is a popular NPR series that invites everyday people to share a brief essay on something they absolutely believe to be true. From the simple to the profound, essayists selected by NPR share their beliefs in radio spots aired locally and nationally. In this workshop, participants will begin brainstorming and drafting a This I Believe statement that they may wish to complete and submit to NPR on their own for consideration.
Tuesdays, November 3-24
11 am – 12 pm
This four week workshop immerses the participant in building his or her reflection and journaling practice through in class exercises.
Could that video be any cuter? It makes me want to do a year of baby in action photos for his second trip around the sun although I doubt I am disciplined enough to do every single day. I’m going to try though. It may end up being 52 weeks of baby (I’m just saying). Here are two of my favorites from Day 1 of Trip 2 around the sun.
Joy is a gift that should not be wasted…
When it came time to discuss baby’s first birthday, BF and I were of a single mind. No big bash. Instead, we wanted to keep it simple (which is, to be honest, always our goal). A meal, we thought. Family, we thought. And just our general joy as the offering, as the gift.
Baby’s birthday is today, but we started the birthday celebration this past Sunday with BF’s family and a meal on our back deck (my family will come this Saturday. We can’t fit both families on our back deck and baby can’t take quite that many people at once). We had cake. We did lots of looking at baby and playing to his smiles– some clapping here, some table slapping there. We just enjoyed baby and each other. It was perfect– down to the low humidity and temperature day and the root beers in the ice bucket.
Today, we will stop our work days to enjoy baby all day. To marvel at his one year of life and, as of today, our seven months as a family. We will do baby’s favorite things- pet animals, play in the water, swing. We will, the three of us, just savor being a family. We will soak up our day, not wasting one ounce of our joy.
If you are a close watcher of the blog (and, really, who is?), then you might notice some dicey calendar work in the upcoming days. You see on August 22, 2009, we celebrated our learning about our baby boy and beginning the journey to become a family. And on August 26, 2009, we will be celebrating baby’s first birthday. Yep, we were matched with baby before his legal birthday. Crazy, eh?
Here’s the deal. We were matched with baby pretty soon after his birth. How soon is a little bit of a question, but we do know that baby was alive and thriving at least 10 days before we were matched with him. He came to our agency’s care house just five days before we were matched with him. When baby was formally referred to us, we were given a “suspected” birthdate for baby that aligned with how old baby was thought to be. When we arrived in Ethiopia to pick up baby, his birth certificate– which was in English– had a different date than what we were originally given. So what happened?
Well, anyone’s guess is a good one but what possibly happened is that a few things got lost in the process of three translations– language translation(s) and a calendar translation. Baby’s birth mother was involved his adoption (sometimes you hear of babies that were carefully (meaning they were placed somewhere that they might be found) abandoned so that they might be put up for adoption and sometimes you hear of someone who gives up a baby for adoption through the regular formal process for that because they are unable- for any number of reasons– to care for the infant) and it could be that his birthdate was changed in translation from her language– if she spoke one of the many native dialects in Ethiopia- to Amharic, the legal language in Ethiopia. Or perhaps the date was changed in translation from Amharic to English. The other possibility is that things were confused when baby’s birthdate had to be changed from the Ethiopic calendar to the Gregorian calendar that we use. Today, August 24, 2009, is 18 Nahas 2001 in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s calendar has 12 months of 30 days and then a 13th month that has the remaining 5 or 6 days of a year. In addition, they celebrated the millennium last year and their New Year’s happens on our September 11th. All that explanation to say that maybe baby’s birthdate changed because of language or date translation. Whatever the case, we have an Ethiopian birth certificate that calls for us to celebrate his birth on August 26th and that is exactly what we will do. More on that Wednesday when baby officially turns 1.