Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Realizing THE DREAM

(Photographer: Tim O’Donnell)

It’s been 50 years since the “March On Washington”.  It’s been 5o years since the famous “I Have A Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was spoken...  So, where are we 50 years later?  Coming off the NOT GUILTY VERDIT of George Zimmerman, it would appear that we’ve reverted back to 1963.

A lot has changed, yet there are many things that have still remained the same in some people’s consciousness.  How far have we really come?  And where do we go from here?  As we all know, “The Dream” has yet to be fully realized because we’re still seeking “Jobs and Justice” too.

 So what do we do? There’s still a “Call” to be answered.  There’s still a “Torch” to be carried and a “Baton” to be passed on…  Although we’ve overcome, there’s much more work to be done as we still have responsibilities to attend to that will continue from this day on.   

I’d venture to say that with everything going on in the world today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would tell us, it’s time to get “Back To Basics”…  the basics of being rooted and ground in THE WORD OF GOD, the basics of FAMILY VALUES and the basics of CULTIVATING UNITY within our communities and amongst humanity.

Realizing THE DREAM…  We must continue to WALK IN FAITH and MARCH IN TRUTH, carrying the belief that together, “We Can Actualize THE DREAM, Advancing What IT Really Means”! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

We Have Always Served

Amelia "Melia" O'Neal Spradley

She was a Maid, One who took pride in her work, caring for the white man’s home as if it was her own.  Not only did she do it, her mother did it too.  For generations, our mothers and their daughters were “The Help” for many White American Families.

Our fore-mothers were home managers that ran “family business” and did it with dignity and pride.  Although this particular job was not a glorified one in the eyes of many, this position called for great trust, unwavering faith and enormous responsibility which I believe was the very reason why many “Black Maids” stayed on with the families they cared for for years.

I was told that my Grandmother Amelia O’Neal Spradley was well respected in her work as a maid, an excellent cook, very clean and organized too.  I also learned over  the years that she could take anything off the “dump pile” and make it look like it came out of the store, hence her refurbishing skills of reupholstering just about everything.  My grandmother also had an eye for decorating and color coordination; I guess one had to know a little bit of every back then…

Lee Daniels' The Butler - Now Showing

I had an opportunity to see “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” during its opening weekend and once again on this past Sunday…  It is a motion picture that triggered memories of stories I was told about my Grandmother Amelia who was a Maid or “Black Domestic” as mentioned in the film... 

See what they need, want and anticipate.”  These are the words from the move that still ring in my ears.  This is a film that takes us on a journey through the eyes of Cecil Gains from his days of working in the cotton field with his family to his final walk to see the 44th President of the United States, Mr. “Barack Obama”.   

It’s a story filled with American History, more specifically Black History, family values, love, struggle, and pain.  But, the biggest elements that resonated in my heart are endurance and resiliency…  Cecil’s ability to transcend hardships regardless of what he experienced is astonishing, however the message that echoes throughout history is, “we’ve served our county in many capacities”.

EVERYTHING WE ARE and EVERYTHING WE HAVE is because of those who served before us.  We’ve always played an important role in America’s History regardless of our trials and triumphs…  And we must continue to make history, creating that which is to come with the “SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE” in everything that we do knowing that as AFRIKAN AMERIKANS, We have ALWAYS SERVED AMERICA with Dignity, Pride and Self-Realization.       

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Transitioned Using Extensions

14 years ago today, I transitioned using extensions…  Now they call it “Protective Style”, my, how times have changed.  I made the decision to return to my natural hair texture because I simply go tired of having my hair relaxed besides my scalp being irritated by the chemical burns over the years.

My Last Relaxer
The last time I got my hair relaxed, wasn’t a good experience (my hair looked nice and the cut was sharp) but my scalp was sore to the touch and lasted for a few days.  Not sure if the relaxer batch was bad or what, but it made me say “This Is It” like Michael Jackson (LOL).  

Because I had worn braids over the years, it was natural for me to use that process to make the transition.  You see back then, the term “Big Chop” wasn’t known (to my knowledge at least) like it is now, but I’m sure some women probably did cut their hair or used some other method to make the switch back to their natural hair texture.


Making the Transition:

I transitioned while I was in the military, so my hair styles had to be within regulations and I also had to wear my cover which was part of my military uniform…  So, you know what that meant, I couldn’t do too much with my hair because it could possibly be seen as “Faddish” according to military standards.

Some of My "Protective Styles" Over the Years

Unfortunately, this always seemed to be the case, because many of my superiors were Caucasian males who really didn’t understand our hair less known what was fashionable with black hair. Therefore, if my hair didn’t look “normal” to them, then there would be an issue. 

Did I say, I pushed the envelope too sometimes? But, within the boundaries of course and I made sure I knew the policy and could quote it if need be. (LOL)  So, me toeing the line of being within regulations, being creative and trying different styles was a task to say the least. 

Maintenance In Style:

During my transition, I made sure that I properly cared for my hair and here are a couple of things I did: 

  • I “shampooed and conditioned” my hair regularly (Keeping my scalped clean; I used Cream of Nature then)
  • I had my ends trimmed often (Roughly every 6 to 8 weeks)
  • I made sure that I oiled my scalp and moisturized my hair (Back then I used braid spray and a light hair grease)
  • I also tied my hair down with a silk or satin scarf or wore a satin bonnet to bed.

I didn’t experience much shedding or much breakage during this time 1) because I had a regular maintenance schedule for getting my hair done every 6 -12 weeks, depending on the style worn.  The other reason I believe this didn’t happen much was due to trimming my hair before I received my new braid style.  I was in essence cutting away the relaxer as my hair was growing.

Within a year’s time, I had grown all of the relaxer out…  It was truly a process in and of itself, but it was more so a self awakening journey; One that has continued ‘til this day.  As I advance in age and evolve spiritually, so shall my relationship with my hair.  I don’t regret my decision and I proudly “Celebrate Our Black Hair”.

"Lov'in My Natural Hair"

How did you transition? Did you use Extensions/Protective Styles?  Big Chop?  Flat Iron/Blow Out?   Wear Wigs?  Natural Hair Styles (I.e. Braid Out/Twist Out)?  Other?