Update: Brand NEW Posts Coming Soon!!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Girl, Where You Been At?

I'm back!
I did sort of just dive back into blogging after a two year hiatus. I figured I should take a moment to update you about my life now, what prompted me to get back online,  and what’s next for the blog. First, I should say that I never stopped blogging. Hard to believe because you can look back a few posts and see that huge two year plus gap from February 9, 2012 to June 6, 2014. No, I still wrote blogs. I typed them out and stored them on my computer, but I never felt like they were good enough. I didn't know what direction to take the blog in, so a lot of what I wrote exists as untitled word documents stored in the recesses of my busted PC. I also thought about the blog a lot. After 5 years of my life dedicated to it, I missed posting. I felt a little incomplete without it. I even wrote, and continue to write, blogs in my head.

While I can’t point to a single thing that got me back online, I can say that during my “break” I still moderated comments. So even though I had almost given up on the blog, it turns out other people still saw it as useful. Then one day a friend sent me the blog of a mutual friend. I loved it! That event led to me review some of my old posts.  Lastly, I got re-inspired by some of my favorite content makers and shakers here on the interwebs and the rest is history. I had the kick in the pants I needed to sign back into the blog! SO I’m back and hopefully back to stay and I have so much to share.  My heart and soul long to write and blogging makes me epically happy.

If you are an observant reader of the blog, you’ll notice it has a different look, that some of the posts have been tweaked (I suck at editing my own stuff) and updates have been added where appropriate. You’ll also notice that some previous entries have been taken down. Some I feel were not well thought out, some no longer reflected my feelings or opinions, and some just sucked. So I am working towards making the blog a better place. I am open to suggestions. While I’m at it, do you think the blog should have a different name? Recall that it went from being “Crystal’s Random Blog” to “Crystal’s Purposeful Blog” to reflect my belief that life has meaning. It is time for new name?

Why did I take a break?  Well, recall that I had been feeling ambivalent about blogging. I didn't know how to take my blog to the next level.  Also recall (recall is the word of the week, people) that I was in graduate school  and working. Then when I graduated (yes, people I didn't stay a drop out. I changed programs and got a Masters in Education—more about that later) I was working two jobs for a while (because I like eating and living indoors) and then I was busy trying to find a real job with benefits. So pretty much my life has been a mad mad mad mad world!

Then 2013 came and it sucked in phenomenal ways that I do not even want to revisit. Suffice it to say that I ended up moving from Ohio, back to my hometown of Baltimore. I have been here for 1 and a half years. One good thing did happen in 2013. Recall (there’s that word again) that I was fat. Well actually I got fatter and then I lost 30 pounds!! I have kept it off for the last year so wish me luck on that. I did end up finding a job here in Maryland as a preschool teacher, which is a whole other can of worms considering that I have never been fond of children.  Let’s just say that I work with some rather dangerous minds, but it’s full-time and I have benefits so it shows that God has a sense of humor.

So what’s next for the blog? I do want to try to post more frequently. Maybe on certain days? I’m leaning towards posting twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays, but you have to promise to be gracious with me, because I have a busy life outside of blogspot. Let me know what you think about more post, and posting on specific days? I am still editing previous articles. Turns out my phone deleted a lot of the cool pictures that I filched from google images, so now I have to go in and try to find other photos.  At least one person wants to see me vlog, but vlogging and me…..well child…..smh...not sure about that one.

To end this rambling article, if you have questions for me leave them in the comment section and I will get back to you. If I get enough I might even do a Q&A. Also feel free to leave suggestions and tell me what you would like to see here on the Purposeful Blog.  I promise to be authentic and to give you the best blog that I can possibly create. So subscribe, comment, share and I will see you later….promise.  

PS. Trying to renovate my blog (which has 90 posts btw) is quite a process so if you come across any broken links, grammar issues, or other problems, will you let me know? Thank you in advance.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dissonance in the Black Hair “Community”

Black hair is beautiful too!

It has come to my attention that the black hair community is up in arms again. While I am still trying to sort out how one becomes a part of this elite body of hair care reformers, and just who is in charge of this ubiquitous organization, I take issue with some of the craziness I have been hearing over the last few days. (As an aside, I would like to know more about this “community”. Do they elect officials? If so who votes them in? How do I get on that nominating committee?  And most importantly, how is it “they” can make decisions about me, and judgments against me based on how I choose to wear my hair?) So because I am black (check), and I do have hair (just touched it so yeah it’s still there), I have nominated myself to write a blog which I hope will dissolve a lot of this nonsense.

First, natural hair is hair that has not been chemically processed! That is the plain definition. Natural does not mean you do not clean your hair, or comb it, or try to make it presentable in some way.  Natural does not mean that you substitute one product (relaxers) for 18 other products, because neither situation is good for your hair. Now how you style your natural hair is your business. You may choose not to process your hair and wear a wig over it, or cut it off, or wear a weave down your back or a twist out or a so called “protective style” or flat iron it etc. There are limitless options on what one can choose to do with her unprocessed hair and none of those options make a woman more or less natural than someone else! Oh and it doesn't make you any more black that someone else either.

So I read a post that bothered me and because it is so divisive, I chose not to post it here. I kept hearing fragments of the conversation and tried to tune it out, but this post brought everything to light. It implied that any hairstyle other than an Afro was “unnatural” and that black women who try to achieve waves and ringlets and other styles were guilty of being inauthentic. Really? To make matters worse the article pitted black women against other biracial black women and accused the former group of trying to emulate the latter. Huh????? Apparently the once uniformed (sarcasm) black hair community is splintering into various segments.

I want to go on record saying that these detractors are in the minority of the minority. I do not believe that most women are so consumed with the way they look that they take time to belittle those who do not live up to the “never agreed upon standard.” That’s petty. But because of this minority, now there is hate on youtube! Vloggers are angry that black women ( I don’t segregate my people into categories like’ biracial’ because we are all people of color and black people are inherently a mixed-race people) with more European hair are receiving more attention than those with traditional Afro-textured hair. Reminds me of Dr. Seuss and the Sneetches.  Remember some of the Sneetches had stars on their belly and some didn't and how the ones with stars looked down on those who did not have stars? The Sneetches without stars wanted stars and those with stars stopped wanting them when the former group got stars.  It’s silly! But the madness that goes on with hair (Wavy hair girls hate on the kinky hair girls vice versa. Kinky hair girls want to look like wavy girls) is just as silly as Sneetches and stars.

I watch a broad array of videos to get ideas on how to style my wonderfully nappy hair! When I go online I seek out sisters who have hair similar to mine. If I had straight hair I would look for women who had straight hair to see what products work and which styles are best. That’s not to say that I don’t watch other videos. I once watched a white woman who had a clever idea of how to use socks to create a bun, even though my hair is vastly different than hers. It’s all flavor to me. I can learn from any one.

I will concede that I do not see the logic in trying a product that is meant for a wavier texture of hair if you have a courser texture like mine. Sure it might do wonders for the sister who put it on her fine wavy hair, but it may not work on your thick kinky hair and vice versa. But ultimately the products you choose for your hair are your business!!!!!!! I take issue with those who tell me that I can’t get styling ideas from someone who looks different than I do. I take issue with those who lift up a certain type of hair (whether courser texture or fine or whatever) as the standard of hair that I should strive for.* And I am offended that a teeny tiny group of people who look like me have decided to label certain styles as authentically black and wearing others as tantamount to selling out! Nonsense! Hair trends come and go. Now black women want to wear unprocessed hair. In a few years straight will be back in. Now long weaves are popular, but short hair is making a comeback. The only sure thing about fashion is that it will change. 

So much of this conflict has to do with who gets to review which products and how those reviews will boost the profits of a specific blogger or vlogger.SMH (Please see my blog "Don't Follow Me", which inspired this post.)I have described my attitude towards products on this blog. I use water from my spigot; olive oil from my kitchen and whatever leave- in conditioner is on sale at the closest beauty supply store. I am by nature aminimalist and I encourage others to be as well. Especially, when product reviews and monetization cause hate and conflict and craziness on the interwebs. 

Lastly, God did not create a superior hair texture! We are not limited in how we chose to present ourselves to the world. I have curly hair (at least one blogger takes issue with the idea of calling afro-textured hair “curly”). Sometimes I play up my curls by twisting my hair, sometimes I play them down by flat ironing. And guess what? I’m the same person! India Arie said it best when she sang, “it’s not about your head it’s what’s underneath.”  Let’s stop the madness. Let’s stop putting each other down. Women in general can treat each other so poorly! Let’s make efforts to lift one another up. Let’s try to see the beauty in the full spectrum of hair types God created, without elevating some and criticizing others. Love and appreciation for individual differences are, in fact, the true essence of community.

*Many people do not understand the origin of the hair texture/skin color problem. So much of this nonsense about hair stems from slavery. White people raped slaves producing mixed offspring that had more European appearance. As a result, slaves who looked more phenotypically white had more elevated positions on the plantation and slaves with African features had to do the more labor- intensive work. But people miss the point that both groups were still slaves.  Historically, skin color and hair texture could literally boost social status just as they can today.  Subsequently, there is sometimes tension between blacks with more European physical characteristics, and blacks with more African characteristics. Hair is another battleground where we see this tension play out. Yes, there are implications for blacks concerning the straightening of one’s hair that other races just don’t have to deal with, (just like there are implications for an Asian who has surgery to make his eyes appear larger). But straightening hair or manipulating one’s hair texture is not in and of itself a symptom of self-hate. Putting others down, and starting a bunch of smack on the interwebs, however, is! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Don't Follow Me!

One of the things I like about my quiet little home here in cyberspace is that, well, it's quiet. Though I do have some people who write me to let me know they appreciate what I do or that they agree with a certain post, no one is following me. I have no "fans". No one wants to emulate everything I do. No one is angry with me if I don't get back to them and I am not so inundated with comments that I don't have the time to reply.But some bloggers and vloggers have a different experience here on the interwebs.

 First, can I say that I take issue with the concept of "following" someone. That's one of many reasons that I do not have a twitter page and have no intention of making one...ever! Hashtag that! I am a person. A mere mortal. Just like all the other bloggers and vloggers out here. Sure, some have great fashion advice, some are gifted entertainers, some brilliant comedians, and talented storytellers, but none worthy of "following." Why? Because "following" has an extremely religious connotation and I believe that there is only one person who said "follow me" who was worthy of following and his name is Jesus Christ.

Religious convictions aside, people should be careful who they chose to emulate. Sure that vlogger you watch might have impeccable fashion sense, but if you get so wrapped up in what he or she is wearing or how she styles her hair, or what color gloss she uses, you lose your individuality. For the sake of full disclosure, I admit that I subscribe to a number of fashion oriented vlogs, so I'm certainly not condemning them or any other youtube genre. What I am saying is that we need to remember that folk are folk! That same entertainer you idolize may have a drug problem. That hilarious youtube comedian, might suffer from clinical depression. That beautiful fashionista you strive to be just like, might have low self-esteem or be battling an identity crisis. And the list goes on. As talented as people may be, we are inherently flawed, which is yet another reason why we should not follow human beings.

Another issue is that everyone seems to have the dream of monetizing, which is not necessarily wrong. In fact, during a particularly broke time in my life I had dreams of dollars signs too. But there are consequences when you do things solely  for money--compromises you make. Sometimes those compromises even result in a loss of integrity of the product you originally produced. There are actually people out here who want to be professional youtubers, and bloggers? Smh. Try putting that on a resume. Also realize that some of the people being idolized don't even care about their fan base--they will product review snake oil and pimp it out to the masses in order to put an easy dime in their own pockets.

There are a few events that have happened in the last few days that prompted me to write this post. I plan to address them here, but I wanted to set the stage by appealing to those who read this blog. We are extremely blessed in that we live in an age of limitless content. All kinds of people can come together and share their talents and resources with the entire world! That's epic! The internet has the power of bring us together; of showing us our shared human experiences, or appealing to our empathy and galvanizing our desire to help others. Yet there are many disadvantages such as social isolation, depression, fanaticism, people-worshiping etc., that evolve from the same platform that brings us so much good.

I am one of millions of contributors in this vast community we call cyberspace. I consider myself a competent writer and I believe that I produce quality content, but don't follow me. Whether his blog attracts 2 subscribers or 2 million, no matter how big or popular I become I have no desire to have fans. Support me, but don't follow me...or any other person either.