Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. - Rumi

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rethinking The Help

Afro Queen
oil pastel on paper

In the summer I wrote a post about The Help by K. Stockett,
the book about the black maids in the south.  I didn’t care for the book.  It triggers my own feelings about racism.  I have not seen the movie.  But I have read what others have written about it, and what the actresses have to say about playing the parts. 
That caused me to rethink my ideas about the movie.  One thing we as humans are very fortunate to have is a freethinking mind.  We can change it at any time.  We have the capacity to revisit our thoughts, weigh all the options, and reflect on why we think what we think. And change our minds about something.   That is what happened to me with this movie/book. 
So my new take:  while I won’t be rushing out to see it, I have respect for the actresses that took up the roles of portraying a segment of our population that had no voice.
And to me that is what The Help did.  It gave a voice to women that were invisible. 
I love the actress Viola Davis.  I think she is beautiful, powerful and amazing.  She is a dark skinned black woman following her dreams.  She was on the cover of LA Magazine and she was gorgeous.  She had a short afro and was exquisite. She has grace.  She took a risk on this role. 
Back to the Help.  Slavery, indentured servitude, taking advantage of people because of their skin color or race or religion has been apart of the makeup of America. 
Have things changed since the sixties? Are the lines of inequality fading? Is there equanimity for all?
Good questions to ask. Can one answer with a yes or no or maybe? The answers are as complex as the questions as the person answering would be.
I did change my mind on the book. To be black in America is no easy feat.  My challenges as a light skinned  black woman are different that a darker skinned black woman.  But my hair tells my story.  My nose tells my story, my lips.. they tell my story.  I am the Help.  My grandmother’s and great grandmothers were The Help.  
In my new reflective space, I value that these women are now visible.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Hair Thing - Welcome to My World

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.  ~Author Unknown

I have hair issues.  Everyone does. Or some people do and others don’t.  I was born with kinky, curly hair.  Hair that requires work to look nice:  Work that I don’t necessarily want to do, it depends on the year, my style, where I am at with my look.
Dixie Peach
Varnette Honeywood
In my story, I have a mother that really wasn’t all that much into hair either.  When I was little, she didn’t care that I cried when she tugged on my head and hair to comb it.  And I had those funny looking braids and a very tender scalp.  Hence, her plan was to relax and keep my hair short. Like her.  But she wasn’t consistent and lacked family support (because we were overseas). It was a nightmare of a mess.  
Fast forward to being a grownup and not having any strong hair skills.  For a while I did the natural thing, still keeping my hair braided.  Simple, it worked in college. 
I learned to deep condition my hair with olive oil in a sauna, making it very healthy.   But it was time consuming, the braids.
Oh! and I tried wearing braids, the cornrow/ weave ones (the fake ones).  I thought someone put a rug on my head – hated it.  It was awful.  All she did was tug on my head, of course I didn't like it, I have hair tugging issues.  I mean the worst $300.00 dollar mistake I ever made. I don’t understand that one, how women go around with rugs on their heads.
I have straightened my hair with a relaxer.  And kept it short.  And it worked.  For a long time. 
Then I wanted something different, but I don’t like a lot of hair fiddling.  I found a relaxer that left my hair curly and ringlet like.  And I loved it.  I felt the straight hair was too severe and got tired of it. Why couldn’t I have that beautiful mixed race curly spirally hair?  But I was happy with the new curly look.  I had to use curl stuff to make the curls, but for the first time, I felt happy with my hair.  It wasn’t too difficult to style, so it met my needs and I thought it suited me. 
Alas and alack, my hair got dry, and brittle and needed care and I had to find products I could afford and liked.  Thus began a whole new chapter in my life. 
Since I don’t wear makeup, I take decent care of my hair.
There is the leave-in conditioner, the curl crème and the anti frizz stuff.  And sometimes the combination works and sometimes I have to tweek it.
The great thing about my hair is painting it.  Doing representations of it in my work.  I love making squiggley lines to depict my curly hair.  That is fun.  That is what I love about my hair and my identity.
self portrait
acrylic on canvas panel 2011

They say people with straight hair want curly and vice versa.
I am just trying to be happy with who I am and how I am on this planet right now.  So I am figuring it out.