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Natural Hair Weekend: Interviews, Meet-up and Awards Show!


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Hello everyone!

My last post was a week ago today and SO MUCH has happened since then. Last Friday, I went to New York to immerse myself in the natural hair care industry. I interviewed such notable Brooklyn salon owners as Diane Bailey of Tendrils (http://www.tendrilshairspa.com/Mission.html) , Marlene Duperley of Doris New York, Inc. (http://www.dorisnewyork.com/) and Victoria J. of Victoria J. Natural Hair Salon (http://www.victoriajnaturalhairsalon.com/). Each of these women opened their salons or homes to me and graciously gave of their time to share their thoughts on the natural hair care industry.
I also attended a natural hair meet-up hosted by Darker than Brown (http://www.meetup.com/Darker-Than-Brown/) at a restaurant I’d never frequented (Vapiano’s! http://www.vapianointernational.com/vapiano/ the meet-up was at the University Blvd location, try the Cobb Salad YUMMY!).
Plus, I attended the Natural Hair Awards at the Brooklyn Museum. I am not one to be starstruck but I was in awe of seeing Amazon Smiley (Amazon Natural Essentials Salon & Spa), Anu Prestonia (Khamit Kinks), Diane Bailey (Tendrils Salon), Marsulette Walker (Madame Walker’s Braidery), Marion Council-George (Designer Braids & Trade), Nekhena Evans (New Bein’ Enterprises), Orin Saunders (Locks N’ Chops), Sheila Everette-Hale (Everette’s Cornrows), and Tulani Kinard (Tulani’s Regal Movement; yes, THAT Tulani Kinard of Sweet Honey in the Rock fame!). I’ll discuss each of them in turn in the coming days.
Talk about a wonderful time! When I got back home on Monday, my mind was whirling with possibilities and blog topics. I welcome your comments as I post about each of these phenomenal experiences!
  • The Master Pioneer Award

    Greetings Ms. OpieIt is truly a wonderful thing you are doing with regards to blogging about our industry. I am thrilled you had an opportunity to attend The Master Pioneer Award. I look forward to reading your upcoming blog on our honorees. Peace and Blessings in all of you do and your visionAnita Hill MosesThe Master Pioneer AwardExecutive Director

  • topie

    Hi Samara and Anita!Samara, I am having the videos edited but I will be sure to post once they are worthy of viewing. 🙂 Anita, you know that I think you are doing a FABULOUS job! Keep it up!Tina

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Pi Nappa Kappa: Good idea or a joke?


One of the newest sororities on the block appears to be Pi Nappa Kappa created by Leola Anifowoshe. Given the mission of the sorority, it can be assumed that “Nappa” is a play on “nappy”. According to the “Natural Hair Sorority & Fraternity – 10K Naturals” Facebook page, Pi Nappa Kappa’s mission is to “To educate, inspire and uplift natural hair women, men, boys and girls throughout the entire world. To make the word “nappy” into a “happy” and celebrated term” (https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHairSorority).

I am ambivalent about the sorority. On one hand, it feels like an unnecessary organization. Can’t the natural hair movement just develop on its own? Why do we need a sorority? Furthermore, why not just have a natural hair care organization with the same mission? Finally, the name makes it seem like a farcical caricature of Greek life.

On the other hand, I laud Ms. Anifowoshe’s brilliance in creating Pi Nappa Kappa as a sorority. First, it is a great marketing ploy. By calling it a sorority, Ms. Anifowoshe has tapped into the deep roots of the historically Black sororities (and their brethren fraternities). Sorority members are highly identified with their organizations and calling Pi Nappa Kappa a sorority is likely to start a feisty conversation. Hey, conflict sells and I’m certain that Ms. Anifowoshe will get more media coverage by calling it a sorority than if she had called it an organization, club or group. Second, I do believe that a Natural Hair movement is taking place. Look around, and you will surely note a proliferation of websites, news stories, magazine articles, etc. on natural hair. Something is afoot. I’ve thought that it would be great to have a clearinghouse for this information. As a hair and identity blogger (tropie7189.blogspot.com), I’ve sometimes been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of natural hair information available. If Ms. Anifowoshe’s organization will serve as a conduit to the wealth of available information, I’m in, no matter what she calls it. I will say that I won’t take a line number, pledge, do a special handshake (will that be necessary given it’s an Internet sorority?), learn a special call, or anything like that. I pledged a traditionally Black sorority in college and that experience stands on its own; I have no desire to replicate it.

I’m curious to see if the idea takes off and how people respond to the idea. What are your thoughts?

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Huffington Post Article on Natural Hair

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I just finished reading an outstanding Huffington Post article by Janell Ross http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/black-hair-natural-relaxed-_n_918200.html). Ms. Ross’s article, “Natural or Relaxed, For Black Women, Hair is Not a Settled Matter”, is well-written and full of information.

I wanted to share the article with you all for several reasons. First, the article suggests that something is definitely afoot when it comes to more and more women opting out of chemical straighteners and diving into the world of natural hair. Each of us probably knows someone who has either Big Chopped or is transitioning to natural hair. But, I didn’t realize that chemical relaxer sales have declined by 12% in the last two years! Did you know that?

Second, I love the fact that the article delves into the social stigma associated with natural hair. In fact, the article opens with a church woman questioning why so many of the young women at her church were wearing their natural hair to church. That made me laugh out loud because one of the places where I heard that my dreadlocks were inappropriate was in church. I am grateful that as a Christian I happen to be personally familiar with the Bible and could quickly see that that was someone’s personal opinion NOT The Gospel. Amen to reading scripture and seeking holistic insight (i.e., don’t just read one scripture of out context). I also recall my older family members being astonished when I first Big Chopped over a decade ago. My Mom told me the other day that when she first saw my TWA she said, “That nut went off and cut off all of her hair”. HAHA!! My mother is precious and you have to hear her soft Southern accent to feel the full impact of her statement. The funny thing is that my Mother went natural a few years ago and is toying with it again now. Hey,she’ll tell you that relaxer-thinned hair is not her look of choice.

Third, the article made me reflect on the impending glances, comments and murmurs I may encounter once I go back to school with my own TWA. People identify me as the tall black woman with dreadlocks. Well, that is going to change. I am so excited about learning more about my hair. The first time I wore a TWA I grew it out and kept it in double-stranded twists, too afraid to unbound my hair. Now, I want to ROCK a natural in its many shapes and styles. I am ready to confront my own notion of beauty, femininity and style. I am ready to explore.

Finally, I had never heard of Uncle Funky’s Daughter (http://www.unclefunkysdaughter.com). The name alone makes me adore this natural hair care company already. I will have to try out the products on the next phase of my journey.

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Our Hair Connects Us

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One thing that I love about blogging is that you get a chance to learn about, meet and talk to people from all over the world. I recently came across “My bald patch led to a thriving UK natural hair community” by Angel Smith (http://peoplewithvoices.com/2011/07/18/my-bald-patch-led-to-a-thriving-uk-natural-hair-community/).

Here in the United States it is easy to forget that we have many more resources at our fingertips than do others around the world. For example, Ms. Smith shared that when she experienced a bald spot after years of relaxers she found a dearth of resources in her UK home area. However, she didn’t complain, she did something about it by founding a natural hair community complete with a hair blog (http://www.thenaturallounge.com/) and hosted hair events.

Reading Ms. Smith’s article reminded me that embracing our natural selves is something that women around the world pursue. Here’s to helping each other on our quest. Plus, I’m thinking that this may be a good way for me to educate myself about difference around the world. I would love to get to know more about different hair perspectives around the world. Hmm, when I have free time (whoops, nothing will ever happen if I wait for that) I will look into this!

P.S.: I am in the process of researching resources to help us teach children about difference (e.g., interracial, appearance, etc.). I will keep you posted; please share any thoughts that you may have.

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To Chop or Not to Chop, That is the Question

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I’ve shared that, as of late, I’ve been thinking about doing the Big Chop again. This time, I’d be chopping off my dreadlocks. I love my locs and think that they are beautiful. However, I realize that I never learned to work with my natural, unlocked hair. Yes, I rocked a TWA (teeny weeny afro) and then adorned my hair in two-strand twists. However, despite the fact that my unfettered hair is thick, kinky, long and wide, I NEVER wore a fro. Why not? Well, I think I was afraid. Afraid that my big hair wouldn’t look professional. Afraid I’d lose control of my coif if I was caught in a surprise rainstorm or if the day turned out to be humid. Afraid that I’d be viewed as a militant woman who secretly sported an afro pick complete with clenched fist. Afraid that my supervisors and/or my clients wouldn’t find me relatable because my afro would make it obvious that I was not an “us” but a “them”. Afraid that the morning of a big presentation, I’d look in the mirror at my dented afro and cry because I had no idea what product to use to “tame” it. Afraid, afraid, afraid.


I’m turning 40 later on this month and I realize that part of life is confronting one’s fears. Given the freedom of an academic career plus my evolving attitude about fear and risk, I think I’m leaning toward the second Big Chop. Plus, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post there is a veritable Natural Hair Movement! Hmm, we’ll see.


Have you recently done the Big Chop? Have you been thinking about going natural but just don’t have the courage? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s encourage and inspire each other! In case you’re interested, here are a few sites that give advice about the Big Chop: http://zora-alice.com/2010/11/the-beginners-guide-to-the-big-chop-part-1/; http://naturallymemedia.com/2011/02/25/the-live-big-chop-at-fro-fashion-week/, http://naturalreviewbyl.com/tag/big-chop/. I also came across this website on dreadlocks which has some interesting links: http://www.naturalhairgrows.com/dreadlocks.html.

P.S.: I think it’s really cool that a Google search for Big Chop yielded 1,690,000 hits and tons and tons of pictures of women of color. Something is definitely afoot.

  • topie

    Hi Shakena, Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you are doing a great job getting acquainted with your hair. Whew-hew for freedom, right? You made me chuckle because I can so relate to your comments. I'm now figuring out whether or not I'm going to do the BC again. To answer your question, I have mature locks that I started about 10 years ago from two-strand twists. I feel like I'm afraid to cut them. I know, weird right? Also, I do think that business training (what do you do? I've studied business since undergrad and now I'm a business professor) has a huge impact on what we consider professional. We have to figure out how to be authentic in a world where our authenticity is sometimes considered unprofessional (e.g., kinky hair, dreadlocks, etc.). the good thing is that it really feels like we're all in this journey together. Encouraging each other along the way. Best wishes to your best friend. I've heard that many women love sister locs.

  • Shakena.Renee

    i say "do what you feel!–but be ready to bare the consequences!" haha right now i am back in grad school for international affairs but my undergrad was in business-accounting. i also went to an hbcu which adds another aspect to the issue. we were taught to be ourselves but be the selves that will get us hired at the same time…what a confusing world!

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Natural Hair Care Movement

A wonderful thing is happening: so many of us are electing to wear our natural hair that the NY Times recently did an article on natural hair care (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/fashion/hair-care-for-african-americans.html?scp=1&sq=natural%20hair&st=cse). I’m sure other articles have been written; however, this article covered such renowned websites as Natural Chica (http://www.naturalchica.com/), Curly Knikki (http://www.curlynikki.com/) and Luv Naturals (http://www.luvnaturals.com/) run by Kim Love who also has a YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/kimmaytube). I’ve blogged about these women and their sites in the past. However, the NY Times article was great because it allowed these women to share their own stories in their own words. It is thrilling to see how individuals’ desire to learn how to work with and embrace their natural hair is turning into what seems like a groundswell of interest. My prayer is that it reaches our young girls as well as our grand dames and everyone in between. A grassroots natural hair care movement! Whew-hew!

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