Sometimes I think my hair doesn’t grow. . .

Ever since I cut off all my hair and have anxiously been watching it as it grows back. I found the habit of length checks I first found them on Just Grow Already (http://justgrowalready.com/) when I wasn’t sure if I was transitioning or just stretching out my relaxers. The periodic picture check of visible growth helped with the million of other days when my hair felt like it was standing still, or worse the days when it felt like it was creeping back into my head.  So randomly I would stand pull my hair over my shoulders and compare the length of my hair to my tattoo on my back!

Looking something like this. . .

IMG_1517

Then I decided to loc my hair and it really felt like it was creeping back into my head, let me tell you the shrinkage in those first few months of locked life is real! And for the last year and a half I have pretty much felt like I am trying to make up for lost ground, work back to where my hair was before. But then today on my time hop it showed me a picture of my hair in a snapchat selfie exactly a year ago, and I instantly remembered why I loved those length checks! They show you that it is worth it, patience the frustration and all the retwisting was worth it because look . . . IMG_3607.JPG

My hair it grew!

So be patient,  take pictures, keep retwisting, learning the ways that your hair works best, keep it up because it is all worth it!

-Rae

Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

I did not come to play with you hoes. . I cam to slay Bitch.

I am obsessed with this song. . .

I am obsessed with the beat

I am obsessed with the eery sound as the beat drops in the video

I am obsessed with the way Bey’s hair flows out of this car. . .

I am obsessed with the funeral procession standing outside of the house. .

I am obsessed with the way that this song has inspired such controversy in such a short time

I am obsessed with the way that it is so “Unapologetically Black”

I am obsessed with the way my Facebook Feed is so full of the Queen Bey. . .

I have seen everything from comparisons to the KKK to praise for the all reigning Queen Bey,

And all I have to say to them is YASSS QUEEN!

I wish someone was there to tell me that they like My baby hair with Baby hair and Afro’s, so then maybe I wouldn’t have been slicking my edges down just to hide my kinks

I am obsessed with how I feel so Proud to be Black when I listen to it, people say it is such a Black song, it puts Beyonce’s blackness in your face and guess what, there is nothing wrong with that, no one should be asked to apologize for that!

And let’s just look at Blue . .. that girl Slay’s!

Slay Bey, Slay girl!

Beautiful in Every Shade!

For years my hair has consumed me. Even before I started my natural hair journey, 2 years ago.. . 2 years has it really been that long?!

I would think about how I could make my hair straighter, more like my friends, why didn’t my hair curl like theirs , why didn’t it grow like theirs? Then I would cut it every month or so, getting shorter and shorter, going red, pink, purple then black, a light brown and then back to red, my hair was my obsession, or my hobby as some might say.

Finally I cut it all off, shaved my head and decided to start fresh, now that wasn’t the beginning of my natural hair journey because over the course of the next year I only lasted with a TWA for about 3 months before I relaxed my hair and had an ultra cute pixie. . no the start of my natural hair journey started about a year later. I simply decided I wasn’t going to relax or cut my hair for 2 months that seemed reasonable at the time.

Then 2 months came and went and I decided to go for 6 months, and then in that 6 months I got engaged and decided I wasn’t going to relax or cut my hair till the wedding. (I did trim off the relaxed ends from time to time after about 10 months)

All in all I transitioned for 17 months before cutting almost all of my relaxed ends off. In this time I learned one of the most valuable lessons I have yet to learn in my 24 years. . . BLACK HAIR IS BEAUTIFUL, JUST THE WAY IT IS!

I grew up in an all white town, in an all white family, with all white friends . I loved their hair, to me it screamed versatile, where my hair screamed messy. My mom wouldn’t let me relax my hair until I was 18 but she had no idea what to do with my hair so it was most often in a poof on top of my head. ( A poof I now wish I could pull off again) and that is what I thought natural hair meant, that you were constrained to having an afro (which my younger self was not confident enough to pull off) or wearing your hair up. In a now infamous school picture I took my hair down without telling m mom right before the picture and ended up with a kind of sticking out straight from my head not down and not cute look. All I wanted was to wear my hair down and not up.. my hair loved to reach for the sky!

But over these past two years I discovered more styles for my hair than I ever I wore it in twists, braids, wash and gos, twist outs, I wore it up, down, in a protective style, I changed my hair style and color about every 2 months without damaging a thing and I LOVED IT!. I finally found a way to express myself through my hair . . .all by wearing “Black” styles.

Along the way there was a boy, my now husband who has repeatedly told me how beautiful my black is, he has loved every style every change every kink. He has reminded me over and over again that I am beautiful just the way I am. I tell him all the time that . . .”He loves my hair, , and for that I love him.”

Now I am off to a new journey I have decided to loc my hair in 2016, I started my baby locks on my collar bone length hair and trimmed the ends to start healthy. Time to remind the world again that no matter what natural or relaxed hairstyle I or anyone else chooses, we are professional, we are intelligent, we are beautiful and no standard of professionalism can stop that, it is time to change the standard.

Because no matter what, you are Beautiful in every shade.

 

Welcome to 2016.

❤ Kelsi Rae

 

 

 

Natural Journey, 2 years!

I haven’t relaxed, majorly cut, or colored my hair in 2 years! That is a major accomplishment for someone who regularly did all of those things before that! I set out to transition and did so for 18 months

I went through a lot of hair styles throughout this journey, I rocked Marley twists, crochet braids, clip in extensions, wash and go’s, flat twists, two strand twists, twist outs, braids and about every other natural hair style I could think of. Most recently I decided to instal faux locs, I have been trying to decide if I wanted locs for a long time, pretty much since the beginning of my journey, I wanted to wait until after I got married,

I got married in August and installed my faux locs in October, three months later and I am more than ever convinced that I want to lock my hair. So here it goes, starting a new journey, true to my self I have scoured the internet, youtube and the locked nation of ladies in order to make my start and I am prepared for the stages of growth I hope. I have investigated palm rolling, interlocking, the pros and cons of product, should I have a loctition, should I start with extensions and I think I am ready to go. . . so let’s see 2016 here we come. . .

Here are a few of my styles over the past two years. . . updates on the locks as they come!

❤ Kelsi Rae

Color Blind or Color Brave?

I grew up in a small town, and by small I mean white, and by white I mean, known for its white supremacy church and ideology.

I grew up knowing all of the minority members of my community on one hand, and by that I mean 2. Me and a boy in my grade and we were both the only black children of white single mothers, didn’t exactly scream cultural pride. I grew up trying to mute my association with the Black community, a community I admittedly knew very little about. This was not the fault of my mother, who helped me with all my self driven research projects, into the old negro baseball teams and deciding at age 13 that I was going to go to a historically black college which died as I got into high school and realized all of the historically Black colleges were states away.  She did all of my research with me and appreciated all of my curiosity, but she just did not have any personal knowledge, so I fell farther and farther from my black roots. I was one of 9 out of 1900 black students in my high school, and in college the only black students I knew either played football or basketball, And at this point I was already not comfortable enough around people that “looked like me” to approach any of them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I dated black guys, the majority of guys I dated in college were black, but my real long term relationships have always been with white guys, as is my future husband. I can remember multiple occasions when the different guys I would date told me that they liked, or in some cases disliked the fact that I acted like a white girl. So thats what I became, the white black girl. If anyone even knows what that means? Well I do, I knew exactly what people would mean when they say it, and I internalized it. I became more nervous to enter a room of black people and disappoint them, than to be the only black person in the room.

So now I have entered a grad program that repeatedly tells us about being culturally responsive and we look and look at data and discrimination, and the disporpotionality of minorities in drop out rates, and the school to prison pipeline and suspensions. And now I am here, wanting to be color brace.

So what does this mean to me? I need to embrace the color of my skin I need to be the person that will stand up for what I believe in. I don’t want to hide behind the “i don’t know” response.  I don’t want to live in the “white black girl” stereotype. I have made changes in my life to do these with the people around me, when I am offended by an off hand comment I now call people out on it, I hope to educate people about how things are perceived and not accuse or castrate people.

I need to think about how I am going to represent myself in order to create value in the diversity for my students, and for the people in my community at large. I don’t think being color brave means saying everyone is the same, I think it means, everyone is different, and that is wonderful.

When I think being color brave I can remember being in high school reading Huckleberry Finn, as of course, the only member of the black community in English class, being asked in front of the entire class why does the word Nigger still offend black people? The class continued to tell me that, we needed to just get over it because it doesn’t mean anything and it hasn’t in like 100 years. At the time being a 16 year old girl I curled into myself, I muted the feelings that were coming up until I ran into the hallway, found a corner, and just cried. At the time I could not pinpoint the feeling I did not know what was happening but those assumptions, those kind of conversations should never happen in a classroom.

One person is not the representation of a race, one person is a representation of themselves. So to be Color Brace I will stand up for my students, I will ensure that they don’t have to feel that, at least in my class and that they are prepared to have those conversations when people, I will teach my students to see color, to embrace color and to embrace people. And if that is my contribution to the evolution of society if I can bring students into the world that understand the differences people bring and why we should embrace color and change then I will be happy.

I will create a small piece of society that is not afraid to talk about race, that is not afraid to embrace their identity, If I can make sure that one person does not ever mute their identity like I did, then I will have succeeded, I will be brave!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”-Socrates.  “The examined life is painful.”

❤ Kelsi Rae