Non-fiction Saturdays

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

There Is No Power In My Hair

They Must Have Thought So


M
any of you know that I cut my hair about eleven years ago — 7 inches and 1/2, to be exact. I love it short. I love being able to brush and go if I choose. If I want to curl it and give it a little flair, I do. I don’t spend hours under the dryer at the salon and maintenance and upkeep are minimal for me. I was reflecting on a time when I caught up with an ex-boyfriend who hadn’t seen me in a few years and as soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew he was going to say something about my hair. He did.

I could have sworn there was a light gasp in his words. What he said, I’ll never forget: “I liked your hair longer. What brought this about — this change?”

The same goes for an ex-lover of mine who peeked in on me during my Facebook days and saw a few pictures of me flaunting the cut. She sent word through a mutual friend of ours that she did not like it.

I Don’t Speak To Either Of Them.

There is no need. Not only did their reactions confirm who they thought I was yet who I am not, their actions told me that my hair is what made me, me. It didn’t. It doesn’t. I did something I had been wanting to do for years and never did it and one day, I did.

Some people seem to hold these insane beliefs about long hair. Some think it makes a woman more attractive — sexier. I beg to differ. Sensuality and sexiness are not linked to the amount of hair on a woman’s head, not to me.

Research from the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology indicates that a woman’s hair length doesn’t really affect her attractiveness that much. Study participants even judged short-haired figures as being more fertile, which contradicts the evolutionary-psych notion about long hair being an advertisement for reproductive suitability. — Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

Attractiveness to a woman is based on several factors for me: Can she read? Does she excel at what she does? When nude, does my mouth water? Does she strut in high-heeled shoes like a model, collecting the catwalk as her very own? Does she pay her bills on time and treat others like she’d want to be treated? There’s a whole lot of sexiness in those descriptions of a woman. Notice . . . her hair is not mentioned.

A woman who very much feels like a woman on the inside, 24 hours a day, can have short hair. I know—it’s hard for some men to wrap their minds around that. — Julia Austin

I drew the conclusion that both the ex-boyfriend and ex-lover had their personal preferences, just as we all do. One of the things that made me attractive to them was my long hair. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Did I want to be with anyone who clung to me based on the amount of hair on my head? Suppose I did stick it out with both of them and during our relationships, made the change? Would either of them have walked away because of it? Thankfully, I did not have to live out that scenario.


I had many trials during the years that led to me cutting my hair, relocating, finding a better job, and getting a dog were all major changes I assured myself I could do. I did them. Moving through the tumultuous time before my relocation from Georgia to North Carolina took patience, prayer, and perseverance. I told myself a bigger change would come my way.

Changing your hairstyle is not brave, and saying that it is is not a compliment. In my opinion, we all need to stop telling people that making conscious decisions about their appearance is “brave.” — Amanda Montell

There Is No Power In My Hair.

There never was. There never will be. I do believe that we can hold past pain, hurt, etc. in our hair — as we age, we need to shed a few things. To me, the weight of our hair is one of them. As you grow up, everything on your person, grows with you, including your hair. When I think back to the heaviness, thickness, and long “crown of glory” I had, I do not miss it. This is not to say that as I continue to age, I won’t gravitate toward letting it grow out once more. This is to simply say, I am comfortable with it short for now.

Having short hair has not changed the core of me. I still have the same eyes, lips, heart, and mind. I still want to be held when I am afraid. I yearn to be loved and understood in my deepest, darkest moments. I get emotional during sad movies. I am a badass cook. None of these things have changed.

If you are debating on cutting your hair, but you are pumping the brakes on that change in your life, think about why you’re debating. If another person’s view of you could change or you could offend your elders with your drastic leap away from long hair, how important is their satisfaction with you over your own?

If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that you won’t turn into a superhuman nor will any of what makes you who you are diminish. Nothing will be drained from your body and carried off to a shaman thousands of miles away to be concocted into a sacred serum for Hollywood stars to use to ward off aging.

You are not a fountain of youth. Take the leap if you want to. Forget what everyone else thinks. You have to live with the decisions you do not act upon just as you have to live with those you choose to make and see manifest into fruition.

A change could suit you.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.

The Damage is in the Eyes

Olayinka Babalola via Unsplash

He walks past her,
driven by alcoholic
motivation instead of her smile.
Their home is a soundless cave,
cracking in every corner.
She carries on,
her fingers tire of their daily
actions in the kitchen, in the bedroom.

The only thing keeping
her there is the new lease
on life she thought she’d have
with him.
The damage is in her eyes
but he cannot see it.

She struggles to make a life
work for them, she hasn’t given up.
It’s hard when you look
at someone you’ve loved for
decades and they turn into
someone you do not know.

She puts the kettle on the
stove for tea,
the hissing sound that follows
two minutes later wakes her
from a daydream.

She’s got to get out
of this Hell.

Hidden

For Every Black Man Waiting To Be Loved

Jurien Huggins via Unsplash

Hidden: An Audio Poem

she tricked you into thinking
you weren’t noticed — your smile
didn’t meet her in the middle,
yet I see you.

I watch as you struggle to exist
in a world bent on keeping you
hidden behind its sullen corners,
you are not what they expect

when they envision greatness.

I come to you, arms outstretched,
urging you to know my ways . . .
I want to calm your seas,
let me be your peace.

the caves for men aren’t designed
to home the wildest creatures,
we have to make our way —
we are not the boxing kind.

wrappers and bows.
garland and lights.
presentation is everything and
we put on a show.

come, dance in my direction.

I yearn to watch the little boy
emerge with his face aching
for the sunlight.
I know he’s there.

let me watch you
enchant this world around us,
give me the hope of a new season —
the flesh of a beating heart.

you haven’t allowed yourself
this kind of love in
nearly a lifetime, yet here I am . . .
flaunting it for you to touch.

I will not hide you, no . . .
not when something as beautiful
as you should be placed on the
front row of city buses.

no hesitations
no second thoughts
no reconsiderations

necessary.


Originally published on Medium.

The Moon is Envious

An Audio Poem

Adrianne Walujo via Mixkit.co

The Moon is Envious

you have more than questions that
need answers — you want to know
if the sun still shines on you, if the
jeans we purchased last year line
your curves without showing too much
and I stand there in front of
a seeking mirror watching you
watch yourself turn into this other
woman.

I trip on my tongue, forever lost
in finding the words that match
the situation. I want to write something instead,
but you are looking at me as I
fumble with my words in the air,
my lips — stuck in a temporary pause,
I utter, “I don’t know how to
tell you that nothing needs changing.”

I immediately get that this is
not the best response and again I
go searching for the right words while
you stare at this other woman
watching you watch her. The mirror
doesn’t change.

silence crowds the room — I part my
way back to you and offer another
response, one that could be better
than the last.
“Every pound is in its rightful place.
Even the moon is envious of you.
it wants to know why such a beautiful being
hides in the dark when she should be
outside lighting up the night.”

I’m no charmer, but you smile.
and my world shifts back into a safe space
because if you’re smiling — then everything’s
all right.
I watch you twirl around, pat your hip
with a quick slap, and flex your
heeled toes. You change your attire.
You model another outfit and
I flop my flimsy body down
on the bed. I am your audience.

the mirror invites you back . . .
you’ve wrapped your body
in a long, black dress. your naked shoulders
sing a somber tune.
slumped in front of this other woman,
you begin sizing up the inches of your waist.
I flit between clapping and throwing confetti.
my heart asks for an encore,
my tongue knows not to form the words.

still, you stand there. waiting for the other
woman to make you feel better
and I know that my words, applause,
confetti, charm, love, and analogies
carry no weight.

you are too busy attempting
to shed pounds — and the only
thing the other woman wants
you to do is notice that
she’s beautiful enough
to cause an envious moon.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.


*“Take your time and your talent and figure out what you have to contribute to this world, and get over what the hell your butt looks like in those jeans!” — America Ferrera (Cosmo for Latinas in 2012)

What I Learn From the Black Men in My Life

Part III: Breathe, it gets better

Photo by Beth Tate on Unsplash

Two men: both of them I have known for more than fifteen years — they are close to me. I love them. I try my best to understand them. I want nothing more than to always support them. And I pray that this world sees the beauty in them just as I do. I thought, “How can I have the world listen to them for several minutes? What can I do to gift someone other than myself the opportunity to get a glimpse of walking in their shoes?” The idea that turned into the words you see before you. I asked them poignant, in-depth questions about being men of color in this world today to see where it would take us. This is the third and final installment of this series.


It pains me somewhat to bring this series to a close, but a new project is already shaping itself in my heart and mind and will include snippets of their perspectives of this world from the various men and women in my life and will probably be a prose-poetry piece, so that is some consolation. Dre, like me, has been anxious for the publishing of each part of this series as we both wanted to see who our work would touch, speak to, and inspire.

He has been steadfast throughout this project — ready and willing to answer anything thrown his way and is supportive of every step we have taken to bring this project to light. It has been this project’s practice to begin with Dre and for this installment, that remains the same.

“While incarcerated, were you ever harassed for your arrest? Did other inmates attack or belittle you in any way? If so, how do you think that has shaped you?”

“I can’t say I was harassed at all. It didn’t change much of who I was. I was still quiet, reserved, and observant; as well as cool and down to earth. However, in prison, the weak are preyed upon so you have to develop some type of toughness or suffer the consequences. Funny thing is, being from Savannah, Georgia, you learn that there’s an unspoken brotherhood no matter if you knew any of the men prior to being incarcerated or if there was any type of hostility within any of them. In prison, Savannah stuck together, so there was no harassment from other cities. It shaped me to be alert in a sense, at all times, and always on guard — ready for the unexpected.”

However, in prison, the weak are preyed upon so you have to develop some type of toughness or suffer the consequences.

When I learned of Dre’s incarceration, I immediately thought, “I wonder how he held up. What happened to him and how did he survive it?” Dre’s incarceration took place while I was in college. I did not know about it until after his release. I knew him well enough before those years were taken away from him to know that he would survive this battle. I felt he would win that war. I was right. Every new day he is given is shaping him into the brilliant man that I know and reminds me of the persistent, observant, and inquisitive boy with whom I grew up.

“If you could say whatever you wanted to the arresting officers, what would it be?”

“I don’t know — really . . . I would ask why didn’t they investigate more to see if I was the person involved instead of just running with the first person (they could find) and probably the only person they thought was the criminal.”

Dre’s situation is one I have read about, one I have seen in movies — and one I learned about through word of mouth. I didn’t personally know of any cases of mistaken identity, cases of rushed or lack of thorough investigation, and cases of “arrest first, ask questions later” that hit so close to home. Dre has moved through the toughest part of his life and is an example of someone who is beating the odds.

My last question is one I thought I should ask — its relevance is pertinent to Dre’s life, what he has learned, and what he is enduring from it — both good and bad things.

“What advice would you give another young, Black man wrongfully accused, arrested, and incarcerated? How would you tell him how to survive while doing time?”

“ I would tell him: find a way to keep your mind active with some type of positivity. Don’t just sit in there stagnant. Stay away from those plotting to do more crimes upon release. And although it hurts and even when you feel all alone, life isn’t over but you have to want to succeed more than you want to succumb to the environment around you. Trust me, you can make it out here once released despite the felony on your record. But it will take hard work and determination. It’s beyond possible.”

Don’t just sit in there stagnant. Stay away from those plotting to do more crimes upon release.

I read through Dre’s responses. I sat with them and pulled the pain, anguish, and optimism from each one. He has sustained. He is sustaining. He has not been torn down. One of the things we both wanted to take place with this project is a connection — for someone to read this and feel it if they need to. Sometimes, it only takes one person to grasp something that has been said, share it with someone else, and the message moves without the messengers touching it.

This is our greatest hope for this project. As the years pile on, I know that my friend and I will continue to build upon what we have created and share our life’s experiences with those willing to hear them.

This is Dre. He is a loyal friend, a source of wisdom, beaten yet not broken, and a faithful follower of Christ. I have more to learn from him and I look forward to it.


Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

Vic has his running shoes on — chasing his dream. He is creating art at a faster than normal pace due to an upcoming art exhibit to be hosted in Austin, Texas, in December 2019. While he was working on his contributions to the exhibit, I worried this project would interfere with his creative output. It has not. He has been more than willing to [move forward and] finish what we started. For this, I am grateful. But then again, that’s just Vic. I have learned over the years, he is a keeper of his word. If he says it, you can take it to the bank. And since he is getting his affairs in order for what could be a momentous event in his life, I felt it only fair to build the questions of our last installment around his future endeavors.

“You will soon have the opportunity to showcase your work again. How will you use this event to your advantage?”

“I actually plan to wash and repeat the method of going to galleries that host the art of my interests and speak with the owners. It’s how this opportunity came together. This event is great for putting my name and work out there for sure.”

But then again, that’s just Vic. I have learned over the years, he is a keeper of his word. If he says it, you can take it to the bank.

“Being a man of color, specifically a Honduran (Black Hispanic), living in the South, have you found it harder to network and build a name for yourself and your art?”

“What has made things hard for me is my unwillingness to jump out there — really just a lack of confidence in my art. In my opinion, art could possibly be that one space on earth where talent brings forth a bit more of a level playing field.”

Vic’s response to my second question is one in which I too, have struggled — lack of or not enough confidence in my work. Until recently, I dwelled in the shadows of fear and did not take many chances when it came to sharing my work through various outlets and reaching out to publications of interest. Things began to change significantly when I removed the crippling aspects of fear from my daily habits of operation. The task now is to continue to pursue these connections I have made in hopes of continued growth and finding a bigger audience for my work. It is an eye-opener and a thing of beauty to see Vic doing the same thing.

“Have there been any helpful devices and tools for your art at your job? Or, is your job set up for functionality and production based on the company’s brand? How has this stifled your growth as an artist?”

“There have been ‘ah-ha’ moments at my job, so far as what I can do with the software. Creating or aligning customer provided graphics and making sure those graphics are screenprint-ready is my primary job. So, all in all, yes, there are helpful devices in aiding the functionality and production, which we’ve been busy with these past two months of which I am appreciative. Stifling? Well, there’s also that. I don’t do much vector work at home as I once did. (See: F.U. Robot.) But it has led me back to more analog pursuits like said art show coming up soon.”

Vic has learned that his work will not reach a bigger audience without some additional help from others within the industry in positions of being able to catapult his artwork to higher heights and he has also learned that the move in that direction begins with him. Asking him the questions I prepared for this project has opened up my creative world significantly. From Vic, I have found that if we remain silent in our creative corners or comfortable with our old ways of creativity, we will never reach our goals. It begins with us. We must push our art to where we want it. No one else will do it for us.

This is Vic. A fellow artist, a die-hard motivator, and a great friend. I believe as we grow older, we will become more comfortable and confident in our work and less afraid to share it. He is teaching me that we must have a starting point in order to finish. I look forward to the years ahead.


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This project is one of great importance to me and I am ecstatic simply because we have been able to come together as a team to finish this. We started off with an incredibly high level of momentum and I know the three of us have maintained it. Our purpose here is clear: to connect with others who may need to share their story but would benefit from a starting point or boost from someone else.

We’ve put our truths out in the universe. —Vic

When I think about how much I have learned and what I will learn from the men of color in my life, I become filled with joy and love. I am also filled with hurt, anguish, and some despair. There will always be struggles for anyone simply trying to move further along in life, however, these struggles are made harder for People of Color.

I want to thank both of these men for continuing this series with me and giving me more to digest as it pertains to life and the ways of this world for a man of color. Andre Murray and Victor Garcia — here you will find their voices. Here, you will find their hearts. To know the struggles of those I love and watch them excel despite their previous circumstances or take notice of how they press on without giving up stirs a sense of action in me.

I will not give up. I know the importance of breathing after all.

It does get better.


Originally published in Our Human Family via Medium.

Part I
Part II