Friday, January 9, 2009

Old School Friday: "I Need Love" by L.L. Cool J

From Electronic Village:

Ms. Grapevine and MarvalusOne have teamed up to create a weekly meme that we call, Old School Friday. It is our effort to post some music from the last millennium to relive some memories and to educate or just entertain each other.

The theme this week is Music From The Year You Graduated High School. Read more...

1987, baby! As I began college in the fall of that year, this cut by L.L. Cool J. was topping the R&B charts. Now, L.L. and his music were really not my type. (Men who constantly and lasciviously lick their lips give me the willies.) But I remember my little brother had this cassette (Yes, kids, I said cassette. Ask your parents about them.) and played it endlessly. Funny, looking back L.L.'s faux tough and oh-so-sensitive persona was so innocent.

Now, sing with me...When I'm alone in my room, sometimes I stare at the wall...

Dispatches from Nappyville: "Magic" hair

In my many disserations on natural black hair, I like to quote Thembi from What Would Thembi Do?. In a post last year, she pointed out that black women, apart from women of other racial groups, can live their entire lives not knowing what their natural hair looks like. That's deep. And no African-American woman who wears her hair natural doubts that it is true.

I dropped by CVS yesterday to pick up some toothpaste and bottled water (I hate CVS with it's dim, narrow aisles and strangely-tiny shopping carts. So glad to see more Walgreen's coming to town.) I brought my merchandise to a register run by a young, black woman sporting a dramatic synthetic-hair wig--long and stick-straight, Tyra-brown with highlights and chunky bangs. She stared openly at my head.

"I like your hair," she said. "What do you call that? How do they do that?

I stammered a bit, taken aback. I didn't know what to say. I don't call my hair anything. And they didn't do anything to it. I had worn my hair in twists for the first part of the week and yesterday I took them down in the morning, using one hand whilst Web surfing with the other. My 'do yesterday was a plain old twist out, done at home.

I explained, "I just had my hair in twists and took it down."

"Oh," the cashier said skeptically.

This interaction is typical. I've been having them since I "went natural" nearly two years ago. Some black women have no use for my hair, finding natural tresses ugly and unkempt. But the many black women who dig my kinky curls tend to think they are result of some special process, some new salon miracle. When I reveal that my mane is natural, some conclude that I must have "that good hair." "Girl, there is no way I could wear my hair natural. It is too [insert negative attribute here]. See, I have to perm my hair." It makes me sad, this universally accepted belief that black, natural hair that is soft, healthy and attractive must be magic hair--tamed by special potions or naturally imbued with positive attributes bestowed by some other-than-African blood into the bloodline.
I'm not sure, but I don't think women of other ethnicities are perplexed by seeing their sisters wearing hair in a way that works with its natural characteristics. For instance, I have yet to see a white woman approach another white woman and ask how she got her long, straight, brown hair into a ponytail. What do you call that? How did they do that?
If that cashier really knew her own hair, she would know that, treated well, it would likely look something like mine (No, all black hair is not the same.).
It's a pity.


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