Recalling the Black Hair Care HELL of Holy Weeks and Easters Past

Silhouette of a woman wearing a stylish broad-brimmed hat

In honor of Easters past, I’ve composed a little secular Easter carol in homage to every little Black girl (like me!) who had to endure the yearly ritual of getting your naturally kinky hair straightened with the hot comb for Easter Sunday. 

Every year it was the same. Your mom knocked herself out getting you dressed up so you could look all shiny and new at Easter Sunday church service – and so the relatives wouldn’t talk about you or her! That meant getting a pretty new dress, shiny new shoes, and straight, slicked back hair.

First Lady and President Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia 2015 Easter photo
The Obamas looking effortlessly stylish as usual. Don’t be fooled though! It can take a lot of hard labor to get Black women’s hair perfectly pressed and laid.

The process was no joke. It could take HOURS of washing, drying, and then sitting in a chair to get your natural hair straightened. You had to sit ABSOLUTELY STILL if you wanted to avoid the hot comb burning your scalp, neck, or ears. Meanwhile, your relatives would be sitting around gawking at you through this whole kitchen hair salon process as if you were a sideshow attraction. And God help you if you were tenderheaded!!! (Okay, even I wasn’t quite THAT bad…I think. Anyway, tenderheadedness is treated much more scientifically nowadays, thanks to improved hair care products for natural or straightened Black hair.)

And there was no escape. Back then thought of leaving your hair natural for Easter was tantamount to standing in the aisle of your grandmother’s Baptist church and claiming you didn’t believe in Jesus. Folks wouldn’t just flip out. They’d start gathering kindling for the witch burning. Yes, it’s fair to say that basically, the pain of having your scalp burned and your hair yanked, processed or singed straight amounted to a station of the cross of Black womanhood. * starts clapping and singing * Now let us all, all go back, to the old, Old Landmark…

…Um, where was I? Oh yes…

It’s not quite the same, but, if you want to get some sense of the process from the old days, check out this little video of an 1940s English hairdresser chemically straightening a light-skinned African woman’s hair. The hair is hot combed at the end.

Continue reading Recalling the Black Hair Care HELL of Holy Weeks and Easters Past

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Happy…Spring?

Oh yeah, feel that warm spring sunshine! Mmm, mmm, ain’t it grand? Don’t forget your sunblock though! *weeps softly while waiting for the snow fall to end*

Winter snow fall seen through the screen in my apartment window
Take a look at the first and (hopefully) last winter snow storm of winter 2018. And they call this the first day of spring * sigh *

 

Cathy’s Half Price Books rekindles my love of book shopping

Cathy's Half Price Books used books bookstore in Havertown PA
Cathy’s Half Price Books, located in the Manoa Shopping Center, 305 West Chester Pike, Havertown, PA 19083, open Monday – Saturday 10 am to 8 pm all week. Closes at 6 pm on Sundays. Call them at 610-924-0988 or email cs@cathysbooks.com

If you’re like me, you’re still mourning the death of Borders bookstores. And it’s been a long hard slog to find a replacement. I make regular pilgrimages to the Barnes and Noble at Plymouth Meeting Mall to browse the stacks and linger at the coffee bar. But it’s just not the same. The Borders bookstore in Wynnewood was my pub! I can’t count the number of days when I fled to the Wynnewood Borders to wash away the pain of a crappy job, mounting bills, or toxic people. It had an atmosphere of welcome that Barnes and Noble hasn’t quite managed to replicate. So now I have no pub. It’s all a bit sad to be honest.

So imagine how my little book lover’s heart skipped a beat when I rediscovered Cathy’s Half Price Books in Havertown! Over the last few months, this bookstore has become my go-to spot when I need a little pick me up without going broke. I used to buy books like some women buy shoes. I could never get enough. Various stints of unemployment have killed that little budget-buster. But I still need my literary fix without breaking the bank.

Enter Cathy’s Half Price Books to save the day!

Continue reading Cathy’s Half Price Books rekindles my love of book shopping

(Belated) Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year cake 2018_Cin CinYep, I’m a month late but I wanted to celebrate. I FINALLY got to try Chinese New Year cake! Yay!!! A friend and I had dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant in Philly, Cin Cin. Cin Cin has been a staple of the upscale Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia for more than 20 years.

I’ve actually been going to this restaurant for over 20 years and I’ve never had bad food or bad service. They are FANTASTIC! Always polite and welcoming. So thought I’d give a shout out to Cin Cin and share a taste of their Chinese New Year cake. It was piping hot (so wait for it to cool a bit before biting into it!). But it was sweet, tasty, and a perfect dessert to follow dinner. So check it out while Cin Cin still has their Chinese New Year menu available. Check ’em out: 7838 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118, 215-242-8800. They deliver!

Tracing the Musical Contours of the Elusive Chanteuse: A Review of “Me. I Am Mariah…”

(Note: As I figure out how to focus this blog I’m going to indulge myself in reviewing some of my favorite books, albums, TV shows, movies and whatever else strikes my fancy. I might even throw in a social commentary or two…well more than two! So watch this space!)

What a criminally underrated album! From the opening notes of her debut single “Vision of Love” I was a Mariah fan. No, I’m not a lamb; sorry dah-ling! The Emancipation of Mimi follow-ups – E=MC2 and Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel – left me cold. Aside from the songs Side Effects and Migrate on the first and Angels Cry and Languishing on the latter, I couldn’t care less. I bought them. I listened to a few tracks here and there. And then I dropped them in the  back of the drawer.

This though, THIS, this is the stuff. It’s evident right from the first peal of those churchy piano chords that open Cry. If you grew up on real Old School R&B like I did (I’m talking Earth, Wind and Fire; Stevie Wonder; Minnie Ripperton; LTD; The Commodores; the Isley Brothers; Phyllis Hyman; Stephanie Mills, Angela Bofill, et al) you’d know immediately this was one of the best damn albums Mariah has done. Ever.

Continue reading Tracing the Musical Contours of the Elusive Chanteuse: A Review of “Me. I Am Mariah…”

“Flash” stars to debut short film

Hmm, looks like Generation X and a Millennial rob a bank. Does a Baby Boomer get shot? * snerk * Here’s the official trailer:

 

Cheddar Man, Black skin and all that…

Okay since it’s once again Black history month and folks are flipping out about genetic tests showing that Cheddar Man (the 10,000-year old skeletal remains of a native Briton) was dark-skinned, I figure this might be the appropriate time to lay this on you.

Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop tackled ALL of this back in his book Civilization or Barbarism. If I recall correctly, he believes this is how white skin evolved:

Continue reading Cheddar Man, Black skin and all that…