Friday, August 25, 2006

PictureShare: 1981-2006

me (age 5, age 30) mums sis & nephew

Thursday, August 24, 2006

werd: cogitation



1. Thoughtful consideration; meditation.
2. A serious thought; a carefully considered reflection.

What is this thing? A stirring from the depths perhaps.

film explores importance of natural hair

Film explores importance of natural, black hair styles
Documentary spotlights black women, men who wear their hair natural
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Michelle Farris-Lewis, 37, a school counselor and independent filmmaker, said six years ago her daughter's hair was so damaged by a perm that she had to cut it.

"I permed her hair (when) she was in the first grade," said Farris-Lewis, who grew up in South Park and graduated from Jack Yates High School.

"It fell out. I found myself having to cut off all of her hair."

Farris-Lewis said she wanted to make her daughter feel comfortable, so she cut her own hair and they both began wearing their hair in its' natural state, void of chemical relaxers.

That bonding experience soon became the beginning of a documentary, New Growth: The Natural Progression, which celebrates blacks who wear their hair naturally.

"I found out there were a lot of women who have gone through hair loss due to chemicals," Farris-Lewis said.

Farris-Lewis recently shot footage for her documentary at Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center & Bookstore, 5309 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Georgette Johnson-Whaley, 30, said twelve years ago, while a student at Texas Southern University, she permed her hair so frequently that she too suffered hair loss.

The Third Ward resident said she met a lot of students from the East Coast who wore their hair natural and she began to wonder what she'd look like with her hair natural.

She said she doesn't recall ever seeing her hair the way God intended.

"I said if it is falling out now and I am only 18, what will it look like in 10 to 20 years," Johnson-Whaley said. She said that day she made a choice to cut it off and start all over.

Johnson-Whaley said as her natural hair began to grow, she went through a period of self-discovery. She said she didn't know what to do with her hair or how to style it. Johnson-Whaley said she began to read every book she could find on natural hair care, but information was limited.

"I said I am committing to this, I need to know everything I can because I am not going back to perms," Johnson-Whaley said.

Johnson-Whaley said if she didn't know what to do with her natural hair there were probably others with the same problem. She decided to go to cosmetology school and in 1997 began working for Soul Scissors Barber Shop as a natural hair stylist.

A little more than a year ago she opened Soul Sister Natural Haircare, a natural hair care salon located at 1716 Rosewood.

Johnson-Whaley's husband, Christopher Whaley, 31, stopped cutting his hair three years ago and allowed his natural hair to grow, mesh and entwine together to form what is called dreadlocks.

Whaley said when he was a teen he wanted to wear dreadlocks but his father wouldn't let him. Whaley said he colored his hair like Dennis Rodman and wore his hair chemically-processed before finally letting it grow naturally.

"I'm a firm believer in the Old Testament in the Bible, I really believe my strength comes from my hair," Whaley said.

Whaley, a poet and an avid blogger, wrote "Represent," a poem expressing his love for natural hair. He said he chose to participate in the film just to have an opportunity to talk about the beauty of natural hair.

"It's long overdue for the story to be told," Whaley said.

Stephanie Houston, 18, a Katy resident, also suffered hair loss due to chemicals and has now worn her hair natural for almost three years.

An honor student and graduate of Cypress Springs High School, Houston said her dermatologist told her that her hair could no longer take perms.

She said the nurse told her to trust the doctor or her hair would continue being damaged.

"I kept doing it and it kept breaking," Houston said. She said she was going bald and decided it just didn't make sense to continue chemically-processing her hair.

"I decided to go natural and it worked for me," Houston said, but admits it was hard to adjust.

"I feel like hair is such an important issue in the black community," Houston said, adding she was nervous about wearing her hair au natural.

"For a lot of people it is such a psychological block in their heads."

Houston, who will be a freshman at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the fall, said wearing her hair natural helped her self-esteem.

"Dealing with my hair half broken off worked on my self-esteem," Houston said, adding the move made her feel more self-confident.

"It made me so free. I don't need a perm to make me look good, I can wear my hair natural and still be 'the bomb.' "

West Chase resident and Realtor Chinnell Hardy said it wasn't hair loss that prompted her to cut her hair and wear it natural.

"I just did it at the spur of the moment; it was not a long, thought-out calculated move," said Hardy, 34.

"The (stylist) had a short platinum blond Afro, I asked her to cut all of the relaxer out of my hair and style it like hers and she did. I felt confident, I felt validated. I really did."

That was six years ago, and Hardy said since then she's worn a short, natural Afro with no regrets.

"I'm not spending a lot of money on relaxers and keeping that up," Hardy said, adding it takes four minutes to comb her hair.

"Compared to having to unwrap it, curl it, flat iron it, it's just very, very low maintenance."

Now a member of an online natural hair group based in Australia, Hardy said she tries to attend any local gatherings about natural hair care.

"I was very intrigued about (the documentary), I wanted to see what it was about," Hardy said.

"I like to learn their stories, why they did it, you know, like-minded people. I felt like the way I choose to wear my hair is OK, and no one is going to question it."

Houston City Councilwoman Ada Edwards, 63, said she's worn her hair natural most of her life.

"I wore the press and curl and I decided it was too much trouble because I was so active in sports," Edwards said.

She said she's worn a short natural, a bush natural, and back and forth, before deciding to wear braids. Edwards said in 1983 she started wearing her hair in locks.

"I don't look at my hair being outside of me," Edwards said, adding that it's interesting the relationship black women have with their hair.

"It dates back to wanting to be accepted in society, I understand that. I don't consider it political."

Edwards said her children, ages 35 to 45 years, choose to wear their hair natural, but not because she encouraged them to do so.

She said her granddaughters, ages 3 to 16 years, wear their hair natural as well as her 14-year-old grandson, who she said sports an Afro. An 18-year-old grandson chooses to wear his hair cut short.

"There seems to be a new surgence among young black women to wear their hair natural. I think it's just women saying, 'I need a little freedom,' " Edwards said.

Braeburn Oaks resident, Reginald Forch Jr., 39, said in 2001 he experienced a spiritual evolution and after 17 years of cutting his own hair, he decided to let it grow.

"This is not a cosmetic, superficial trend, it was an innate need for a personal change based on some studies I have done," said Forch, who participated in the documentary.

"People have been conditioned to adhere to values that go totally against their natural spirit," Forch said.

"It's sad that we even have to celebrate our hair."


"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business." Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
- Steven Wright

right on steven!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

it doesn't interest me.....

what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
for your dream,
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy,
mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful,
to be realistic,
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul;
if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty,
even when it's not pretty,
every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure,
yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,


It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up,
after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone,
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not
shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you,
from the inside,
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

~~ oriah mountain dreamer

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

against your skin

Against your skin I lay
within the space tears are stilled,
fears are silenced
and wholeness is gained
for this is the part and parcel of love...

Our unity is the bane of fury, the means of joy,
the antithesis of loneliness...
placed before us are the angered in the face of love.
we are formidable. We are one.

at this moment, nothing else seems to matter.