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Grow Up, Will You?

The younger natural Charish, before “womanhood.”

Sorry for being M.I.A. lately, but things have been a little hectic on this end. Have no fear, I’m back and with a smidge more attitude. I was at the last meeting of my workshop group “For Colored Girls” and today’s topic was about, you guessed it. . . hair!

One of the young ladies spoke of her experience of talking to black men about natural hair and let me say, our group got a little heated. We were upset by this particular young man’s response to: “What kind of hair do you like to see on women.” He admitted that he was into “a loose coil.”

A loose coil?

We were shocked by his use of our vernacular. I didn’t know any man could articulate different hair types like that. We were even more shocked that he also said, “I don’t like that afro stuff. No afro puffs.” Hrumph, was what I said. Now, let’s add another dimension to his tale: Did you know this man was black? I could have guessed, but shit, why a brother gotta be like that?

I’ve experienced this kind backlash from black men who don’t understand or don’t appreciate the natural state of hair. You can argue that it’s because of a long line of media depictions of black beauty or just physical preference. Either way, a natural needs support and it’s disheartening that some black men are not available. Check out this video:

Sunshine couldn’t have put it better: The black guys were TRIIIIIIIIPPPING!! One things that screamed at me was one black man told the subject of this video “natural hair was for little girls and grown women NEED to get their hair relaxed.”
WHAT?! Are you’re telling me my natural hair is prohibiting my growth as a woman? 

I know if Noah told me such mess, we wouldn’t be married. I chalk it up to these boys unable to grow up themselves. It’s an incredibly immature response to the way a woman carries herself. I got no problem with the way women wear their hair. If you want to rock a natural or a weave down to your ass, I want that to be up to YOU. I want you to make that decision without any pressure or expectations. You need to do you.  Don’t raise a crazy high bar of expectation and make me pole vault over it!

I also chalk it up to some black men seeing something in us that reminds them of their own blackness. It’s in their minds not our hair. The heritage they’re avoiding is messing with their heads. This leads to a perverse transference of insecurity unto us.

I have written in a past blog post about my hair relationship with my husband, a white man. I can tell you that the white men I’ve run into have fully supported my afro. The ones that don’t, I don’t hear anything from, so I couldn’t tell you what their deal is. A white man’s reasons for loving lush voluminous black hair are their own and sometimes those reasons can get “hairy.” (A discussion about natural hair adoration bordering on exoticism will have to be saved for another post).

But I also have to tell you that I hate to generalize on this topic and want to remind you (and myself) that not all black men share this opinion. I’ve gotten some interestingly positive feedback from black men about my afro. Some have fallen over themselves trying to “hollar” at me. Some have been utterly fascinated that leave the house like this, in a good way. Noah and I were walking around the local mall when I was sporting a freshly picked fro. When a group of black men passed us, Noah said that one of them murmured to him: “Good job, man.” I know that this particular young man was not a “natural-hater” and it made me a little prouder.

There are more young brothers like that out in the world. I’m certain of it. Sunshine also said that it could be a generational issue. Well, until all black men can get on the same page, I recommend you keep your heads up and be you. Maybe one day, they’ll grow up and get on your level.


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Packed the Fro and Took it to Bangkok


This is an old blog post from my days in Thailand.
If you want to read more a black chick’s adventures in Bangkok, go here

That’s me writing this blog. In my fro. You all have seen it, no big deal. Here in Bangkok, even with their progressive fashion sense, it is a HUGE deal.

So Monday, I stepped out on the street in a gray pencil skirt, blue blouse and cream colored pumps. There was never a hotter English teacher in all of Thailand.

And the people knew it.

The Thai teachers were amazed. The kids were enthralled. The two sisters, who own the restaurant I go to, gave me a thumbs up! Of course, there were blank stares. Those I expected immediately.

“Teacha! Teacha!” screamed a group of girls.
“Yes?”
“You are BEAUTIFUL!” They all ran around, arms circled above their head, giggling like mad. There is the occasionally pointing and staring, there are giggles, but I say it all beats having to straighten my hair obsessively for the next four months.

I couldn’t believe how big an issue hair would be before I came over here. To tell the truth I feel like I did very little to prepare for this trip, hair was probably the last thing on my mind. Friends and family did ask my what I would do about the it.

Leave it as is, I guess. I don’t know.

However, when I got here, I chickened out. I wore it in a bun, a ponytail, and then I started to straighten it. A hot press job takes a good hour to complete on a good day. On a bad day, (going from an afro to straight locks) maybe two hours.

I don’t have that kind of time! I can’t possibly wake up earlier than I already do just to fry my hair! Only for it to frizz up in this wet and humid weather anyway. For that reason, there was no way I could keep it up.

Another reason was the enthusiasm my co-worker Ploy had for my straight do as opposed to other days. “Ahh Charish, your hair look beautiful! Wear it like that all the time, yeah?” Or whenever we had a meet and greet with school officials. “Look beautiful tomorrow, yeah?”

uh. . . no.

Never been too fond of people telling how to look. I broke down and combed it out. The first afro outside of the house was to a bar. At this particular bar, women, who I believe were prostitutes, swarmed me immediately. The “madam” asked me if it was real. Sure it was, who would willingly fake this? About ten hookers began patting my hair.
“Oooh. . . aaah!”

Interesting first.

Just today, the third day of the fro, a student asked if I got it at Khaosan Rd. I was puzzled. Got what? My hair? I tugged at it and told her. This is mine. I didn’t get it anyhere. My student was amazed.
“You grow?”
I nodded.
“WOW!”

Yeah, well. The fro is not going anywhere. I think it’s going to be a staple.


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National Afro Day

This 4th of July, take back your freedom from the chemical imperialists! Too long you have been nervous to leave house without slicking back your edges or straightening your bangs. Put all of that madness aside for today and wear it FREE! Live Free and Pick Proud! Show solidarity with your brothers and sisters on this day and wear your afro proudly.