28 and Freaking Out.

As a gal in the midst of her 28th year, I’m realizing I’m looking down the barrel at the ol’ 3-0. I know, I know, I know, “20 is the new 30″, which is a trendy and convenient thing to say when you’re in my position, but no matter– I’m kinda starting to freak out.

And apparently it’s…perfectly normal?

I don’t want to get mystical on you guys, but I’m going to get mystical on you guys. Hear me out.

Have you ever heard of Saturn’s Return? According to the astrological world, it takes Saturn 29 years to return to the same place it was at your birth. It’s during this phase of Saturn’s Return that we go through a period of testing, questioning, shifting and evolving that ultimately ends with the dust settling and you emerging with a new perspective, goals and course in life. It’s supposedly this first Saturn Return that is the most difficult because it coincides with the firm end of childhood and entry into adulthood.

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Whether you’re into astrology or not, I think that there is something to be said about this bridge between your 20′s and 30′s and how you navigate that.

I turned 28 several months ago and since then my life has felt a bit unsettled and has thrown some pretty serious ups and downs my way. Coupled with the fact that my body just doesn’t seem as young as it used to in some ways (hangovers!? aches and pains!?!? WTF!?!), I’m pretty darn sure that I’m in the throes of my Saturn’s Return! I’m never too shy about letting you in on what’s going on in my life, so I thought I’d share that things are seemingly a little wonky over in my neck of the woods right now.

I found this great Saturn Return Survival Guide over on Galadarling.com that I thought I’d share with you. While these lessons and learnings seem to be particularly pertinent to me right now, I think we can all appreciate the wisdom they hold.

Never compare yourself to anyone else.

No matter what stage you’re at right now, that is the exact place you should be. We all move, grow & mature at different times, but that doesn’t make any of us better or worse than one another. Someone may have their career all figured out but their relationships are a mess, while you might have your spirituality on lock but haven’t learned to save any money yet. It’s okay. You’ll get there. Take it one day at a time.

Take responsibility for your thoughts & actions.

I say this over & over & over, but now is REALLY the time to put it into action! You will never be in control of your life or your emotions until you start to own up to everything you think & everything you do.

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FINALLY! I’m 100% Natural.

Here’s the thing: I absolutely LOVED having colored hair. I thought it enhanced my skintone and eye color and allowed me to show off my unique texture in a really great way. Thing is, over the past few months, I really and I mean really started to miss my natural hair color.

The anxiety started to plague me in my sleep (y’all know I get weird hair anxiety dreams) and I started to think about how gray hair is probably just around the corner for me (le sigh). Each day that passed, I started to hate the little straggling blonde curls and even pulled out the scissors and cut a few off myself. When I saw the damaged ends after my most recent adventure in straightening, I new that it was time to cut it off.

Sitting down in Marie’s chair, I explained that I just wanted the blonde gone.

“You’re going to be able to see your scalp, you know,” she explained.

“I know. Just cut it.”

And cut it she did.

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The result was shorter hair than I’ve EVER had before, but I’m absolutely enamored with my natural texture AND color. As I said earlier, I loved having colored hair, but there’s no question that it is a chemical process that altered the texture and integrity of my curls. I definitely fell off on the care front, for some reason short hair doesn’t seem as though it needs as much deep conditioning and pampering as long curls (although this is probably not at all true.)

Knowing me and my whims of style, I will certainly be back to color sometime in the future, but for now that I’m back to fully natural, my hair is softer and more shiny than I can remember!!

My Must See TV (no spoilers)

Its taken me YEARS to admit to being an avid TV watcher. I don’t own a TV so I can roll around all smug and say that, but HELLOOOOO—with the internet and there about a bazillion different ways in which I keep up with all sorts of high (and low) quality broadcasting. So yea. I watch TV, I love it and I’m in pretty deep on a few shows that are all starting soon (or have already started) this fall and I just COULDN’T be happier! Here’s a rundown of my must sees:

1. SCANDAL

I got into Scandal first through hate-watching it. You know, where you watch something because you’re so morbidly fascinated about how bad it is. Then I kept watching it and before I knew it, I was HOOKED and wrote a post on why I think it’s a smart show. Good lawd this show is good/bad!! It also has a gloriously long season, so I know I can get my Scandal on from now thru the end of May or something ridic.

Premieres Thursday October 3 AKA TONIGHT!!!!

KERRY WASHINGTON

2. Parks and Recreation

For some reason, this show just brings out the waterworks with me. I can’t explain it, but I’ve shed a tear at least 5 times watching this comedic sitcom. Weird, right? …I think that when these characters are happy it’s so sweet and pure. <3

On the other hand, Ron Swanson with his Pyramid of Greatness is my hero and Jean-Ralphio is one of my most favorite people in the world.

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Premiered September 26

3. HOMELAND

ZOMG HOMELAND IS THE JAM. This show had me hook line and sinker after a single episode. After last season’s finale peeps were all like “wtf, Homeland is soooooo unrealistic now.” But, uh….it’s that the point of TELEVISION? I want this ish to be AS unrealistic as possible, especially this show and all its domestic terrorism mindf***ery. Bring on the bipoalar bomb squad that is this Showtime gem!

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Premieres Sunday September 29

4. Girls

Reminds me of girls I know from college. And I heard there’s a black chick on the show this season. I’m intrigued.

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Premieres: uhhhh….this is devestating…. Last year, Girls was a fall premiere, but apparently it’s not back on until 2014 and I didn’t find this info out until looking it up for this post. BUMMER.

5. Downton Abbey

If you’re a Downton fan, you’re probably thinking “ummmm…that doesn’t start til January, dood!”. FALSE, my friend, FALSE! The US version premieres in January, while the UK version started last week. God bless the internet for allowing me to watch it on that lovely UK schedule.

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Premiered September 22

HONORABLE MENTION

The Boondocks

It’s not a new show by any means, but thanks to the wonder that is On Demand, I recently got into Boondocks. I grew up loving the comic strip in the Sunday paper and this show is absolutely ON POINT. Season 4 starts in 2014 sometime, but until then I’m plowing thru Seasons 1-3. It’s pretty magical. Case in point (warning: LANGUAGE!)

Wait, WHO launched a new natural hair product???!!!!!

During my day spent cruising the natural hair product aisle with, I had a grand ol’ time recommending a bunch of my favorite products to attendees. I was pretty impressed that of the 15 or so brands in the aisle, I had pretty much tried them all EXCEPT for one product, that I had never seen or heard of before.

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At first I glazed over the product line, being like, okay so VIBE Magazine has a hair product line. Then it hit me: WAIT A SEC: VIBE MAGAZINE has a hair product line for naturals!

That’s like Vogue starting a line of haute couture gowns. Town & Country releasing a suite of adirondack chairs (or something equally home-y and preppy). Allure creating a line of lipsticks. Martha Stewart launching a line of home products…oh wait.

According to VibeVixen.com:

Our line doesn’t just have pretty packaging and a cute name, we really are different. All products contain coconut oil, argon oil, and olive oil and when combined, they create an amazing tri-complex blend of awesome-ness. “The oils are proportioned such that your hair receives the maximum benefit from each ingredient which offers a variety of benefits,” says VIBE Beauty Expert and VP & Global Creative Director Lindsay Ebbin.

(sic)

I will admit that I’m totally intrigued, but also a little bit skeptical as it seems like yet another attempt trying to cash in on the natural hair movement, but I will not make any final judgements until I actually try the products themselves.

What do you think? Have you tried Vibe Natural Curl Therapy? Let us know!!

Shop The Aisle Wrap Up

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in Shop The Aisle. As a blogger, people are always asking what they should use and where they should get it, but it’s very difficult to make expert recommendations when you’re taking an assessment over the interwebs.

Enter: Shop The Aisle, which allowed me to actually talk to people, hear their stories and touch their hair in an effort to be able to send them home with the tools and knowledge they needed! It was really fun to be able to mix’n'match the products from sponsors including, Shea Moisture, UR Curly, Beautiful Textures, CurlMAX, Curl Care by Dr. Miracles, EDEN Bodyworks, Curls and Curls Unleashed. Attendees not only got to chat and shop with myself and Danyelle of SF Bay Area Naturals, but also went home with a goodie bags of products!

Thanks to all of you who came out and thank you to Charlette and DeAnthony of Shop The Aisle for making the trek across the country to support the Bay Area natural hair community! Here’s a few pictures from our day spent at the Walmarts of San Leandro and Oakland! If you want to be notified of future Bay Area events by NaturalSelectionBlog, enter your info into the sign up form on the right sidebar.

In Which I Straightened My Hair (???????)

If there is one person that shouldn’t go messing around with my hair, it’s DEFINITELY ME. I am absolutely the WORST when it comes to experimentation, but for some reason I just can’t seem to resist it!

Case in point: a few weekends ago, I woke up with a craving to straighten my hair. I mean, it’s been YEARS since I’ve done this myself (and last time I almost broke my neck in the process), so I guess I was due for a bit of adventure.

I rummaged around my natural hair goodies and remembered that Motions had sent me a sample of their new Straight to Finish line! I popped open the box and not only was the whole product set in there, but ALSO a handy-dandy little flat-iron! How serendipitous indeed!

So I washed and conditioned my hair with their products. There’s actually only a leave-in (no conditioner), which made me nervous, but whatever—I was on a M.I.S.S.I.O.N.!

First things first, I sat beneath my hooded dryer and let my hair dry 85% of the way through. Then I dug out my comb attachment for the blow dryer and worked it through my curls.

At this point you might be asking yourself a very, very, important question:

Cass, do you even have enough hair to blow dry it straight!???

The answer is no, not really. But I worked it out.

Well, kinda.

The result was one of the more ridiculous looks I’ve ever, EVER seen on my head.

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So, yea. That happened.

Then I proceeded to smooth on the Motions Straight Finish Sealer, aka heat protectant, a CRUCIAL step. Ever since I had to cut of 10 inches of heat damage once upon a time, we do not mess around without heat protectant!

Then there was the flat-iron. Almost immediately I was ready to be done. It’s that SMELL, ya know??? My hair wasn’t burning or anything, it just smelled…. straightened. It is a scent (stank odor?) I do not miss.

After about 30 minutes, I was through my entire head and the result was………..less than appealing.

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I tried to make it work by adding my side part back and using some styler to hold down the sides, only to realize that the only styler I have is actually for CURLS so almost immediately my hair started to revert back to its natural texture.

Within 30 minutes, I was in the shower washing my hair and getting it’s texture back!

So what did we learn??

  • First of all, the Motions Straight Finish products did a great job. My hair reverted immediately and there was no damage. Thumbs up on the product living up to its promises!
  • Ya girl needed a haircut. BADLY! When I got my last cut, I didn’t want to go TOO short, so the blonde ends were left on. It added a little pepper of color, but honestly it always kind of annoyed me. However, seeing the colored pieces in their straightened form realized just how dry and damaged they were. It was absolutely time for them to go!
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  • I love my natural hair. Simple as that!
  • Welcome back, curls!!  You were missed!

    Welcome back, curls!! You were missed!

Crafting for a CAUSE • Sunday September 15th

I’m very excited to announce my next event coming up on Sunday September 15th— a fundraiser for local Bay Area fashion designer Erica Varize who is launching a new venture called Sew What Project Uganda. Sew What Project Uganda is an international extension of the summer camp Erica has run locally for the past seven years in which she creates a sort of “fashion design” camp for young girls and teaches them not only how to sew, but some of the entrepreneurial aspects of the industry. This summer, Erica has built an exchange with a group of girls in Uganda and her local Sew What campers and in October she plans to travel to Uganda and host Sew What abroad.

When Erica asked me to host the fundraiser for her, I immediately said YES YES YES! First of all, Erica is an extremely accomplished designer and I am always wow’ed by her styles (and have worn many myself!)But more than that, a fun lesser-known fact about me is that I LOVE to sew and think it is one of the most empowering skills a person can have. To be able to provide this educational opportunity for girls to lift themselves up is a goal that rings near and dear to my heart.

Thus

a Bay-Ganda fundraiser for Sew What Project Uganda

was born.

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Here’s the scoop:

THERE SHALL BE CRAFTING: I absolutely adore all of EVarize’s fashion designs in which she incorporates beautiful African patterns. So I thought we could all make something together with some of these patterns and colors. Our craft du jour, will be a braided fabric necklace that you will be able to make and take home for yourself (or as a gift!)

THERE SHALL BE MUSIC: What’s a party without some jamz!? DJ Bella Soul will be spinning tunes and setting the mood. Lovez it!

THERE SHALL BE NATURAL HAIR GOODNESS: Our friends from Komaza Care will be joining us for the event and providing some natural hair samples for all attendees. I love them! So excited they’ll be in the house!

THERE SHALL BE SHOPPING: That’s right! We’ll have a little shopping area and if you’re interested in being a vendor, please let me know! cassidy [at] naturalselectionblog [dot] com.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. You can purchase them below OR visit the ticket page here. All proceeds will go to support Sew What Project Uganda. This is truly a community effort, so if you would like to be involved, please let me know and we can certainly figure something out! Can’t wait to see you soon!



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Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.



On #interracialFRIENDSHIPS part 1: Stephen

First up in my friend-fueled series on Interracial Friendships is Stephen, our food and wine enthusiast with a passion for writing. Please give him a warm welcome! Oh also, I want to encourage lots of comments and participation in this series because that’s what we’re here for—discussion and dialogue!

“A Reply About White People

By Stephen

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I love white people. Really, I owe a great deal to them. They’ve taught me all sorts of things, like, being a professional alcoholic is okay, it’s just pronounced “sommelier”. I ran with that one. I also owe to them a huge amount of gratitude for making my earliest competitive endeavors in life successful ones, because, honestly, even in our elementary school Olympics, I was looking like the reincarnation of Jesse Owens compared to my classmates. I could go on with ironic, reverse racist banter, but Cassidy, who asked me to write this, only gives me 500 words (good luck), so I must stay on task.

The task was to respond to this article about the difficulty of maintaining interracial friendships into adulthood. The author, Brittney Cooper, explains how her relationship with her once best friend, gradually dissolved as the girls grew older. She cites a potential reason for the shift (perhaps the origins of this thesis), is that her white friend was told by her father that people should “date their own”. As the girls shifted from pre-to actually pubescent, an inability to relate to the same guy was a big deal. Then there was this notion of white friendships being “grandfathered in” before the end of highschool, and I actually found myself-at least partially-agreeing with that.

The “Grandfather” Clause

I think there are many of us who confuse the advancement of blacks in our country (obligatory Obama reference) with a dilution of racism. I’m not ready to go there. Now, it’s just a bit more advanced, and comes out in subtler ways, most often in the realm of class. While whites are increasingly comfortable with the idea of equity for blacks (and I do believe this to be generally true- particularly Millennials), most of us still do not develop super tight interracial relationships into our adulthood. This separatism has been fueled by each respective race as evidenced by Brittney’s tales of ridicule by her black classmates. I grew up in a similarly vexing environment, in which the identity surfing created a great deal of discomfort for a very middle-class black with a very upper class high school experience. Fortunately, sports to a large degree was enough to gain the acceptance of a few influential 7th grade boys and I never looked back.

Stephen with one of our future series featurees, Bubba "Jeff".

There’s nowhere near enough time to go into full detail of theories and implications of this article, but I will suggest that for me, the most resounding is that blacks who’ve befriended whites throughout high school are far more likely to retain/develop white friendships into their adulthood. Develop is an operative word, here, where I’ll extend the parameters of her BFF’s “grandfather clause.” I’ve observed this on many occasions. I think that goes both ways.

Looking Forward

There’s something to that formative time in high school. I’ve been the lone black face at weddings and will almost certainly be so again. I look at this as not quite an indictment on the bride and groom, rather a reminder of (literally) how very far apart we still are racially. Or, if you’re like me, you might’ve ended up in a place (Oregon) where there just aren’t that many “opportunities” for interracial friends. However, the longer one stays in those environments, the less likely they are to (re)discover interracial friendships. That’s a big reason I left. If we really want to properly observe interracial friendships, we should look to those who are half the age of Brittney or I, because that’s where we’ll get a better read on where whether this is an endangered or enduring phenomenon.

The Politics of Being Friends with White People….and Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Indians and Generally Most Other Humans.

Yesterday Salon published an article titled “The Politics of Being Friends with White People“, which discussed one woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood and the evolution of her friendships through the lens of race.  The author, Brittany Cooper, claims that as a kid she was surrounded by lots of white peers and as such as many white friends, but as she grew older and found herself in more situations with persons of color, that her friendships shifted and she found herself with closer friends who were black.

The article caught my attention because, well, I have white friends.  In fact, I have a lot, of white friends. And many of my best friends are white.  Awhile back I explored my position at the intersection of race as a “black girl living in a white world” with the Harlem Shake Divide example.  This “Friends with White People” article brought up similar themes and caused me to reflect on the fact that I am a black girl who not only grew up with a lot of white friends, but still has a lot of white friends.

I decided that I wanted to craft a response to this article, but in doing so realized that a response wasn’t so —pun intended— black and white.  As I took an initial stock of my group of close friends, I realized that it was a pretty darn diverse group of kids and I realized that I didn’t want to respond to this article about the racial demographics of my friend group alone, I wanted to get my friend’s opinions on it as well!  I mean, hey—if I’m going to put our interracial friendships on blast, then they should have a say in it!

Within hours and after a series of text messages, emails and phone calls, six of my nearest and dearest had agreed to make individual cameos here on NaturalSelectionBlog to explore the ideas of race and friendships.

While the author Brittany Cooper suggests that she spends more time with one group over another, I selected this particular group of friends to feature, because they frequently find themselves at the intersection of two ethnically disparate worlds. Just like me. Which is why we’re probably friends in the first place. See? It all makes sense.

So over the coming weeks, I’m going to be giving the keyboard, and in some instances the microphone,  over to a few of my close friends.  Here, please let me introduce you to them!  In no particular order:

 

Dani

 
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My college roommate, international adventure buddy, and general all around badass. She was born in Argentina, raised in Atlanta and currently lives in Tennessee where she is studying to get her PhD in Educational Policy. After 5 years of working in public schools in DC and Brooklyn, she decided that the system sucks and she needs to change it. She is also a frequent commenter here on the ol’ blog.
 
 

Stephen

 
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Born and raised in the A, Stephen now lives in San Francisco where he manages one of the most popular restaurants in the city. As die-hard advocate of the importance of eating well with an emphasis on quality ingredients, Stephen shares a passion for writing and has started a media empire over here. Okay, real talk: our friendship was cemented because of a poll about whether or not people of color like grapefruit (DO YOU?). Two years later, our friendship is still thriving, only proving to me how impactful these discussions can be.
 
 

Bianca

 
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A college friend and sorority sister who I became extremely close to while studying abroad in France. Bianca was born and raised in Louisville, KY and is the daughter of two India-born parents (whose hospitality and cooking I will never, ever forget). Dr. Bianca is currently in residency at a hospital in Washington DC, which means that she sleeps little, works a lot and is very kind for letting me rope her into this dialogue. Because of her awesome curls, Bianca has also been featured on this blog before so you might recognize her.
 
 

Jeff a.k.a. Bubba

 
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A native San Franciscan, Jeff grew up in a diverse circle of friends that still exists today. As a Criminal Defense Lawyer, he is an outspoken advocate on racial justice issues. For those of you who have been to my events, you have likely seen him there because he has a stellar track record and knows more about natural hair that you might ever expect. Jeff is constantly disappointed in my lack of engagement with hip hop and soul, his two musical passions, and we speak frequently about how we can bridge the gap of our mutual Racial Music Expectations. So far we have honed in on vintage Brazilian and his participation in this project.
 
 

Paloma

 
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Pal and I have been roommates for going on six (!) years now in San Francisco. Growing up half-Brazilian in the suburbs of Boston, Paloma was exposed to both an international network of family and a school demographic seriously lacking in ethnic and economic diversity. As a queer woman, Pal often talks about living within these two worlds and coming to a place of balance between them herself. As a school administrator, Pal is incredibly insightful about diversity within relationships and communities at all levels.
 
 

Phallon

 
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Phallon and I have been friends literally since the day I was born (she beat me by three days). We grew up together in a small suburb of Minneapolis, MN that the census lists as 94% white. Phallon brings not only this understanding about the ethnic make up in which we grew up, but also the need and ability to establish community of color. After an inspiring 90-minute conversation about this very topic just last night, I’m so excited to welcome her voice to this conversation!
 
 
So there you have it, friends: my friends. As I mentioned, you’ll be seeing a feature from each one of them in the coming weeks as we discuss and explore this conversation of interracial friendships and the roles they’ve played in our lives. Here we go!

Tomorrow is #WEARYOURHAIRCURLY Day!

NaturallyCurly has partnered up with Garnier to host the first ever National #WEARYOURHAIRCURLY day in an effort to encourage people of all textures to wear their natural curls, coils and waves.

I hit the streets of San Francisco spreading the word and getting people amped about wearing their natural curls.  I will admit that after a few years, I’m pretty darn good at spotting naturally curly hair in it’s straightened state, so I locked and loaded on a few people and made them get on board.  I also hollered at a bunch of Bay Area curly guys and gals:

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So after getting the curlies of San Francisco all riled up for tomorrow’s #WYHC, I was left with the insatiable urge to, um, wear my hair….straight?  I know.  It was super weird.  I hate having my hair straightened, but something just clicked in me and I. NEEDED. TO. HAVE. STRAIGHT. HAIR.

So I straightened it.

It was partially awful and mostly tragic with a sprinkling of devastation.

Within the hour my hair was back to curly.

So.

BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING.

Make sure to wear your hair curly tomorrow—no presses, no wigs, just full bountiful curls!  Oh and then you should take a photo of yourself, post it to Instagram and tag it #wearyourhaircurly— there’s some great prizes AND the more people that participate, the more $crill will be donated to the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.

Can’t wait to see those CURLS manana ladies (and gents!)

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