I laughed. I cried. I laughed even more. Kim Coles’ Must See Show!

A couple weekends a go, I had the absolute pleasure of checking out Kim Coles’ one woman show titled “Oh But Wait…There’s More!”. I’ve heard of this solo journey into theatre, and truthfully was not at all sure what to expect, but my Nana and I buckled ourselves into the front row of an intimate Oakland theater and settled in for the journey…

The next 90 minutes were filled with a truly authentic, but mostly hilarious glimpse at Miss Kim’s entire life. Aided by visuals projected onto a screen, we enjoyed these amazing anecdotes from throughout her childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

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Now before you start thinking this is some sort of stuffy allegory about life, please let me stop you:

This is Kim Coles: homegirl is FUNNY as all hell

No serious, there were points in during the show where I was laughing so hard that tears were spilling out of my eyes. I IRL LOL’ed like 8 times. Maybe more. Case in point:

  • Kim’s recreation of a “motivational speech” by her Puerto Rican Girl Scout troop leader slayed me.
  • Her recounting of her days doing plus size fashion shows at churches had me on the flo’.
  • The extreme measures she had to take when nature called while Bill Cosby was on the phone giving her life advice…I can’t. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
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    The truly beautiful part of the show, was this underlying theme of growth and discovering one’s truly authentic self. As a 28 year old woman just trying to figure it out , I was completely in awe of and inspired by the lessons learned by Kim herself and then shared with the audience during the show.

    When “Oh But Wait…There’s More! comes through to your tow, please make SURE you get yourself to the theater to see this awesome production by this fabulously talented lady. Next time it comes through The Bay Area, I’ll be there front row and ready once again!!!

    Connect with Kim and make sure you don’t miss a show!!

    Facebook
    Twitter
    Website

    Upcoming shows include:

    March 28 – Newport News, Va
    April 25 & 26 – NCCU in Durham, NC

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.

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!



Brown Paper Tickets Ticket Widget Loading…

Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.



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!

Beyonce’s Hair Cut and Why it Matters for Naturals

So as you may have heard—because when ish like this happens it damn near shuts down social media for like a week— Beyonce got a new haircut!

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I’m usually pretty hands-off when it comes to celebs and their various styles, but this one reeled me right on in and here’s why….

Awhile back, someone asked me what I thought the largest barrier was for women going natural. Without flinching, my response:

“They’re afraid of short hair.”

When I was first considering going natural back in 2008, one of the main reasons I was nervous was because I didn’t want to have short hair and look like a dude. Put simply, my hair was my physical representation of my own femininity.

Fast forward almost five years:  I have clearly gotten over this fear of the crop.  However, I still hear it constantly in various forms from women all over the world:

  • “I want to transition for 2-3 years because I want to have some length.”
  • “You cut 10″ off your hair?  I would have cried to lose all that work.
  • “Do you still feel like a woman?” – a male fried of mine
  • “Long hair don’t care!  I’m going for BSL!”

Whether women of color are natural or not, there exists this obsession with length.  But where does this come from? Is it sort of a “the grass is always greener” idea, that we want what we can’t have?  News flash: your hair will never tumble in silken golden billows from a tower like Rapunzel.  But hey, at least you don’t have to worry about getting kidnapped and forced to do manual labor with your own hair!  Or is it because we’ve been drilled with this idea that our hair, especially when it’s long, defines us as women and is what makes us feminine.

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Celebrities and the media have huge amounts of power when it comes to creating these idealistic images of women and how they should look, act, and dress.  So for the woman who has never, and I mean never, once appeared in the public spotlight without extensions or a weave is a pretty big deal.  The fact that Beyonce wearing her own hair, her own SHORT hair,  I believe has the ability to encourage and empower women of color to break away from this preoccupation with length.

Texture aside, I think this is a pretty powerful statement of embracing one’s own natural beauty!  Go ‘head, Bey!

 

 

 

A Man. His Film. Our Hair. A Movement.

Four years ago Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair’, exposed the realities of the global black hair industry and the dominance of weaves and relaxers. Sure we all had a giggle when Al Sharpton discussed his relaxer and were horrified when sodium chloride melted away an aluminum can. However, I always felt that the film lacked depth when it came to creating dialogue and understanding about how hair plays a role in shaping our identity. To put it simply, Chris Rock just didn’t go there .

Enter: Rhadamés Julián, a budding filmmaker from New York City on a quest to revolutionize how people of color create a sense of identity in a documentary called Follicle. Rhadamés will be traveling the world exploring the concepts of hair and imagery and seeking to define this natural hair movement. Rhadamés (that’s “ra-de-mis”, friends ;D) and I met back in July in NYC and were instantly connected by our shared intellectual passion and curiosity for talking about hair and identity.

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I think many of us have been content to read the blogs, attend the shows, use the products and buy the shirts featuring witty sayings and cute afro designs, but there is a lack of collective understanding and exploration as to why this is happening now, why are so many people making this journey and what does it mean? Where Chris Rock didn’t go Rhadamés Julián will and he is hellbent on smashing through the barriers and creating a unified sense of identity.

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For those of you who attended my Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora event in July where Rhadamés Julián was a featured panelist, you had the opportunity to experience a taste of the passion and zeal that is driving this film. For those of you who didn’t, well this kid will stop at nothing to get this film done and spread the message through the movement. But enough from me, let’s hear about it from him!

Follicle – Indiegogo from Rhadamés Julián on Vimeo.

What I think is really cool is that he’s making this film via grassroots support, free of any large movie production company controlling the funding and therefore the message.

Which means that none of this can happen without your support! All he is asking for is $1. And while it might sound like an insignificant amount, like it won’t make a difference, it will. Check out the link below and support Follicle!

Black Hair @ MoAD: Event Wrap Up + Gallery

There was a lot of anticipation for this event, especially on my end as I wanted to do something a very different from anything else I produced.

And I’m glad to say that Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora not only met, but truly exceeded my expectations!

The three stories of the glass-walled and glittering Museum of the African Diaspora were filled with hundreds of attendees from around the Bay Area, some even traveling from as far as New York for the event.

The concept of the event was to produce an artistic celebration of black hair through the lens of the diaspora. I came up with the idea to have “Living Sculptures” or models who each represented a specific location within the African Diaspora. I narrowed these locations down to six places which hold a certain significance for me in terms of my personal natural hair journey: Paris, The Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa (modern day Ethiopia), Brazil, the Caribbean and, of course, San Francisco.

In collaboration with Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood, our fashion sponsor, Bloomingdales, and make up artist, Tamra Marie Aristry, this vision was brought to life (literally):

The highlight of the evening was a panel that featured Jewels Barron, Creative Director of Shea Moisture; Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Stylist and Rhadamés Julian, Director of Follicle. We talked about the importance of hair when it comes to discussing black identity, the role of pop culture when it comes to discussing black identity, and the origins and future of the natural hair movement. It was truly an insightful discussion, one that was filled with themes and topics that are too often glazed over and it was good to facilitate a deeper topic on the subject.

The rest of the evening was spent checking out the MoAD exhibits including the Kinsey exhibit on black hair and adornment (if you’re in the Bay, this is a must-see!), enjoying the delicious eats from Radio Africa, laughing and smiling in the Lightworks Photobooth and grooving to the tunes of DJ DC from KMEL.

It was truly a magical event, one of my favorites I’ve ever done. Going into it I thought it might be my last, but I’ve already got the itch and idea for another in the works… :)

That said, this was truly a group effort and special thanks to the following:

•Shea Moisture for supporting the Bay Area natural hair community and the exploration of these topics.
•Bloomindales, for being such creative collaborators in making this happen (shout outs to Mariama, Cati and Jay!)
•Tamra Marie Artistry, for lending your talents and vision and a wide palette of colors!
•To the MoAD Vanguard, for giving me the platform to do this event. And in particular, Timmie Roach, my true partner in crime in making this event happen. I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!
•To my mom, for hopping on a plane at my insistence to come check out the event.
•And to our partners, Lightworks Photobooth, Moet Chandon, Radio Africa, DJ DC, Glass House Communications and the Parc55 Hotel— THANK YOU!

Now, without further ado, the full gallery from the event!

My 4-Year Blogiversary: THE RETURN

Well hello there! As you may have noticed, I took a bit of a hiatus there from the blog front, and for those who are frequent readers, I apologize for the departure.

The truth is that I had become uninspired by the natural hair world. Sure, there was the constant release of new products and fun parties and mixers to attend, but after four years that whole scene had become stale, empty and in terms of seeking out compelling content, it lacked the true depth I had once found within it.

So I stopped writing.

However, Natural Selection has brought me immense joy and growth, so I knew that it would be back, but that I needed to take time to reflect on where it is I wanted to take this next part of my journey.

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I woke up today and it dawned on me: I needed to take this blog back to it’s origins, to the ORIGINAL reasons I started writing in July of 2009. So I took a trip over to my ORIGINAL blog (there have been three over the years), to see if my very first blog post held any clues. Appropriately titled “New Beginnings: A [Moderately] Brief History of Why I’m Starting a Blog About My Hair“, this post holds it’s intrigue in the opening sentence and closing statement.

The opener:

“Since I can remember, my hair has been both my crowning glory and my greatest nemesis.”

A powerful statement, and one that rings true for many women of color, however after four years of being natural, I am proud to say that my hair is a nemesis no longer!

An excerpt from my closing paragraph:

“This blog is not going to just be about hairstyles and products. I’ve come to realize that the story of black hair is a story about cultural and personal identity, health and diet, schools and learning, world history and politics, art and expression, laughter and struggle, and family and friends.”

Four years later, I stand behind this statement still. The natural hair movement, with it’s parades of products and consumerism, has swallowed up the above the true story of black hair and I too have been swept up in it and have deviated from sharing and exploring it. However I truly believe that it’s important to keep these explorations at the forefront. It’s what positively unites us, rather than 3a/4c divides us.

I will admit that it’s funny that I spent so much time and effort worrying about where I should take the future of this blog, when all I had to do was return to the origin for the answer. A lesson for us all.

EVENT ALERT: The Global Culture of Hair with the Museum of the African Diaspora

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Words cannot express the excitement with which I am announcing this event!  I am honored to partner with San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora to present

 

Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora

On Friday July 12th we will be welcoming guests for a classy and cultured evening of hair and art. Drinks and documentaries. Style and swagger. And oh so much more….

Here’s the scoop….

Naturally when you go to a museum you are there to check out art, so I had to figure out how to present HAIR–something so tangible and three-dimensional–in a museum exhibit form.

Naturally, the only thing to do is to create I’m calling “LIVING SCULPTURES”, or live models who will be styled and presented as living, breathing works of art inspired by locales within the African Diaspora. Celebrity stylist Miss Felicia Leatherwood, known for creating some of the boldest and most inspired hairstyles around the world, will be creating the ‘dos while fashion sponsor Bloomingdales will be providing a gorgeous and global wardrobe for our models.

As the title sponsor of the event, Shea Moisture, leading natural hair care brand, will be on site and you’ll be able to scoop up some of their amazing products.

We will also have a hosting an insightful panel discussion, showing documentaries on hair throughout the evening, enjoying a DJ, drinks, photo booth and more! Oh and did I mention the complimentary champagne happy hour and goodie bags?

Set within the gorgeous three-story, downtown San Francisco space of MoAD, Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora promises to be one of the most inspiring celebration of the global culture of hair.

Of all of the events I have hosted, this is truly one you do not want to miss and I really hope you can make it!

Early bird tickets – $20 (through Saturday June 15)
General Admission Presale – $25
Door tickets – $30
***space is limited and it is strongly encouraged that you purchase your tickets in advance***

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

I’m also doing a CALL FOR MODELS! If you or any body you know has a gorgeous head of hair, I am looking for ALL textures of hair: 3a-4z, locs, relaxers— ALL OF IT! Please send me an email with your headshot (that shows your TRUE natural texture) and measurements (dress, waist, height). MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR IN-PERSON CASTING AND ALL DAY FRIDAY JULY 12. LOCAL APPLICANTS ONLY. Thank you!

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