TAKE ACTION: sign this petition against Afro discrimination!

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a good dose of unsavory marketing tactics used against black hair, but my friends it is BACK and with a vengeance!

Anya of IHeartMyHair sent me a link to a video from a hair show in Brazil in which a company, Cadiveu, selling Brazilian Keratin Treatments had attendees put on an Afro wig and hold a sign that says “Eu Preciso Cadiveu”.

Translation: “I need Cadiveu”  Translation: “I’ve got this big head of kinky hair on my head and I need me some Cadiveu to help make it glossy and beautiful!”

Say whaaaaa?

Racist.Brazilian.Product

Luckily, people weren’t willing to really stay quiet on the matter and started slamming the Cadiveu Facebook page regarding the issue.  Eventually the page was taken down, which is good.

HOWEVER.

Cadiveu has yet to issue a formal apology, so dearest Anya has set up a petition and is hoping to get 5000 signatures to help make our voices heard and get an apology.  Interested in helping out?  Of course you are.  Sign the petition here!

***NOTE! The page is in Portuguese, but don’t let that scare you away- we gotta help our sisters out around the world! Scroll down the petition for the english translation and where you can sign in using FB or Twitter. If you want to type in your name, etc. Here’s the translation for that (I’m only translating the “required” fields)”:

NOME- name
SOBRENOME – last name
EMAIL – email address
ESCOLHA UMA SENHA – pick a password
ASSINAM – SIGN

And check out the below video explaining the sitch.

 

What are your thoughts? Was Cadiveu in the wrong or just doing an engaging marketing tactic?

Lessons from Africa

[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] I [/dropcap] came home from Africa and capital C, Crashed. Well that’s not entirely true, I got the flu and wrote my stories about the trip for Black Is Global and then the holidays came around, so I never really got to share my experiences with you on the ol blog! Which may be all for the best because by now, my memories have had 4 weeks to marinate and you’re getting the stuff that really stuck with me. Here are my lessons and thoughts I gleaned from my trip with the Black Is Global team to Senegal!

1. We need a new narrative.

Years of reading National Geographic, heck even Google News, had given me the life in Africa was filled with immense suffering, poverty, violence, unrest and the idea that AIDS is so rampant that you can catch it by simply walking down the street.

Well, my trip to Dakar couldn’t have been further from this experience. Of course this heartbreaking side of humanity DOES exist, but there is also a whole other culture that is less talked about. There are posh lounges, sunny resorts, shopping malls, French cafes, comfortable homes and stretches of sandy beaches. Beyond material comforts, there is a well-educated populace, individuals concerned with environmental and social causes, and a network of globally invested citizens. In other words, life in Dakar is remarkably similar to our lives heres.

As much as it’s important to be aware of the world’s struggles, it’s equally important to celebrate and be aware of it’s successes and triumphs.

With the students of the Senegalese – American Bilingual School

2. THINGS FIT!

So you know how you’ll walk into a store here and try on a pair of jeans in “your size”, but they’re too tight in the rear, too narrow in the thigh and somehow way too large in the waist? Even after trying on dozens of pairs you walk out empty handed and frustrated. Le sigh.

Well NO SUCH THING WAS HAPPENING IN DAKAR MY DEARIES!

I walked into one shop in the local mall, pulled an [awesome] one-piece pantsuit off the rack, tried it on and it FIT PERFECTLY. My fellow traveler Miss Felicia Leatherwood did the same with a couple dresses and other pieces. Never would this happen in the states, we thought and realized that these clothes were made and designed by people with bodies more similar to our own! Pretty cool.

Even cooler was that so my piece happened to be a little big in the chest area and the on-site tailor took it in within a matter of minutes for free . Very very cool.

And while we’re here, I might as well mention the abundance of beautifully patterned fabrics Dakar is known for. Sold in stores and markets, you can take a fabric of your choosing and have the outfit of your dreams created. It took me awhile to figure out that this was REALLY how a majority of the amazing outfits were created that I saw and I missed my boat. But you heard it hear first: custom tailored African garb—- I will be back for you.

 

3. H-U-S-T-L-E

There’s hustle and then there is HUSTLE and as far as I’m concerned, Dakar wrote the book on it. The tenacity of the sales people I encountered was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life before. “NO” is not taken quickly or easily as an answer. People are selling anything and everything–EVERYWHERE and at all times. It was truly impressive.

4. Natural has a long way to go

Weaves and relaxers are beyond dominant in Dakar. I knew this would be the case based on what I had heard, but I was truly surprised to see how few naturalistas we encountered. Felicia attributed this not just to lack of access to products, but also a lack of education about what to do with one’s hair once natural. As a result, out of the handful of natural styles we saw, a majority were loose naturals or simply braided. There were no two-strand twists, coil outs, or flat twist updo’s we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. That said, there were a few naturals to be found and thankfully Felicia was there to give advice to those who were looking!

 

5. We are all connected

It all comes back to Africa. Everything.

From the theories of human evolution that place the birthplace of mankind in Subsaharan Africa to slavery the subsequent diaspora of black people around the world, Africa is the origin of human life and all civilization. As such, all humans on this planet are related to one and other, regardless of color, religion or ethnic heritage. I touched on this earlier, but we are truly more alike than we are different.

Dakar is a former French colony with a 94% Muslim population, even with these differences I still saw similarities in culture and lifestyle, values and traditions.

I interviewed a very prominent Senegalese doctor who had some very important words of advice for the children of the African diaspora about our need to come together and guide the rest of the world back to a place of balance and shared understanding. Idealistic indeed, but still something for which to hope and aspire!

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All in all, my experience in Dakar was fabulous. The people and their unparalleled Teranga (hospitality in English) made me feel oh-so welcome. It was not only a beautiful country, rich with cultural history and heritage, but also a beautiful people. I’ve written several articles exploring Dakar in greater depth over on Black Is Global, so please go check out the site and like the Facebook page to support the movement!

Now without further ado, I’d like to share some of my photographs from my trip with you! Enjoy!

No need to freak out… it’s just my FIRST TRIP TO AFRICA

Yes, that’s right peeps— I’m making my maiden voyage to the continent!!! When, you ask???

Um…today.

When this opportunity first came across my plate, everyone was extremely surprised by my reaction: complete and utter silence. “Cass, why aren’t you excited!?,” they asked. “Oh, I’m excited alright. In fact I’m a little too excited I can’t even react.” So I stuffed this amazing trip to the back of my mind, an easy thing to do when you can pile a 5 week jaunt to Chicago, NOLA, Virgin Islands, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Thanksgiving in San Francisco on top of it.

But then last Saturday it hit me when I saw this shirt:

Of all places, I was with friends at a Dead Prez concert. Upon seeing this shirt, I realized the magnitude of this experience of traveling to Africa for the first time. The colonization and subsequent enslavement of millions of African people is a gruesome and painful history we share, but most of us live pretty far removed from it. However, it came smacking me in the face that I would be traveling to one of the main ports of where people were captured, shipped, and sold into generations of forced and brutal labor. It was a powerful and necessary realization to have.

So I did what any girl would do: I ran out of the concert and onto the street and called my mom sobbing at 2am. After she calmed me down, then I called Felicia, also joining me on this trip, who also calmed me down. She explained “Cassidy, my gift is to teach people about natural hair. Yours is to write about your experiences and share them with the world.” With that I dried my tears and put my “Holy-F-This-Is-Going-To-Be-An-Amazing-Trip-And-I-Can’t-Wait-To-Write-About-It Hat back on! And then I went back into the concert and enjoyed the rest of the show. Dead Prez and crying. Go figure.

So let me tell you a bit about this trip. I’m going with an amazing new multi-media project called Black Is Global (B.I.G). The purpose of Black Is Global is to create an online platform to share stories and experience of black people all around the world. Black culture in the United States is very different than the black culture in Brasil, which is different than the black culture in Ghana, which is different than the black culture in France. So as you see, blackness IS global and through the diaspora we have created a multitude of international black identities. Very cool, right? Make sure to check out the site because this is going to be BIG (pun intended).

The inaugural trip will be to Dakar, Senegal, located on a beach lined peninsula on the Western Coast of Africa. I can’t give away the details yet, but we’re going to be seeing, visiting, tasting and exploring some very exciting and noteworthy places and experience.

Besides myself, the B.I.G. team is made up of Felicia Leatherwood, who will be speaking at the Natural Hair Expo we’re headed to; Elton Anderson, a phenomenal photographer whose work I’ve been following for years (featured once here on NSB!); and the two Black Is Global owners, Chimole Williams and Amber Patton.

We’ll be documenting our entire journey and sharing on BlackisGlobal.com, but for quick updates be sure to follow the Black Is Global Facebook Page and Twitter (@blackisglobal).

I’m amazingly excited for this trip and I know it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime! I’m really floored by the fact that I’m not just going to a new country, but one that is perhaps the homeland and birthplace of my ancestors. It’s truly a powerful thought. Stay tuned for more FROM THE CONTINENT!!

Xoxoxo

Adventures in Finding Natural Hair Products in Paris

France is considered by many to be the center of the fashion and beauty world, so it was a particularly difficult pill to swallow on my trip to Monoprix in Toulouse to see the space so far behind in curl care.  Another two bloggers, Fly and Tiga, took me under their wings for a field trip around Paris to show me exactly where it was that they did their hair shopping.  It was an awesome adventure, filled with some shocking surprises, that took us to three very different stops:

  • a natural ingredient boutique
  • “Black Paris” and the beauty supply stores and salons
  • India!

Fly and Tiga

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Parisian Style Hunting with French Blogger Fatou

One of the best parts about the London and Paris events was that it allowed me to connect and make friends with the local naturalistas. The girls were all SUPER nice and a few of them even offered to take me around the city and show me some of their local favorite spots for shopping, hair, and beauty. Fatou of BlackBeautyBag.com offered up a day of vintage shopping and lunch to which is said an immediate OUI! MERCI!

I met her at the Etienne Marcel metro stop in the 1eme arrondissment – a very chic quartier right in the middle of Paris filled with cafes and boutiques. After greeting each other in the with the typical French two-cheek bisous, we wound our way through the streets, Fatou in her stilettos impressive not just for their height, but also because we were walking on century old cobblestones-a skill Parisian women have artfully mastered. We reached our destination, a fabulous store filled with funky chic vintage tops, skirts, dresses, and pants. I scoured the racks taking it all in, while Fatou lost herself in the skirt section pulling out some really awesome multi-colored print options for herself. We both ended up settling on a couple skirts, mine a pleated version reminiscent of the 1980′s track suits with gold chains all over them (can’t believe that print is coming back!)

Afterwards, we checked out another vintage store, this one a little pricier. I set out to find something in the sherbert orange hue that’s popping up all over the place this spring, which Pantone has labeled Tangerine Tango and also happens to be the color of the year. I’m all for it–looks great on chocolate skin!

Finally we found ourselves a tad hungry and settled on a cafe situated on an idyllic street filled with pedestrians and bikers and perched ourselves in a prime outdoor location for sunning and people watching. Over a lunch of pizza and rose wine, we chatted about life as a beauty blogger in Paris. Fatou’s blog, BlackBeautyBag, is one of the first French blogs dedicated to black beauty and has a ton of great content geared to fashion, make up, and of course hair. Her gorgeous thick fro is definitely noteworthy and she rocks it with such elegant grace in a wide variety of styles from twist outs to a blow-out fro-out.

After filling our bellies, we headed back towards the metro to a make up shop called Black Up that I had seen upon arriving. Black Up, is as you can probably guessed, make up geared towards black skin (get it!? get it?!). The chic and shiny interior is filled with brown skinned models (with a noticeable lack of natural hair) and a full range of products from foundations to lip glosses to parfum (which I LOVED). I was immediately whisked into the make up chair and received a full Black Up make over! I loved how they used a turquoise eye pencil to subtly match my I’Me earrings and while I walked out of there wearing more make up than I normally would, it looked effing HAUTE! The foundation was light and didn’t break me out, while the colors were bold enough to stand out on my skin. I’m a fan and hope to see more of this line in the states (but again, with more #naturalhair representation).

 

 

If you’re in Paris, stay tuned to Fatou’s blog for info on the event she’s having at Black Up this week.
All in all, a great day of beauty blogging with one of Paris’ best!

2nd Helpings: The Story of Slave Anastacia

Following this week’s theme of reflection and thanks, I am going to continue on with a tradition I started up last year: serving up some of my favorite blog posts from the past year! On the eve of Lola’s birthday, I thought I’d kick things off with my story of Escrava Anastacia (Slave Anastacia), the Brazilian woman who inspired my natural journey to begin with.

Celebrating Black History Month: Slave Anastasia (Escrava Anastacia) – 2/22/11

As you may remember, I promised to do a Black History Month post last week. We all know the big players that I could talk about in the hair game — Madame CJ Walker, Angela Davis, etc.– but I wanted to do someone that had more of an impact on my decision to go natural.  The answer came to me rather quickly and requires us to take a little trip together down to BRAZIL.

Brazil is home to beautiful beaches, men in zungas, gorgeous super models, Carnival, the 2014 World Cup, the Amazon,  and the largest Black population outside of Africa.  Yes, even larger than the US!  More people were taken as slaves to Brazil than anywhere else and as a result there continues to be a strong presence of African culture in contemporary Brazil.  Within Brazil, the state of Bahia is known as the  Afro-Brazilian capital of the country where most of this culture, tradition and population continues to thrive today.

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“Black women are unquestionably beautiful” says Vogue Italy

Not to be pretentious, but DUH ;)

In this month’s Vogue Italy, the beauty of the wide spectrum of black skin is celebrated in a  10-page spread in the glossy high-fashion magazine.  The accompanying article reads:

With bright eyes peering out under deliciously curled lashes, cheekbones and jawbones contoured as if chiseled from sharp stone, full noses, and sumptuously lush lips,black women are unquestionably beautiful.

A tribute is due to the woman whose skin tone ranges from alabaster to mahogany to smooth onyx, who can flawlessly carry any makeup look—from gold dusted lids to fuchsia blush to ripe purple and pink glosses. These pages pay homage to the versatile woman whose hair can oscillate from a tightly coiled and coifed Afro, to sleek layers, to a slicked back pixie cut in a matter of minutes. To the divine woman whose enviably full lips, strong, white teeth, and delightful smile have been known to electrify the hearts of many. To the siren whose smooth, velvety skin blocks the sun yet remains supple and unblemished with the passage of time.

Variable and diverse, black beauty escapes simple classification. But no matter the incarnation—whether the color of molasses, café au lait, bronze, tan, or tinged like desert sand—black beauties radiate with poise and multidimensional splendor.

 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the photographs from the spread which captures not only the spectrum of skintone, but also hair TEXTURE.  I’m loving how the article captures the spirit, the volume, and the essence of our CURLS!

 

 

 

For the full spread visit the original article here.

AFROBEAT

I would be remiss to do all this talk of afros and not do a post about one of my most favorite genres of music: AFROBEAT! Fela Anikulapo Kuti is the godfather of this funky, horn-laced, groovin, frenetic and too-danceable-for its own good style of music. Afrobeat originated in Nigeria in the late 60′s/early 70′s and is a hybrid of highlife, jazz, funk with heavy influences from the godfather of soul: Mr. James Brown.

Fela on Stage

Fela’s music became wildly popular and he used his music as a tool to speak out against military and political corruption in Nigeria.  His political influence on the public even allowed him to run for president twice!

Fela continued to release records until the 1990′s and his Afrobeat legacy continues to live on today.   One of his sons, Femi Kuti, and Tony Allen (Fela’s former drummer) still produce and releases afrobeat records.  Recently, a Broadway production called FELA! (produced by Will, Jada, and Jay-Z) was a huge success (and I am still extremely sad about missing it!)

In addition there are scores of other bands and dj’s who are keeping the afrobeat alive.  If you are in the Bay Area, my friends DJ Pleasuremaker and Senor Oz host a party every Thursday night at the Elbo Room (in SF) called Afrolicious that features amazing afrobeat/samba/salsa/tropicalia fusion.  Get there! You. Will.  Dance.

I put together this mix of a few songs as a tribute to Fela, his music and the artists he has inspired along the way.

Just like a food and wine pairing (here comes the hair tie-in!  finally!), give this a listen while styling your hair for the weekend.  I promise that the infectious tunes will keep your feet and hands moving while you’re getting ready.  Try Bantu Knots!  Like Afrobeat, the Bantu people are also from Nigeria.  Besides, they’ll work wonders at keeping your hair tight and off of your face while you work out out on the afrobeat dance floor!

Enjoy the music and happy weekend y’all!!

Bahamian Naturalpreneurship: LaShona of AllU242

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent my first several days practically looking under rocks for naturals because they were no where to be found.  So rare were they that (I kid you not) at least five people a day came up to me and asked if my hair was a wig.  But luckily, on my last day, I met with LaShona a local naturalpreneur who assured me that like here, there were many Bahamian naturals around.  Most of them either wear their hair under a wig or sew-in so you just don’t see their coilies as well as the fact that you tend to not see them in touristy areas.  This lack of confidence in rocking one’s natural hair part of the inspiration behind LaShona’s soon-to-be-launched, Allu242.com, a natural hair website dedicated to educating and supporting naturals in The Bahamas.

LaShona and Cassadie

Over a lunch of conch fritters at a restaurant called (what else) Conch Fritters, we discussed all things island natural and the upcoming launch of AllU.  Here’s a little Q&A with LaShona about the website.

C:  What are your goals for AllU?

L:   Focusing on fostering healthy hair care and its appearance for chemical free (natural) hair

To be an outlet for all naturalites and  also those wanting to make the change to natural

To promote awareness that “Natural’s aren’t boring”

To help people love their hair by embracing their natural kinks & curls by being ‘sassy but classy’.

Spreading the AllU love at a local business event

C: What inspired you to start AllU?

L: AllU came about because I got tired of being limited with the products I could use in my natural curl hair (3c/4a) locally and because I am often stopped and questioned about my own natural hair, the products I use in my hair, and about my natural healthy hair regimen. So I decided to create a website for the ‘Kinky-Curly-Wavy-Afro bella’s (like myself) giving all curlies and naturalites the option to choose the best products currently available from my research of the finest and safest products for all hair types along with well researched information with tips and tricks for potential and naturals. Hence our tagline “Emphasizing the Natural U”

The website is expected to launch next month in February so be sure to check it out, especially you ladies in The Bahamas who want to have easy access to favorite natural hair brands in the Caribbean (read: less shipping hassle)  such as Kinky Curly, Komaza Care, and Darcy’s Botanticals just to name a few.

Internatural: Bly (UK)

I first saw Bly Richards on stage at the San Francisco Hip Hop Dance Fest two years ago when he and his group Plague lit up the theater with their UK-bred style of hip hop moves.  

But its not his dance moves that we’re here to discuss today…oh no no no my friends, it’s obviously his hair.  When I first saw Bly perform, his head was all braided up into a slick set of cornrows, but this 1/2 Jamaican + 1/2 Scottish dancer has one of the most fabulous heads of curls I’ve ever seen.  I got the chance to catch up with him and ask him about his hair and came up these three facts about Bly’s hair:

  • Bly has thinks cornrows hurt as much as I do, that’s why he doesn’t wear them anymore.  ”I’ve got a delicate head,” he says.
  • He finds that his hair is a huge attention grabber.  ”People are always touching the curls…quite annoying,” he says.
  • He uses Sof’n'Free, a UK-based product line

Ok, enough of me jabbering…let me let these curls speak for themselves!!

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