Monthly Archives: February 2012

“Whaa?” Oscars 2012 Highlights, Hair and Heresies [Quotes + Photos]

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This year’s 84th Annual Academy Awards was a strange night indeed. The night was filled with “OMG” moments. Even from the very beginning when Sacha Baron Cohen the actor from the film Borat spills what he said were the ashes of the late Kim Jong-il all over host Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. “Whaa?” That’s what the entire night was like for me. It all felt very strange.
Starting with,

  • Billy Crystal does blackface at the Oscars…Whaa?
  • Sean Diddy Combs won an Oscar for the documentary film Undefeated…Whaa?
  • Gabby’s hair…Ummm…
  • Octavia Spencer gets a standing ovation for winning Best Supporting Actress…Okaay… It was a great performance, but a standing O?
  • T.J. Martin becomes the first African-American director to win an Academy award for Undefeated and then drops the “F-bomb” during his speech…For real?
  • Meryl Streep wins for Best Actress…Again?

 
Strange happenings indeed.
Even stranger, is the spark of controversy over Billy Crystal’s “colorful” jokes while hosting the Oscars. After Octavia Spencer won her award Crystal says,
“After I saw The Help I just wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverly Hills is about a 45 minute drive.”

 
Ummm…
Next, during a comedic segment were the camera pans over to certain celebrities to show what they are thinking, Billy’s statement about what Viola was thinking left you thinking…”Whaa?”
When Viola noticed that the camera was on her, you could tell she braced herself for what was to come. Crystal joked that Viola was thinking,
“I want to thank my agent, I want to thank my writer and director for creating the role of a strong black woman that wasn’t played by Tyler Perry.” [Shakes head in disbelief]
It felt like a low blow at Tyler Perry who seems to get no respect from Hollywood for his film-making. Perry, by the way, took in $16 million Oscar weekend for his new movie “Good Deeds.” The interesting thing about Mr. Crystal’s jokes was that it’s hard to tell if they were mean-spirited or just ill-advised. With this being such a big night for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer and The Help why cast a shadow over that moment by pointing out various elephants in the room. That is, lack of options for roles for strong Black actors (Tyler comment). Or, the fact that “white guilt” is still very prevalent in our society with his joke about wanting to hug a black woman. Or, maybe that was his point to bring dialogue about these issues.
As for Billy Crystal doing blackface, in his defense, theGrio reports,
“…the Davis impression was a bit he made popular back during his days on Saturday Night Live. His exaggerated portrayal of the latter-day Davis (always performed in blackface) was a regular character, and Crystal even once played him alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson when he hosted SNL in 1984.”
Now, let’s talk about Viola Davis who was absolutely stunning in her green dress. I have to say that it seems a little strange that there is more hoopla over Viola Davis’ new natural hair (see post), than over the fact that an African-American won an accolade that no other Black director to date can claim. Not to say that Black hair is not a big issue, because it is. It’s exciting to witness the times changing right before our eyes. (See post on naturalhair predictions for 2012.) Although our girl didn’t win, I can only imagine what a relief it must be for Viola Davis that the Oscars are finally over. She can now get back to her family and focusing on her work. Esperanza Spalding gets an honorable mention for fiercest afro!


On a lighter note…did you guys see Chris Rocks hair?? That unshaped afro was fabulous! He gave us a little bit of “Pookie,” but clean, you know? Here’s a thought, when Chris Rock does racial jokes, it’s artfully funny—Billy Crystal, not so much. Chris Rock was a breath of fresh comedic air as he introduced the award for Best Animated Film.

 
He jokes,
“I hate when people go on TV and tell you how hard it is to do animation … No, UPS is hard work.  I’ve done some animation … It’s the easiest job in the world.  I go in a booth and I go, ‘what’s the line?’  And the guy goes, ‘it’s time to go to the store.’ And I go, ‘it’s time to go to the store!’  [Said in an urban dialect]  … And then they give me a million dollars.”  
He further jokes,

“I love animation because in the world of animation, you can be anything you wanna be. If you’re a fat woman, you can play a skinny princess. If you’re a short, wimpy guy, you can play a tall gladiator. If you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince. And if you’re a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra.”

With that joke alone there’s no question why “#ChrisRockforOscars2013” is trending on Twitter. Of course, (seriously) reports are coming in that Chris Rock has now pissed off the voice animation community with his comments.  Whaa?

Please share your thoughts with us below.

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Kelly Rowland has me thinking, “Is it practical for celebrities to wear natural hair? “

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This morning I was reading an Essence Magazine article, Hair Weave Tips and Tricks. The article caught my eye because I saw the beautiful Miss Kelly Rowland rocking her fierce new curly weave. As usual, the age-old  debate was sparked again, wearing weave vs. wearing your own hair in the comment section on Facebook. One commenter said, “How about just grow your own hair. We can do it Black women!” Of course we know that there are many reasons, some even medical why women wear weaves and wigs. And, of course we know that that is probably not the case for the majority of Black women who rock weave. Lastly, we know that not every woman who wears weave is bald. Some actually have really long, healthy hair “underneath.”

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So, the question is, “Is it practical for celebrities to wear natural hair? ” The answer, I think is, yes. One excuse for not wearing your own hair is that constantly frying and dying your hair to create new looks will cause damage. However, there are plenty of protective and low-manipulation styles for natural hair. Another excuse is that celebrities need to look good all the time and have an image to uphold. But what if we change the image?  In my last article about the unveiling of Viola Davis’ natural hair, I wrote that Hollywood would not accept our hair until we accept ourselves. On the red carpet at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood 2012 Luncheon, Viola states, “My husband told me to step into who I am.”  She stated that with her new natural hair, “I feel more powerful everyday.” What if we as African women flip the script? I’ve heard many women say that they are just not into the “natural look,” and that it’s cool sometimes, but not all the time. I can feel that. On the flipside, there are many women who feel that their God-given “natural look” is never acceptable.

As a performer, you put on a custume and go on stage. When the performance is over, you take the costume off. So, when does the weave, the wig, the facade ever come off? When do you ever “step into” who you really are? I was elated when I read an article featuring Raven Symone (I wrote about it here.) where she explained that when she is working, she wears weave, but in her down time, she rocks her natural. I know that it’s hard enough for Black actresses without them having to worry about how their hair will be perceived.  I would dare to say that Black actresses can reclaim their power by embracing their uniqueness.

I really like Kelly’s new hair and I think weaves in general can be very flattering when installed correctly. Weaves and wigs certainly come in handy when you need a styling break or just want to change your look. I too enjoy the occasional quick weave or wig (though, I haven’t worn one in nearly a year). It’s not about condemning those who wear weaves, it’s about helping women to fall in love with their own hair texture. It’s about giving them tools to succeed with natural hair.

Dealing with Itchy Scalp in Between Stylings

“AHHHH!!!” is usually the sentiment I feel as I vigorously scratch my head. There’s nothing like a good scratching, right? WRONG! Scratching can lead to many problems like breakage and hair thinning. You can scratch an itch, but vigorous scratching is a no, no. The leading causes of itchy scalp are dry scalp, buildup, perspiration, dandruff or other skin conditions. The best solution is to first determine the cause of itchiness to find your plan of attack.

I believe one of the biggest reasons as to why Black women suffer with itchy scalp is that we oftentimes do not wash our hair enough. When you do not cleanse the scalp, skin cells can build up on the scalp and cause itching and dandruff. I find that if I wash and condition my hair once a week, I do not have problems with itchy scalp. If I let the time in between washings go into the two-week and three-week zone, I’m in trouble. So, what can you do if you have spent lots of hours or money on an elaborate style that you are not yet ready to take down?
Essential Oils
If you have dry or itchy scalp its bests to use an essential oil that absorbs into the scalp. Some great oils to try for soothing the scalp are peppermint oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and tea tree oil. Olive oil can be used as a scalp massage. Jojoba oil is great if you suffer from dry scalp because it is structured similarly to the sebum oil our body naturally produces. It can also be used as a hot oil treatment. Be careful because although essential oils are absorbed easily by the scalp, too much oil can cause build up which worsens itchiness. Also, tea tree oil can cause allergic reaction or worsen eczema. Lastly, peppermint oil should always be diluted with water or mixed with a carrier oil like olive oil. There are plenty of products on the market like oil sprays, spray mists, shampoos, etc. that you can try.

Witch Hazel 
Witch hazel has been used for centuries and is known for its healing, soothing, and antiseptic properties. I used witch hazel almost exclusively to scrub my scalp when I was locking to cleanse my scalp. It is cheap and readily available at your local drug store. Dab the witch hazel onto a white cloth, cotton pads or Q-tips and gently scrub the scalp. Don’t be alarmed, you will see a lot of dirt coming up.
Herbal Cleansers
These work similar to witch hazel because it is antiseptic. It smells a lot better and leaves the scalp with a fresh, tingly feel. This product does contain alcohol, so I would not suggest using it if you have an irritated scalp or sores. You can also find herbal cleaners in the hair aisle.
Scratching
If you must scratch, do not use your fingernails. Instead, use the tail end of a rat tail comb to gently scratch. Fingernails are sharper than we think and can make scars in the scalp and damage the hair follicle. Also, fingernails carry bacteria and can spread infection.
What about greasing the scalp?
“Greasing” the scalp is an old school remedy. Get some TCB Hair Food or Blue Magic and life is good…NOT! Try essential oil massage instead. Hair grease, which contains petroleum and mineral oil, sit on the scalp and hair and do not allow moisture to come in. Plus these products cause build up which make itching worse.
Rule of thumb, if you know it’s been a week or more since your last wash, then it is probably time for a wash. Hopefully, some of these remedies will work for you.

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What Whitney, Michael and Don Remind Us

In light of the news of the passing of Whitney Houston, I started to reflect on the pressure she must have felt to be the best and always stay on top. I started to reflect on our unhealthy obsession with celebrity’s lives and the pressure we put on them.  When someone passes, the first thing we do is look for someone to blame. We ask, what could we have done differently? Did we do enough to save her? It was Bobby’s fault! Yea, that’s it. Or, it was the yes-men that surrounded her. They should have snatched the drink out of her hand. The real truth is that celebrities like, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Don Cornelius are ultimately responsible for their own lives.

Yet, even with knowing this truth, their death still hurts because we can all relate to the process of dealing with our issues. It’s that “process,” I feel many celebrities are robbed of through pressure from the media, pressure to put on a good show, the pressure that naturally comes with aging, etc. Fast success mixed with deep soul issues is a recipe for disaster. The praise, the accolades only mask the pain deep down inside. When the applause stops and everyone goes home you are left alone with just you and the demons that hunt you. The pressure of mega-success and super-stardom can sometimes be too much for a human being to handle.
Where I feel celebrities, and people in general, go wrong is that our craft cannot be who we are. Our talent is just an extension of who we are, not who we are. I’m not a celebrity, but as an artist I can relate to the anxiety that celebrities must feel to perform and be the best. If I have a bad design or the client doesn’t like my idea, I have learned (and still learning) not to internalize those negative feelings. I take no credit in myself, but it is the grace of God. Believe what you want, but there is no denying that you must be connected to something deeper than yourself in order to handle the pressures of life. Whitney, Michael and Don remind us not to carry around our pain and to take time for inner healing.
Another thing I reflect on is, “man, why did Whitney and Don have to die in such a tragic way during Black History Month?” Someone on Twitter said, “Black History is cancelled this month.” I don’t buy that. These legends, icons of our generation are gone, but never forgotten. We must not forget the lessons they taught us. Whitney and Michael taught us to perfect our craft. Sure, they had raw talent, but no one can ever say that they did not put in blood, sweat and tears to be the best. Don taught us to be innovators and savvy business people. He taught us to find a void (under representation of Black music and images in media and advertising) and fill that void. Don taught us to be the change you want to create. Lastly, they remind us that we are human beings, fragile and yet resilient, weak and yet powerful beyond belief. So be encouraged and know your greatness.

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