History Moment: Before Martin, There Was Mary

Often times when the Martin Luther King Jr. day comes around we get so caught up in the actually day off from work, an extra day to party, or random quotes from his “I Have a Dream” speech that we neglect the true meaning of remembering our history.  How did MLK Jr. get to his point in life where he effected so many and who paved the way for him?  Yesterday I attended the Road Scholar Program at Oakland museum where there was a guest speaker who really unfolded history for me I never knew existed.

The guest speaker for the event “Before Martin, there was Mary” was Sushell Bibbs, Emmy award winning executive producer for WGBH-TV, actress and storyteller, who dug the roots of Mary Pleasant; the woman of Civil Rights in California.  We viewed her very own documentary where she creatively told the story of a black woman who’s work begun in the 1860’s to help shape civil rights in San Francisco and equality for African Americans.  As a freeds slave, She fought for the rights of blacks to be able to ride the famous street cars in San Francisco that you see today.  Being that I’ve heard the MLK story thousands of times, I found it interesting to know that a black woman way before him, put her foot down in my hometown for equality.

Sushell Bibbs described Mary Pleasant’s character and beliefs with two people; Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr.  Her compassion and willingness to care for her people and others in underground railroad is shown through Martin Luther King Jr and her drive to fight for social justice by an means necessary is reinacted through Malcom X.  Although I’m not the one to take sides for the different civil rights leaders, I feel that Mary Pleasant’s character and beliefs were shown tremendously through our latest leaders.

As leaders for today’s society, we have to be less passive about our own issues or more concious about what we are feeding our communities because although today is a federal holiday to remember Dr. King, it’s also a wake up call that his dream has yet to be reality.

Natural Hair: 3 Men & 3 Perspectives

Ladies this is what you all have been waiting for.  I know you are curious and so was I so I found three men who all love women with natural hair and picked their brains for your pleasure.  A Student, Photographer, and a Loctitian. . .It can’t get any better.  Here is what these black men think when it comes to women who wear their hair natural:

Name: Fred Shavies

Age: 30

*Professional Photographer*

Name: Charles McGee

Age: 20

*Full Time Student*

Name: “The Loc Dr.”

Age: 33



How important is hair to you in attractiveness of woman? Do you like certain hairstyles?

Fred: It’s not important. If you have straight hair I’m going to talk to you. The woman who I’m dating now she straightens her hair from time to time; she doesn’t have a perm though.  I don’t like to put myself in this box, but I don’t like to say I only date women with dreads or an Afro.   Never say never, but I prefer not to date a woman with a weave.  I’m attracted to women with real hair, real body parts, real eye colors, real human beings. The hairstyles I like are dreads and I love women who wear Afros, that’s what is most attractive to me.  I don’t want to say that turns me on, but it’s something that I enjoy. [laughs]

“The Loc Dr.”  : Hair to me in attractiveness of woman is very important. As long as a woman’s hair is presentable that’s fine with me. It’s something about a woman w/ a boy cut or short like Nia Long that’s very very attractive.

Charles: I think it is very important because as a male that’s one of the 1st things I look at. I wouldn’t say it would make or break you because if I think you are an attractive woman and your hair is so-so I would just think “ok she’s having a bad hair day ” BUT if some time goes past and the hair is still “whoa” I’ll start thinking “ok she must doesn’t care too much about her hair I wonder what else she doesn’t care about that should be important to her”. Ever since I was young I would go crazy over the girls with long hair in the two pony tails [laughs w/ embarrassed face] but since I’ve gotten older it upgraded to still the pony tails but also girl who rock the curly BIG hair. Honestly I can fall in love with any hairstyle if you keep it tight.

Have you noticed a “Natural Hair Movement” lately and why do you think women are deciding to go natural?

Fred: I feel that people in our generation are waking up and being more conscious. People are breaking society barriers and realizing that they don’t have to look like the Barbie doll they grew up playing with.  Black is beautiful and YOU are beautiful.  In our generation I’ve noticed black people more comfortable in their skin and are okay with living in their hair.  It takes me back to the Malcolm X era when during those times black men would literally burn their hair to look like a white dude.

“The Loc Dr.” :  I see it but I think it’s (Natural Hair) been there because I think people are trying to go in that direction but some are scared. I have noticed a “Natural Hair Movement” lately which is a great thing. A lot of people do get perms and texturizers, but people need to understand that it’s a process, sometimes takes years to get that look.  It’s just about being fearful and the movement has been gong for a while.

Charles: Yes I have I think it has to do with the rise of women’s independency today. I feel the natural look gives a sense of power and REALNESS. It’s going against what’s portrayed on the television as “good hair”. I think even more women should join the movement because it’s nothing better than natural beauty. EVERYBODY won’t like it but SOMEBODY will love it.

How do you view women with weaves? Can you tell the difference?

“The Loc Dr.” : Women w/ weaves are beautiful also but I have heard from close friends how expensive it is to keep their hair up. I can definitely tell the difference with a women that does have a weave oppose to a woman with Natural Hair.  I don’t hate weave and I don’t think either one is better than the other it all depends on the person. Too each is own.  We all rock hair a different way.

Charles: I actually have no BIG problem with weaves, although I do actually prefer natural if you can keep up with your weave and your happy with it I think you should do your thing. Except most lacefront weaves I don’t know what it is about them but they kinda creep me out. Most of the time I can tell if it’s a weave or not but some girls get it done well enough that no one can really tell, those are the ones that stay on top of things.

How would you define hair that is healthy?

“The Loc Dr.” : Healthy hair to me short or long does not have any damages, dryness and is taken care of correctly without having any perms etc. In my aspect, the key to healthy hair is moisturizing and cleansing. Keep it simple.

Charles: hmm [really thinking] I would say hair that grows pretty regular and has a good look to it, you know not to dry-looking keep it greased. Also washed on the regular and not to many chemicals cause I’m pretty sure they would make your hair look good for the moment but hurt it in the long run.

Do you think women care about a man’s opinion when it comes to their hair?

Fred: I don’t think that you should. I think you should love yourself regardless of what a man thinks.

“The Loc Dr.” : I do think women care about a man’s opinion when it comes to their hair to a certain degree but primarily it’s what matters to them first. It comes secondary, women are very independent.  When you get into the whole aspect of all that superficial shit like “oh I’m going to get my hair done cause he likes this,” that’s a personal issue.  A Good strong woman is stepping out to look good for herself.

Charles: I think so, even the ones that say “I don’t care what nobody thinks”, I mean I understand you might NOT care about other people opinions and might just be wanting to look good for yourself but honestly if your going out (even if in a relationship) you want to be reassured that you bad and turning heads.

Black women are very versatile with their hair. Do you like when your significant other changes her hair often?

Charles: Yes!! The same due can get boring or I’ll just get “use to it”. I like the random surprises or just switch it up for different events.

Fred:  I don’t mind. She changes her hair a lot.  I think that’s what turn me on; having the ability to change your hair is all being apart of a woman. The woman I’m dating is wearing cornrows right now.  She just took a shower and braided it up.  I like her versatility because some days she wears it straightened and other days she doesn’t.  It’s funny cause she had just taken her braids down once and her co-workers in the office gave her negative feedback when she decided to wear her hair in an afro, I love it.

What do you love about natural hair?

“The Loc Dr.” : What I love about natural hair is how healthy and versatile you can be with it from styles, color and length. It’s a beautiful thing but it’s not for everyone.

Fred: I love women in general and women with natural hair because this is the way they were intended to be and it’s beautiful.  A lot of human beings do all types of shit to be a certain way instead of just being who we are.

Charles: I love the fact that their staying true to themselves by rocking with what God gave them. I don’t care if it short as mines [I have a taper] if you rock it with the confidence that you the baddest thing walking that’s what people will look at you as. Also I love the fact that EVERY girl I know that rocks the natural look is so independent and motivated to do their thing. So keep doing it!! Hopefully I find one like y’all for myself. [laughs]

What about Pakistan?

dams burst, tears flood
washed away millions, villages submerged
the world sits deaf, the children’s cries go unheard
media got you glued to the tube, now what’ve you learned?
to the truth you are blind, an entire country victimized
makeshift camps in graveyards &treetops, take a second to visualize
monsoon rain caused flood devastation, Pakistan left paralyzed
water’s receeded, from dark to light, survivors for you i sympathize
return from Atlantis, out of house &home, little aid, health compromised
suffering exceeding 04’s tsunami,Kashmir &Haiti’s quakes combined!
sources i’ll extinguish, skills i’ll utilize, people i’ll gather, a plan to save you will be devised
great minds, big hearts, free souls, world citizens with out forces combined
we can save the world, to this occasion let’s rise!
-Pheben Meharena

The Pakistan Floods that happened in July caused one the most devastating natural disasters in the middle east.  You may not remember or even heard that over 2,000 people have reportedly died leaving over a million homes destroyed of their natural habitat.  It wasn’t until I got my latest issued of the Time magazine when I read a heartbreaking article about the current condition of certain regions of Pakistan. Pheben Meharena, a strong advocate, reached out to the website for your help.  Although this natural disaster has been put under the rug by the media it still should get the light and support that it deserves.  The Embassy of Pakistan, DC is working together with savethechildren.org to fun the Pakistan children during this emergency.  Celebrities continue to neglect and the recognition isn’t out there leaving only 50% of the requested emergency relief fund not received.   For more information on how you can reach out on the Pakistan Floods of 2010, click the link below.

Click Here to Help

If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise: Spike Lee Documentary

Photo Courtesy of HBO

Last night I watched the HBO Spike Lee documentary “If God is willing and da Creek Don’t Rise” which is the The LeveesSequel about the devastating natural disaster called Hurricane Katrina.  The news did somewhat of a good job at highlights the aftermath but Spike Lee took it into his own hands to get the voice out that New Orleans is still going through a struggle and the aftermath is nothing short of a progression.  Through interviews with local and former residents I was able to capture the anger and disappointment that has affected them since Katrina.

I find Spike Lee to be phenomenal at projecting a message through spoken word, psychological analysis, and different angles of the camera.  I was able to see footage of happiness, disperse, regret and even darkness from the New Orleans communities.  I’ve studied his films so I know that when he does a documentary he makes sure to leave you pondering your thoughts and rebirthing your revolutionary mind.

Two years after the hurricane hit, I was able to travel with my school in helping to rebuild and bring life back to New Orleans.  Never in my life did I find myself in such devastation when they were demolishing the projects and building housing that was not fit for the community.  Spike Lee covers many issues in this two-part sequel, which airs again tonight at 9pm (PST) on HBO.  There are many issues that have been brushed under the rug or are still ongoing and I feel that he does a great job at giving you visuals of the aftermath of this disaster.  We are vastly approaching the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and progress is being made but not enough.  I am currently working with Bay Localize on ways to uplift this issue and I’m sure that you can do your part too.  So check out the second part if you haven’t already and educate yourself with the cold facts and the effects on Hurricane Katrina.

Esperanza Talks Natural (From Parlour Magazine)

I have always wanted to know how Esperanza Spalding, gets her curls to be so big and perfect.  Earlier this week, she sits down with Parlour Magazine to talk about the products she uses and being natural.  Check out the full article Here

And also if your feeling real curious check out my previous article on the who-abouts of Esperanza Spalding Here