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Your Confidence is… #SoulfulSundays

black people posingfor photo

Melanated Gem, everyday when I wake up I ask God to present me to the world the way I was designed. As an Africana woman, our confidence often offends, and that’s a good thing. I’ll tell you why, the design of white inferiority systems was to create loyalty to whiteness, and be able to assimilate into their worlds. That’s why the narratives of what is good and acceptable has all been in proximity to whiteness. That’s also why as of 2020, when I still entered and office, I had to make an example out of a coworker who told me “Black women have bad hair”, or the whole of 2019 when I had to constantly correct white men who commented on my hair, and forced my boss to have a staff wide meeting about it. I remember in 2019, a group of white men were going on, with their wives there, about my hair. They were saying “you remind me of Flo-Jo with that big hair”, and their wives got annoyed. I was even asked by someone “why are you so confident?” Either way, our appearance and confidence is always on trial because white people feel they’re the norm, and they find it offensive that we are able to embrace ourselves, go against their norms, and even challenge them when they say something that requires challenging. For example, I remember another Black queen telling me, “wow, you’re confident around white people”, that was in 2018, because my whole life I have corrected white people who say wrong things about African cultures. For example, a white guy tried to lecture me about Nigeria and the main languages, when I’m the Nigerian; he said “there’s only one language in Nigeria, Igbo and Yoruba are just dialects”, that was in 2019, I said NO, I am Igbo, it is a complete separate language, culture, and tradition from Yoruba people. I’m only giving the dates for all the people saying racism ended with slavery. Trust me, I have the energy each and every time, these are not life changing situations because I know who I am, but I understand it’s not that way for everybody, and you have the right to be sad and angry if it does happen, I am not minimizing that.

Anyway, you know I don’t like to give life to too many narratives of white inferiority systems. Unfortunately, to make some points clear about how to raise our confidence, I have to address the behaviors and let you all know that it is not ok. For hundreds of years, our narratives have been falsely interpreted, we have been told that our hair is not professional, or to “not act black”; and even many of us, have told me, that they don’t eat certain foods around white people, IMAGINE! It’s all a bunch of bull to be honest. I always say, you make them your God when you’re always concerned about what they will say about you, and, it is disrespectful to God to care more about what a white person thinks about you, than just being yourself. I know what I am talking about, I can’t have a conversation til’ this with many people without them saying what white people will think. I’m like wow, I don’t even consider their opinions, because they are not relevant as it pertains to my beautiful life. Even if my life wasn’t beautiful, what a white person thinks of me can’t be anywhere on my list. Now the systems that they’ve created, and the lies that have been told to oppress Black people, are of top concern for me to dismantle, that’s macro; opinions are micro, and non-existent in my world. I’m from the suburbs and some of them have said I am from the ghetto, I am not offended by that at all because, if I was from the ghetto, I’m still one of the greatest of all time, so what are you really saying here? So just me being affirmative, loving myself, correcting wrong comments, knowing what I want, holding my head high, has offended many. That is why, when I pray to God in the morning, I ask God to present me to the world as myself, even if it offends, and let it offend, so long as it’s authentic. I am glad to offend you, because you know that you don’t own me. I walk away from your offers, low-balling offers at that, I escape your ideologies, I hurt your ego, I don’t protect you, because I have to do what protects me, and honestly dismantling a system can start from these micro interactions that happen daily.

Your confidence is your mark in this world. Once you live life by design, you activate a uniqueness in you that cannot be taken away. Even if someone’s purpose is similar to yours, it is designed to do something different. Therefore, no need to compete, just be. I have this blog, and many other things, and I love and hype up everything I do, why? because I am certain it belongs here. I know everybody won’t like it, but because I live by design, I know that when God gave me a gift, I was given an audience. That is exclusive of what white people think of me (insert laugh emoji), I have to laugh because that is the one thing I want to eradicate my people of, is thinking that a white persons thoughts will hinder them. Once we all walk in our designs, we dismantle a system while building up ourselves, because we are each actively living in confidence and not fear. I tell you, confidence for Black people will do much more than you think it will do, and it will be a key to unity. When I say confidence, I mean holding yourself to a standard as well, not only acing on what you believe in, but making sure it builds up Africana people.

My Africana people, you are great. Don’t listen to people who tell you to humble yourself in this system, and wait your turn. In this world, humbling myself means – don’t get to big to the point of disrespecting people and tearing people down to think I am better than them, but let’s be clear, you have every right to get what’s yours. Faith without works is dead! We have been taught to wait while unqualified white kids get positions and higher pay than the black person next to them with a masters and years of experience (I used to work in HR, I know!). So no more of that beloveds, go after what you want, with your head high, and speak your experience, you are brilliant. Don’t forget your ancestors built the entire western world with intelligent language systems – (ex. Nsibidi, Andinkra). I used to teach and I was always told that the children, 99% Black, couldn’t do this and that, blah blah blah, and I would prove them wrong every single time. Nobody can tell me what a Black person can’t do, because I’ve exceeded expectations with Black Children, and even adults, that is why my students at the lowest performing school where I was in Namibia were the only ones making PowerPoints. Am I talking too much? Oh well, I am just trying to make sure you know that you are great, Melanated Gem. By the way, have you purchased any Melanated Gem items yet? You should! This body jewelry empowers you and reminds you of who you are with empowering messages and bright colors to represent the colorfulness of the Global Africana Diaspora. Check out these reviews (review #2) from a customer who purchased the other day! Also, get your book of poems, I wrote those to inspire you too! You are love, gem.

~Ndidi Love~

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Be Authentic: #Forward Fridays

Melanated gem, do you know that you were created for a purpose? Everyone says that, but let’s get a bit deeper. Do you know that the very curl of my hair, width of my nose, volume in my voice, quirk in my personality was created to reach the very people I was supposed to reach. I see so many melanated gems complain about features that were downplayed by the very people who created false beauty standards, but literally, you are beautiful. You literally look at yourself, and tell yourself that you are the best version of yourself because it is uniquely you. Not because it’s in comparison to anyone else, but because it has a very reason why it is that way. I love myself so much that I can’t wait to have a daughter to look and act just like me, she’ll have her own purpose too. I see a lot of internalized oppression that reveals itself in colorism, mistreating darker women because the Black woman’s body is seen as ok to abuse and mistreat, that’s the reality. People associate dark with manly and aggressive, so people are comfortable mocking and tearing down darker women. The same with Black men, seen as strong and tough so it’s ok to treat them all the same, according to society. we are seen as beings without feelings, after 401 years sure we’ve become desensitized, right? Not at all, we are still gifted, crafty, intellectuals who shape the world, and we need no validation. I’m here to tell you to take your power back and literally find the strength to see yourself for all the good you are. You validate yourself. Even if someone comes back around and says the opposite, they are telling you more about themselves than you. Be yourself, why? Because the people you are supposed to reach are depending on you. You are depending on you. Imagine living a whole life and never appreciating who you are because of a mere human. A human who is going to their own home, their own purpose, their own self hate, that has nothing to do with you. Once you embrace the very part of you that is harmless and authentically you, then you will discover that it is all part of the purpose of uniquely being you. The laugh, the walk, the harmless thoughts, are your gift to the world. There are loud leaders, and there are silent leaders, Obama led with calm, Malcolm led with boisterousness, but they reached who they were supposed to reach, and so will you! Check out this video I did a couple of years ago on this very subject, enjoy!

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It’s My Hair, Period #TeachMeTuesdays

We have to stop using words like natural hair and 4c hair; it’s my hair, period.

I get that Black women are learning to love our hair in a world that tried to make us hate it, but it’s literally a natural phenomenon for humans to wear their hair. We are literally the only people that distinguish our hair as natural, I hate that it’s seen as revolutionary to simply be yourself, hair and all; self love and all. The most dangerous thing I’ve heard people say is “oh yea she’s into the whole black thing” when describing someone’s love for their hair. or their love for Black people. So to be into yourself, the way you were created, and your community is a “thing”?

We’ve internalized our self hate so much that, the very interest in us, even from us, is seen as “that thing over there”, or strange, or revolutionary. When we make it the norm, we are seen as ingenuine. I remember having to explain to a lady with my same texture hair, tightly coiled, that I love my hair texture. She fond it hard to believe because she didn’t like her hair texture. How does that translate to me? Even with me trying to explain to her that her hair is good, she rejected it.

Who taught you to hate yourself? You didn’t come out of the womb thinking, “my hair is not good”, it had to be taught. If nobody ever taught you how to say natural hair, you’d just be saying “it’s my hair”. I literally think it’s disrespectful to God to say you believe and have faith, but doubt your very value as a human being for something as simple as hair. I remember last year when my white coworker said to me that “all Black women have bad hair”, then she went on to list the Black women in media who she felt had bad hair, such as Viola Davis and Joy Ann-Reid, I ripped into her, and made an example out of her to corporate – but before that, I reminded her that she’s not the norm. I said to her “you don’t get to tell me about my hair because you are not the norm, your hair comes out of your head straight, and mine comes out tightly curled, you are not my standard, I am my standard, and I define my beauty, I do not look to you as the standard”. She seemed baffled that I responded that way, then I proceeded to work my way up until I got an acceptable response from corporate that she was reprimanded on all levels. You see, I told that story because, only outside forces have told you that you weren’t good, melanated gem, but those outside sources are confused. They are insecure, and only insecure people can have the nerve to point out what they don’t like about someone else. Don’t get it confused, I hate white supremacy, and I immediately address any form of discrimination, but I have enough confidence in myself to argue with facts, and not tear down someone’s looks in return. I could care less what your hair looks like, what is your character? If you are an agent of white supremacy, I will bulldoze it out of my path.

Us typecasting our hair and further dividing ourselves shows that we have a long way to go. Some people still prefer looser curls over tight curls, and it’s sick. The NAACP used to be like this, preferring their leadership to be light skinned while fighting for the advancement of Black people. I just don’t understand why in a world where people consider us “other” we have to further “other” ourselves. What foolishness for another Black woman to be patronizing a fellow Black woman, saying “wow, you’re wearing your natural hair, good for you, I can’t wear it like you but go head girl! Just remember to straighten it if you want to work in the corporate world” I hate it, and in so many versions, I’ve heard that several times. That’s why you’ll never hear me mention my “natural hair” again, you’ll see my hair, and it is what it is, I will not respond to any comment about my hair unless it’s “girl, how’d you perfect that twist out?!”

This 4c/3a thing that people do is another paper bag test, to determine what is good hair and bad hair. I’m so over all this crap, and I have other things to revolutionize about, as long as I take care of my hair, that’s all I care about. Take a look at my hair when I had locs, this was at 7 months and I loved the look and texture of it while some people said it was messy, I said, “good!” the point of locs is to let your hair do what it wants.

Of course, we all know that the excellence of African royal systems used hairstyles as a way to identify tribes and class, so our hair is inherently important to us as Black people, but, it was not a matter of texture, and quality of foreign hair weave, it was a matter of braid styles, styles that meant something to their respective AFRICAN culture. Nowadays, people are fighting over quality of Brazilian weave and how far removed your fake hair is from your natural texture – big difference. I have talked a lot about my experience living in Namibia with the only tribe in Africa to practice life before colonialism, the Himbas, and I talked about how their hairstyles determined whether they were married, teenager, elder, etc. However, society’s evolve, and we don’t have the time to do such intricate styles all the time. The point is, however I style my hair is my right, I don’t owe it to anybody to prove who I am by styling my hair “appropriately”. I think in this day and age, healthy hair is much more important than any hairstyle. Even without an intricate style, in this society of many races, my hair identifies me as Black. This is random but, what is a French braid? last time I checked, the French didn’t invent braids, but I digress.

So, my point is, it’s my hair, not natural hair, not 4c hair, not categorized, just hair. Of course, I can describe my hair, but what’s the point? Everyone has eyes to see. My hair is definitely not, “other”. I am my norm, I have no other norm outside of myself.

Let’s talk about the gorilla glue situation. I usually don’t like to talk about individuals on my blog, but I hear a lot of people saying that the situation speaks to the need for Black women to love their hair. Here’s the thing, I believe that we should love ourselves the way we are, but, wearing hairstyles is not an indicator of not loving your hair. For Black women, we love to do our hair, that’s why we spend more money on hair than any other race of women. I think the need to have straight hair at any means necessary is definitely a problem. The need for perfection and willingness to damage our hair far before we get to any type of glue is a problem, and it’s definitely a problem when you don’t feel you hair is good without any attachment. Some women like long hair, like me, and I’ll buy a long, kinky style to mimic my texture because I personally don’t like straight hair for myself. The reason I break this down is because we can’t just make blanket statements without understanding the issue. Hairstyling is not the issue, adding hair is not the issue, it’s the idea that we are not valuable without these things. I don’t know the lady who added gorilla glue, but there are many other ways Black women damage their hair everyday just to be sleek. We need to help Black people understand why that’s not necessary, first, and how to style our hair while protecting it and not damaging our hair texture.

How do we even begin to unapologetically love ourselves? I’m glad you asked, I actually talk about that in today’s Dear Black People™ session called, “Tearing Down Colonial Idols”, register here! Black people, it takes conscious, active, effort to be free, and I am here to help you do that, realizing what’s revolutionary, and what’s needed to really make a change for our generations. Hair is the least of our problems now.

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#MusicMondays… Roc The Mic

Hello All! Many of you know I create – write & produce – my own music, well, sometimes, I hop on someone else’s beat as well! Of course it’s always family friendly, meaningful, uplifting, and geared towards uplifting the Global Black Diaspora. I wrote this verse you’re about to hear for “Roc the Mic” beat by Freeway & Beanie Seagel. After you check it out, register for the Dear Black People™ Webinar Series, week 3 starts tomorrow!