Monday, May 20, 2013

Zoe Saldana and the Nina Simone biopic disaster

Since the announcement ofa biopic on the life of pianist, singer and civil rights activist, Nina Simone,fans have been buzzing in anticipation of having the story of the late greatartist told. To the dismay of many however, actress Zoe Saldana has been chosento portray the blues icon.

Saldanais most known for her roles in science fiction movies like Avatar and the latest version of Star Trek, which has a sequel premiering this summer. While bothmovies required the 34 year old actress to learn a different language and toportray as an alien species, they did not prepare her for the backlash she hasbeen receiving for the role of portraying a real American icon.

Muchof the criticism derives from critics’ opinion that the young actress bearslittle resemblance to Nina Simone. “Musician India.Arie said "they shouldhave chosen someone who looks like Nina Simone," and an online petitionfor a boycott of the film attracted more than 10,000 signatures.” (Lawless) Manyargue that because Saldana bears little resemblance to Simone in both skin andhair texture, she will not be able to tell the story of Simone in a realistic sense. 

TheAP reports that Saldana feels very strongly that she is the right actress toplay Nina Simone. “The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I'm reallyblessed that I did it,” said Saldana, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican andDominican descent.” (Lawless) Nina Simone, along with her amazing talents has amusician, had a major influence on the civil rights movement with songs, “Young,Gifted & Black”, and “Mississippi Goddam”.

“Justlike everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that (this) wasa story that needed to be told.” (Zoe Saldana) Saldana feels that her talent asan actress and the importance of telling Nina Simone’s story on screen areworth the controversy that she has thus endured since taking the role. 

Lawless, Jill. "Zoe Saldana: Nina Simone Controversy Wont Deter Me From Telling Story." The Huffington Post 15 May 2013: 5.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Diving into the Roots; The Big Deal about Black Women's Hair

Be it Natural, relaxed, coarse, or curly, braided or locked, black hair requires a lot of time attention and care. From days of childhood black women have sat in the laps of maternal figures as our hair was parted, greased and braided. Only to find it unraveled by the end of the week to suffer the repercussions of a good wash and the brutality of the hot comb.
From the stages of young girlhood and then teenage years, one would think that by womanhood we would have mastered the delicate art of hair care and style of our own black hair. Yet that idea is quite the contrary, black women continue to change, redo, unbraid, go natural, stay relaxed, cut their hair and try millions of styles within any given month. There are several reasons for the constant changing of black women's hair, besides the indecisiveness and satisfaction with just one style of coif; black women face a myriad of issues when it comes to keeping their "du" intact. From issues of dry scalp, shrinkage and dull hair, black women are constantly trying new products and strategies to keep their hair healthy and intact.

Recently, there has been a great movement of many black women to make a shift from relaxed hair to natural. As a relaxed sister interested in the movement, I asked a natural sister, Mudwia Pettus, graduating senior, English major at Claflin University about her choice to go natural and she relates that
"I decided to "go natural," because I noticed that my hair was thinning over the years. Eventually, my hairline started disappearing, and the thinning became noticeable. It was terrible! I discussed possible causes with various hair stylists, and someone eventually suggested that I take a break from relaxing my hair. Once I stopped relaxing my hair, my hair returned to its prior fullness, and my hairline filled back in. Now, no one can tell that I ever had an issue. Essentially, I decided to go natural, because I didn't want to eventually end up bald."
 She goes on to relate that while it is not a proven fact that all relaxed women lose their hair, she finds the transition to natural hair to be the best choice for her. Ms. Pettus has been natural for a year and six months. She went on to relate the joy she now finds in doing her own hair.

“One of the greatest things about natural hair is that it easier and cheaper to do your own hair than when you are relaxed. If I want to change my hair, I don't have to schedule an appointment with a stylist. I just pick a style that I want to try, go get the needed products from under my bathroom sink, and get to work. Doing your own hair as a natural-haired woman is often the fiscally responsible choice as well.”
It is true that black women spend tons of money on our hair care from products and styling utensils to going to a professional salon several times a month, the costs do add up. There are so many products out there that one often spends extra money on several different brands just to find a product that works for one’s specific hair type. Recently the Clutch Magazine online featured an article on a new social networking site designed specifically to carter to the needs of black women’s hair.

MadamYou or @techturized is a social network for women of color that bridges the gap between natural and relaxed hair divisions to create a space for simply healthy black hair. Clutch magazine recently interviewed the founders of MadamYou, who are a group of techie's and scientists who have researched the best tips and products for women of color all available in one place. “Madame You is the only social network for hair and beauty that combines science and technology to provide recommendations for women to make better hair decisions.” (Dionne) The MadameYou site will launch officially on Monday, April 29 2013.

I also asked a black sister with relaxed hair about her regimen. Nicole Cramer, senior English major at Claflin University, had this to say about her short, curled coif.
“I have a relaxer because it is just more manageable. My hairstylist, who has had years of experience and research does my hair with differing styles. The texture, I have thick coarse hair. Freshly curled all over. If the curls go flat, I take a flat iron and try to bump it up for the body. I do my own hair, when I can't make it to the salon. I go every other week.”

Black hair is among one of the most discussed issues in circles of black women and more recently among pop culture when it even comes to discussing the First Lady’s new style of bangs. Black women and more importantly our dress and hair is always up for debate and called into question. In a lecture given at Spelman College, on February 21, 2013, Melissa Harris Perry noted that “The Hair of African American Women is a problem and a mystery.”  Whether our hair is natural or relaxed, braided or styled with a bang, our hair is a political statement and we are thus judged accordingly. The more we embrace our roots and keep testing the waters of products and styles, the more the world will have to get used to our ever changing styles.

Dionne, Evette. "Madam You: A Social Networking Site for Black Women's Hair." The Clutch 15 April 2013: 1-2.
Harris-Perry, Melissa. “More Than a Vote: Women’s Struggle for Full Citizenship”. Ida B Wells-Barnet
Distinguished Lecture Series. Cosby Academic Center Auditorium, Spelman College, Atlanta 21 Feburary 2013. Lecture.
Kathleen Nicole Cramer,, 
Mudwia Pettus,,