Friday, December 31, 2010

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Thinks Homosexuals As a Group Are Sexual Predators

This is a very long post, but if you care at all about LGBT issues, DADT repeal, and/or the U.S. military, I promise it's worth slogging through all of it.  I received an "action alert" from a progressive group called CREDO this morning about Commissioner William James, who stated the following in an email response to a coworker who wanted to send a letter of thanks to Congressional leaders from North Carolina who voted to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell:
"Homosexuals are sexual predators. Allowing homosexuals to serve in the US military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining US military readiness and effectiveness not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to."
Usually I wouldn't bother even discussing this on my blog.  Like I do for many issues brought to my attention by many different groups, I would send out an email, then notify my Twitter following and Facebook friends that they can do the same.  Today, however, is different because I got an almost immediate response from Commissioner James.  Very few times do the emails I send result in a real response from the official, so I want to make sure everyone who reads this understands that it's a big deal.  Here's our full discussion and I hope that you'll weigh in with your opinions (while of course being respectful both to me and to Commissioner James):

First email* :

December 31, 2010

Commissioner Bill James,

Your recent rhetoric calling gay and lesbian Americans "sexual predators" is
hate speech, plain and simple.  Regardless of your views on the recent
repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it is utterly unacceptable for a public
official to denigrate an entire class of people by labeling all gays and
lesbians "sexual predators."  I demand that you apologize immediately.

For the record, your position on Don't Ask Don't Tell does not make any
sense.  You must realize that the point of the policy was to allow gays and
lesbians to serve in the military in secret.  This means that gays and
lesbians in the miltiary already shower with and share living facilities
with heterosexuals, and it has had absolutely zero negative impact on
military readiness and effectiveness.

I'm truly embarrassed to come from a state that tolerates hate speech from
its elected officials.  In the future, I and the rest of the citizens of
this state who believe in equality and personal freedom would appreciate it
if you keep your bigotry private.


Michelle Carmon

*The italics indicate the part of the email that Credo provided in the template.  Anything not in italics, I added myself.

First Response:
Homosexual behavior is illegal in NC (NCGS 14-177). We arrest about 250 of
them a year here in Mecklenburg alone.

If you don't like that change the law. Democrats have run Raleigh for 40
years (more or less) and never could muster the votes to do so. The GOP  in
Raleigh won't change it either.

Second Email:

As you've seen with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, changes in the law can take many years.  Cohabitation is illegal in North Carolina, but with the growing number of people my age doing just that prior to or instead of marriage, I expect that law may change in my lifetime as well.  Please remember that for a long time it was illegal for a man to marry a woman of a different race, but that law was overturned in 1967 because it was morally unjust.  Going back further, it is written in the United States Constitution in Article I that 3/5 of the slave population should be counted when determining representation in Congress.  It took a Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery almost 100 years later for that law to be changed.  I'm certain that very few people would accept a proposal that would take us back to the original law and make slavery and disproportionate representation legal again - this was an immoral law that changed with the times.

I strongly believe that the government has a responsibility to uphold the law, but it is clear simply by looking at our nation's past that just because a law is still on the books doesn't mean it's morally acceptable, nor does it mean it is the most appropriate law for our current times.  Therefore, citing the law really does not give you a license to denigrate an entire class of people who are simply trying to live their lives with dignity.

Homosexual behavior does not automatically make one a sexual predator, and saying so is morally wrong.  I am shocked that you think that somehow because a person's choices in their private sexual life are to have sex with adults of the same gender that they are somehow sexual predators.  I know plenty of gay and lesbian individuals and they are certainly not in a class with pedophiles or rapists who perpetrate sexual violence.  As a victim of sexual assault, I find it personally insulting that homosexuality is ever equated with sexually predatory behavior - I can assure you that they are not equal in any regard.  Scientists as far back as the 1970s and 1980s agreed that homosexuality is not even appropriately defined as mental illness.  Current, objective analysis of research that has been done over the years has shown that there has been significant bias and misinformation in prior studies.  The general consensus within the scientific community is that at this time, there is no objective (unbiased), scientific evidence showing that homosexuals are any more likely than heterosexuals to engage in sexually predatory activities, such as child molestation or abuse.

The reason speech like this is harmful should be quite evident.  We have had at least half a dozen children across the nation commit suicide this year because they were bullied by those who thought their real or perceived same-sex attractions made them worthy of ridicule and unbearable harassment.  There are countless others who endure every day in silence.  Speech like yours, that puts these minority children in a category with sexual predators, gives bullies of any age an excuse for treating these people disrespectfully.  I don't want my state to become a place where confused LGBT young people are forced to suffer in silence and shame or even resort to killing themselves because they believe what they are told by authority figures such as yourself - that their attractions, which they have little if any power to control, will cause them to become degenerate sexual predators.  There is simply no evidence that such an accusation is true, but perpetuating this belief can cause real harm.

I confess I am not very well versed in conservative politics, but as I understand it the Republican Party prides itself on advocating for less government intervention and fewer restrictions on personal freedom.  It seems to be a core conservative principle, reaching across party lines to Libertarians and independents, to keep government regulation to a minimum and to get it out of the way of individuals and business so that our economy and our country as a whole can prosper. So not only is the stance that homosexual activity should be banned and the homosexuals prosecuted severely misguided, but it appears to go against the basic principles of personal freedom and small government for which Republicans and conservatives are supposed to fight.  Perhaps the objection to homosexuality really stems not from an empirical, scientific basis but from a fundamentalist religious perspective, which is seen to trump the ideals of limited government.  I certainly believe that every American should be able practice their religion freely, but I do not believe that our laws should be based on religious doctrine when that doctrine serves to marginalize and criminalize a minority group.  It is every person's choice to determine whether or not they wish to discriminate in their personal lives or in their churches, but to extend such discrimination to laws that govern private citizens like myself seems to clearly violate the separation of church and state, a core principle that allows our country to be one of the freest nations in the world.

At any rate, I appreciate that you took the time to send a response.  I have respect for those elected officials who are willing to respond to criticism and explain their actions.  Of course, I do pray that you may one day have a change of heart, or at the very least decide to keep such incendiary speech out of the public sphere.


Michelle Carmon
Raleigh, NC

Second Reponse:
You’re welcome. Attached is my specific write up. I don’t think ALL are sexual predators but I do think the ‘group’ has problems and that homosexual leaders refuse to address them.

If DADT is gone then protections should be afforded heterosexual military.

If gay leaders were truly moral and upright they would condemn the MBLA but no…………. just excuses about ‘freedom of speech’.

The commissioner's write up mentioned above was sent to me as a PDF attachment.  For ease of sharing the statement with you, I'm just going to copy and paste the text below (apologies in advance for the block of text, but the formatting isn't going to copy over):

The Red Phone
As you might have noticed, liberals and homosexuals are all up in arms at the thought that anyone would state the truth that homosexuals are predatory. Not that every homosexual is, but as a group, yes.
With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) immorality has gained a foothold in the barracks and showers of the US Military. Liberals say ‘There have always been homosexuals in the military and nothing has happened’. True, but like a whore in church, homosexuals have been on their best behavior because that behavior was illegal and they didn’t want to risk being kicked out. Now that DADT has been repealed, Congress and the Citizens of the US need to develop rules to protect young heterosexual military members from such predatory behavior by homosexuals.
I can hear liberals screaming into their monitors: “They aren’t predators!”
I disagree. Go down to the Dowd YMCA and let them show you the ‘red phone’. They had to put it in to stop homosexuals from ogling straight business men in the showers and changing rooms. The same upper-crust of Charlotte who claim to be for diversity have to install special equipment to protect themselves from the predatory behavior of homosexuals in a place that should be safe, if homosexuals were not predatory. This isn’t news but it is hypocritical of Charlotte’s Observer elite. Charlotte’s red phone isn’t the only one. All across the US there are procedures in place to prevent homosexuals from preying on men at the Y.
Take a look at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police records and they will show you that the police run ‘sting’ operations to target homosexuals who gather in parks. In most of the last few years, 250 homosexuals have been arrested each year by the CMPD for ‘soliciting a crime against nature’. Homosexual conduct is still illegal in NC but even though it is, the red phone and sting operations are still necessary.
A few years ago the County had to spend big bucks redesigning Kilbourne Park so that it did not attract homosexuals. The County Commission spent your tax dollars to protect you and your kids from homosexuals and joined with the police to run a sting operation to identify and arrest them.
Ultimately, the louder liberals yell; the more irrational homosexuals froth at the mouth; the more I am convinced that I am correct to speak about the matter as the next Congress will have to debate and adopt rules to insure that heterosexuals in the military are not targets of unwanted sexual advances.
This all started because NC Senator Burr (a Republican) voted to repeal DADT without even working out the details on how to protect young service members. Shame on him. The attention on this was focused in media articles because of an ill-conceived letter request from BOCC Chair Jennifer Roberts and my comments that service members would be at risk now that DADT was repealed.
As you might imagine I have received a lot of mail, including some from overseas military. One service member said:
“I am currently in my second tour in Iraq, and I have a ….. address. Thanks for having the courage to speak up. I am afraid that from now on, in the military, I will be punished for speaking up now that immoral conduct is condoned. I prayed that this would not happen, but my prayer was not answered in the way that I wanted it to -- maybe God has other plans for the USA that I do not understand.”
Senator Burr, who voted for this has an extra-ordinary responsibility to fix this and protect heterosexual military men and women.
Currently, Men and Women are separated because it would cause sexual problems if men showered, changed, and maintained personal space with women. That is common sense and basic biology. Now that homosexuals are in the military ‘out and proud’ the US Government (and Burr Specifically) should insure that those that ogle men are separate from those that do not, and those that want to ogle women are separate from those that do not.
If you had a 18 year old daughter (let’s call her ‘Buffy’) and she wanted to serve in the military to afford college (G.I. bill) and serve her country would you want her to share a shower with some 35 year old butch lesbians who ogle her (or worse)? That is what is at stake with the repeal of DADT.
Repealing DADT was a left-wing political move made before Christmas by a lame-duck Democrat Congress. That vote comes with some severe consequences for military readiness. The left-wing of America and radical homosexuals will be out in force to try and prevent any rules that would protect Buffy or her male counterpart, Wally. Young kids who enlist will become sexual targets in the new US Military.
Parents with kids in the military (especially in the enlisted ranks) should band together to demand rules to protect their kids from unwanted advances in personal spaces (barracks, showers, and other areas). They can’t put a ‘red phone’ in every military shower but they could separate homosexuals and put them with their own.
The louder they scream the more I know I am right to bring the matter up and Challenge Senator Burr to fix this. The fate of thousands of young military men and women (not to mention the military readiness of the US) hang in the balance.
Commissioner Bill James (R, District 6)
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
600 East Fourth Street, 11th Floor
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Facebook: Meckcommish

Now that you're aware of our two diametrically opposed positions on this issue, I'd appreciate your thoughts. If you'd like to comment directly to Commissioner James, you may do so through CREDO (which I've verified does get a direct, prompt response) or through one of his publicly posted contact methods.  I look forward to hearing your perspective!

Until next time,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why Don't We Care About the 9/11 First Responders?

So, I love these little animated movies people make with XtraNormal and upload to YouTube.  You know which ones I'm talking about - with the little animated characters and computerized voices.  Well, I finally have a free weekend, so I decided to play around with this site and made a video.  Enjoy:

Until next time,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Artic Love, President Obama, and the Sierra Club

I've got one more week exactly until I take the LSAT.  In fact, in a week's time I'll already be in the middle of the first section of the test.  In spite of my furious practice, I do take time in the mornings to check my email.  I got this cute one from the Sierra Club so I thought I'd share the video with you.  Hope it makes you smile:

If you want to electronically sign the card to President Obama about this issue, you can do so here.

Until next time,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sierra Club - Protect Local Communities from Toxic Coal Ash

Environmental issues are near and dear to my heart.  I was an activist for Greenpeace and for the NC Conservation Network both on and offline, but have had to curb my involvement this year due to other priorities.  Somehow I found myself on a different Sierra Club email list than I've been on in the past and this one gives supporters ways to participate in online campaigns.  As I discussed at length a couple of weeks ago, I'm very involved in online campaigns now because they are a non-time consuming way to contact legislative and other government figures about the issues that matter to me.

This online letter campaign is directed at the EPA.  They are considering public opinion on federal regulations for toxic coal ash, and as usual, coal lobbyists are hitting them hard to not pass these needed regs.  I adapted the text of the letter and sent it off this afternooon:

I appreciate this opportunity for public comment on the proposal for new federally enforceable standards surrounding coal ash disposal.  I am sure that you are receiving a lot of push back from the coal industry, but here is my point of view as a private American citizen with no ties to the industry.

First, thank you for recognizing the serious problems posed by toxic coal ash left from the burning of coal. Communities across the country are exposed to heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury seeping from ash storage sites into our drinking water, rivers and streams. The result -- increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses.

As you well know, coal ash is hazardous but less strictly controlled than household garbage. The EPA must adopt enforceable federal safeguards, not suggested guidelines for states, to protect our communities.  This citizen stands behind your efforts to do just that.

If the BP oil disaster and the Tennessee coal ash tragedy taught us anything, it's that we can't just take the polluter's word for it anymore. I urge you to stand up to industry pressure and issue strong, federally enforceable safeguards quickly under Subtitle C to protect communities from toxic coal ash. Continuing to ignore scientific and safety concerns comes at a high cost to our families, communities and economy.  I trust that the EPA will be able to do the right thing by Americans and enact these safeguards.

Thank you very much for your time and the opportunity to share my concerns.

If you're interested in sharing your support for these regulations or even just learning more about this issue (which I encourage you to do before you sign on to anything), please check out this link: Sierra Club Coal Ash Rule Resources.  Educate yourself and then click the Take Action tab if you want to send a letter.

Until next time,

P.S. For those friends who have been following my weight loss journey, I have lost 15 pounds.  I do not look or feel any smaller but I am very encouraged by the results.  More to come on that whenever I take another break from the books. ;)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Letter to Congress: Support NPR not Extremists

I write letters or sign petitions all the time about issues that are important to me.  I'm on the email list for the NC Conservation Network, Planned Parenthood, both of our nation's main political parties, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, HRC, and several others.  In the past I've done some volunteering and protesting with Greenpeace and participated some in the 2008 Obama/Biden campaign, and more recently my county's Progressive Democrats group.  I wanted to get more involved in this year's elections, but I decided that studying for the LSAT so that I can meet my short-term goal of getting into law school starting in 2011 had to take precedence over everything else.

I'll be honest - in a way that makes me feel like an ideological hypocrite.  Let me explain.  I publicize issues I care about by emailing my representatives and sharing articles and petitions via Facebook and Twitter, but I'm not out canvassing, donating vast sums of money, or rallying for sanity.  I guess I really shouldn't beat myself up - I'm not really a part of the oft-criticized social media crowd that allegedly only cares about issues enough to sign up for a "if 1 million people join this, I will..." Facebook group and never think about them again.  I can't find the article I read criticizing this online phenomenon, but here's a rather popular article that sparked a lot of response (mostly from people disagreeing with the writer's claims that online activism isn't really a solution):  I don't think that anyone should try to minimize the impact that writing to your elected officials can have, so I'm trying to get over my misplaced guilt.

While I definitely feel conflicted about online activism and while I really wish I had the time, money, and ability to do more, I will never stop standing up for what I believe in.  I will continue to promote issues I think are important via my Facebook profile, Twitter, and any other social media I deem appropriate.  I will continue to write my legislators, both in state and in Washington, to let them know where one of their constituents stands on the issues.  I will never stop emailing officials, political organizations, religious groups, and outspoken bigots like Focus on the Family regardless of where they are located if their actions and ideological stances are bad for our country.  I will sign petitions in favor of net neutrality, comprehensive bullying education and sex education in public schools, the protection of benefits like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare that mean so much to the low-income clients I serve at my job every day, and legislation that requires insurance companies to provide women coverage for any type of prescription birth control they may want or need.

I thought it might be an interesting experiment to save the messages that I send online about these issues.  I'm going to try and remember to add to the blog the text of the emails and letters I send as another way to promote awareness and spark discussion.  I hope you'll provide me with your feedback on some or all of them.  I sometimes (but not nearly as often as I should) get responses from the people to whom I write.  I have to put in a good word here for Senator Richard Burr, R-NC for being the only politician that has consistently responded to my concerns in writing, even though we quite often disagree on the issues.  I respect and appreciate that so when I can I'll try to post any responses I receive.

Okay so, that was a rather long segue into my first blog post documenting a emailed letter/petition signature I sent to Congress.  The issue is regarding the call to action by Senator Jim Demint, R-SC and former Governor Sarah Palin to end federal funding for NPR.  If you're not familiar with the Juan Williams situation, you can find more information via Google - there are articles galore.  For an insider's perspective, check out this NPR employee's post.  I first heard about the controversy via email from both Free Press Action Fund and Credo Action.  Here is the petition I signed and the one from Credo.  The text of my message is below:

I rely on NPR to provide me with news and political commentary. I don't know where I'd be without them. I grew up listening to Car Talk on Saturday mornings with my father and news during the week when he took me to school. In college, I used to listen to NPR stations to have stimulating classical music to listen to while I studied. Now as a professional adult, I listen to NPR to get my news and stay updated on current events that matter to our nation. My almost 23 year love affair with public radio is just one of many stories, but I share it with you to let you know what a broad and diverse impact public radio has. Even though my needs have changed over the years, NPR has always been there for me to meet them.

Public radio is extremely important to me and to millions of Americans. I understand that some are upset over the recent firing of Juan Williams. I am not going to support or disparage that action. I will say that I do not see that firing someone for perceived bigotry is an offense that should be punished with decreased funding.

Public radio relies on the funds you are considering eliminating in order to function and bring the news, music, political commentary, and entertainment to 30 million Americans across our great nation. Please do not let political pontification at election time cause you to rashly eliminate funding that NPR needs to continue functioning at its current level. Stand up for what's right and defend the public's right to have access to public radio.

Thank you very much for your time.

Some people are arguing that even if this funding cut does happen, NPR won't be affected all that much.  I'm not willing to take that chance.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blog Privacy Has Changed

UPDATE 10/24/10: The offending link was taken down several weeks ago after I threatened to complain to their ISP and site host.  I just haven't had a chance to update the blog again until today.  You may notice some of my earlier posts about my weight loss journey are missing.  This is only temporary - I have inactivated them for the time being since Blogger does not have a feature for limiting the public nature of specific posts instead of the entire blog.  This situation caused me to rethink whether or not I want to broadcast my challenges with losing weight so publicly and I've decided that, for the time being, I'd rather keep it just between us friends.  Your comments have been preserved and will show up again if I determine I'm comfortable republishing the posts.  Thanks again for your support and readership.


I have changed the status of my blog to private.  You hopefully will be able to sign in with your Google Account to view it.  I had to do this temporarily because some jewelry website decided to feature my blog link on their site without my permission.  As this is my personal blog, I really do not want it featured on business websites.  Thanks to my readers/friends for your understanding.  Once I have confirmed the link has been removed, I will open the blog back up to the public.

For future reference, my business blog and this blog are separate.  If you wish to feature something from my business blog, you can find the instructions on the front page of that blog.  If you wish to feature this blog, please contact me in advance at elles.beads[at]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

WTF! Get Out of My Gym!

Dear Apartment Complex Management,

Let me preface this by saying, I love you guys.  You leave me alone and haven't gone up on my rent in 2 years.  The facilities here are great and this really is a nice place to call home.  My problem is with the other people you've let in here who have chosen to use the gym facilities.  I think when people sign their lease they should also sign a form agreeing to practice good gym etiquette.  Namely, people should be informed of the following:

1. The gym is not your home.  Yes, there is a television set inside that has cable.  But don't let that confuse you into thinking you're in your living room.  That funky looking chair isn't actually a chair at all - it's an exercise machine!  Crazy, right?  So please, if you want to watch T.V., either go home or actually use the machine.  It's really not cool for you to take up space on the machines napping and catching your favorite programs.  (Make sure to explain this in their native language too.  I would have asked the woman to move, but she acted like she only spoke/understood Korean.)

2. The gym is not a bar.  At a bar, it may be normal for you to try and chat up the woman next to you.  (Don't do this to me there either though. Thanks!)  However, at the gym where people come in their grungy workout clothes preparing to sweat it to the 90s, it is not the place for you to strike up a long conversation about anything. At all.  Say hello (or not) and get back to your own business.  That person you're eying is not at the gym looking for lectures on how the fructose in their Gatorade will make them fatter or how large people and stocky dogs lost weight faster in the 1940s when there was less CO2 in the air.  (Seriously, some guy just talked to me through HALF of my workout about that, turning on the elliptical machine sideways to stare at me and make sure I was still paying attention.  I cut it short and didn't even stretch and booked it out of there after 20 minutes.)  If you want to have a platform to spew your nonsense to people, go to a bar, join a discussion group, or do what I do and write a blog.  Just don't do it at the gym.  Headphones in a girl's ears and heavy breathing from the jogging she's doing are two very good indicators that she's really not looking for conversation right now.

3. The gym is NOT YOUR HOME.  Is that sinking in yet?  Clean up after yourself, because your mom/girlfriend/roommate isn't going to do it for you.  It's disgusting to see your dried sweat on the machine I'm about to use.  Management is kind enough to provide you with 409 and paper towels...and not because they make the place look pretty.  Wipe off the machine when you're done.  Thoroughly.  Like you'd want the machine left for you.  I'm going to clean it again before I touch it anyway, but seriously - clean up your bodily fluids so I don't have to.

I think making all gym users sign this agreement and posting it all around the gym as well will help to curb some of the annoying habits several residents seem to have.  You're not going to get everyone to comply.  However, this fat girl is going to have to use the gym several days a week over the next months and would greatly appreciate you trying.  Thanks!


Your Usually Non-Complaining, Happy-Go-Lucky Resident

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sarah Palin's on my Nightstand??

I decided a couple of months ago that my brain was slowly rotting away by subjecting it to hours upon hours of copying, filing, and letter writing at work only to come home to hours and hours of television shows on Hulu.  There's only so much Hell's Kitchen you can watch before you realize it's time to get some mental stimulation from somewhere.  I was always an avid reader as a child so I looked and looked for a book club to join that wouldn't be a bunch of 30+ women reading romance novels like I feared but would have men and women my age reading nonfiction books that made me really think.  I found that in the Hungry Intellectuals Book Club the last month they had a site on  I'm really glad I skirted in at the last minute.

So I haven't actually read a whole book through yet, but I'm working on it for March.  Being in this club has encouraged me to start using the local library more and to really make time to turn off the television, step away from the laptop, and just kick back with a good read.  Right now we're reading the Last Child in the Woods about how our relationship with nature has changed over the past couple of generations.  I'll wait to pass judgement on it until I've finished it but so far it seems to resonate with my own experiences.

I also picked up a book that would give just about everyone I know pause, regardless of their political affiliation: Going Rogue by Sarah Palin.  If you know me, you know I'm a huge pro-choice, tree hugging, gay loving progressive whose only regret so far about campaigning for President Obama in 2008 is that he's just not liberal enough.  So why on earth am I attracted to Sarah Palin?  She represents everything I stand against and yet I waited on a hold list behind about 600 other people to get this book so I could here what she had to say about how mavericky she is. (I've read 10 pages and I'm already sick of the phrase "politics as usual" again.)  For me it's all about exposure.  I'm fascinated by the fact that so many people are fascinated and captivated by this woman.  And I can't criticize (think critically about) something I don't really know or understand.  I am going to spend a few hours reading a book so I can understand what some of my acquaintances see in her and what the attraction to her brand of politics is.  I'm hoping to tap into that Palin-fever just for the time I'm engaged in her book and really take away from it what motivates people to be attracted to a particular leader.

To be a successful advocate for your causes you must 1. Know what your beliefs are and 2. Know what opposing beliefs there are and where  you agree and disagree.  I also have considered going into politics either from the official direction or the journalistic direction, so it would be interesting to note where some of the fervor over her is coming from.  I think it's going to be an interesting read and I'm hoping that I come out of it with great insight and more respect for former Gov. Palin than I currently have (which is about zero).  Even if I come out still sick to my stomach over her Fox News-worthy ideologies, I'll at least have learned something.  Exposure.  I really hope the process is not to painful.  If it becomes so, I'll at least have a good drinking game.  (One sip every time the words "politics as usual" "maverick" "energy reform" "drill" etc. come up and I'll likely be high as a kite!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Am Not My Hair...But I Am

Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend?
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
I am expressing my creativity...
I Am Not My Hair - India Arie

I just watched Good Hair by Chris Rock and I was floored.  I learned so much!  I recommend this movie to anyone, black, white, or otherwise, who is interested in learning about an entire culture of men and women who express themselves (for better or worse) through their hair.  It made me think a lot about myself.  I'm currently transitioning from the so-called "creamy crack" to natural hair and it's not easy.  The pressure to conform to the ideal of straight hair is enormous.  My own grandmother who I think the world of and who understands me better than anyone else can't even understand why I'd want to go natural.  She asks me every weekend when I go visit her what on earth I'm going to do with my hair if I don't have a relaxer.  Really, I'm not 100% sure.  What I am sure of is that there are plenty of fabulous styles I can try out until I figure out what works best with my hair and my face.  I'm also sure that I want to express myself and be proud of how I look without having to use harsh chemicals to try to achieve an impossible ideal.  Maybe I'll never look like the models in the magazines or the famous black women with gorgeous (often $1000+ Indian weave) hair that I see on television, but I'll be myself and I'm cool with that.

This movie really inspired me to just not care what other people say about my hair because in the end it's not really the most important thing about me.  Just like there's nothing wrong with people who decide for personal reasons to dye their hair or use weaves to have beautiful and model-esque hair, there's nothing wrong with me for wanting to truly be natural and embrace what makes me an African American.  Both choices are okay and don't reflect anything positive or negative about what kind of people we are.

I say all this but it's not easy.  It's hard not to judge myself for my choice and it's hard not to judge other people for taking what appears to me to be the easier route by conforming to what society says we should look like.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't conflicted.  I'd be a hypocrite if I said that I didn't envy those women with "good hair."

Why on earth does this matter?  Why is this my first post?  I really want to have another outlet outside of my business blog where I can say whatever is on my mind and truly express myself.  I need a place where I can write something longer and more in-depth than what I can say in 140 characters on my Twitter page, so this is it.  I hope you'll feel free to comment, agree, disagree, debate, react, etc. at any time!