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!