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Blog

These are my thoughts, yo.

Filtering by Tag: arkansas

"Can I Touch Your Hair?" A Black Girl in Siloam Springs and a Moment of Racial Reconciliation.

jasmine banks

Macenna-before-and-after.jpg

My God sister, Macenna, is beautiful. We were both raised similarly. We learned that our kinky/curly hair was ugly. We grew up in Sand Springs, Oklahoma in the Charles Page Family Village.  I can recall fond memories of Macenna's hair. I was in junior high. I knew how to braid. I would come over to Macenna's house. She would sit between my knees and I would grease her scalp, comb through her hair, and twist and braid. Macenna and I were both born to White mothers and Black fathers. Macenna's hair is kinky and coarse and mine is coarse in some spots, but mostly smooth spirals. Both of our hair textures are "ethnic." Macenna would cry and wail, "I HATE MY HAIR!" Her hair was relaxed, a style she knew from a very young age. One day, during Macenna's senior year, I showed her Around The Way Curls. "Please stop relaxing your hair, I begged!" I clicked through every blog post of Shanti and Antoinette.  Look how beautiful their hair is, OUR hair is! Will you just try it, please?

Macenna agreed and I  helped her purchase a starter kit from Carol's Daughters. I sent her home praying she would give it a try and break her addiction to the creamy crack.

She stuck with it and her hair grew to reveal a beautiful afro. Her natural cinnamon and chocolate toned hair is amazing. She is natural and won't go back.

Macenna

Today we shopped in downtown Siloam Springs. Siloam Springs, for those who don't know, is not a place where you might be able to see a lot of Black women with natural hair styles. There is gentrification to the max and diversity isn't something we can claim. So when we landed on the topic of hair in one of the local vintage shops, Amandromeda, I was more than a little nervous.  I've sat through uncomfortable conversations with well meaning white women  in Siloam saying they wished they had a "ghetto booty" like me. I've fielded questions from white stylists "why do you have this nappy section around your forehead". They all, of course, claim not to be racist... but we all know these kind of ignorant statements are latent racism. I've typically not said too much. I figure people aren't looking for me to educate them. With my nose piercing, arm full of tattoos, and outspoken stances of feminism and sexuality I do well enough to not be verbally accosted without adding race to the table.

Macenna and I talked about hair wraps as Amanda Orcutt, the owner of Amandromeda, sat behind the desk. Amanda grinned and joined our conversation. "What does your hair look like without the bandana, what shape is it?" Macenna took off her bandana and happily showed off her beautiful afro. She pulled up images on Facebook. "Here is my hair after a deep condition and braids." Amanda gushed, "Oh my! It is sooooo beautiful." She paused then proceeded: "Is it okay if I can touch it?"  Macenna's smile grew wider and she leaned in as Amanda walked around the counter. Amanda pawed at Macenna's hair. "I just love it" she exclaimed.  I told Amanda about Macenna's hair evolution and how it was a struggle to  embrace our natural hair. She scrunched her wild mix of curly and straight hair. "Me too", she said, "I used to flatiron my hair and I am trying to be okay with how it is naturally."

This is racial reconciliation.

Amanda saw the race line and she stepped over it. She fearlessly asked to experience Macenna's hair, appreciated it, and then connected herself to two Black women by letting us know that her White natural hair was hard to embrace as well. We reconcile ourselves to each other when we honor our differences AND express empathy for shared existences.

A black girl visiting Arkansas, in a town where you can barely find a product to care for her coif, encountered a beautiful act acceptance in the heart of Siloam Springs. Thanks Amanda Orcutt what you did today was brave and beautiful.

 

Brace Face: Bright Smiles, Bright Futures with @ColgateSmile & Champions For Kids

jasmine banks

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Jasmine with braces I was a brace face! I had braces. When people who know my story find out I had braces they look at me puzzled. A homeless kid with a struggling single mom who had braces? Yep. I did. "I want to tell you something," she said to me with a huge grin. " I talked to Dr. Kirkpatrick and he said he could do you and Isaiah's braces for free."  I started crying. I wanted a healthy and beautiful smile, but we struggled to have groceries on a regular basis, so asking my mom for braces was out of the picture. My godmother, Barbara was always working miracles like this for me and my brother. She bought me my first under wire bra and always had the most amazing hair care products to pass on to me. She knew that my brother and I never really had dental care and she had pulled some strings with her son's orthodontist.

I never realized, until after my braces were off, how important taking care of your teeth and your smile is. Self esteem and how you greet the world starts with your mouth. Your mouth is also the first thing people look at. More than social perception, dental/oral care is an indicator of where your heath is. In Arkansas more than half the children (400,000) live at or below the poverty rate.

Poverty means little things like oral health and hygiene get shoved to the side.

Realities like mine, and children in Arkansas, are the reason campaigns like Champions For Kids: Colgate "Bright Smiles, Bright Futures" are so important. CFK & Colgate are about making sure under privileged children get the resources they need to have the best futures; bright smiles included.  Champions for Kids has partnered with Colgate and Wal-Mart stores in the Central Arkansas area to bless kids with the tools for oral health! I headed to North Little Rock to check out one Wal-Mart and the donation drop off center.

Colgate Dora

 

It was easy to find the donation drop off. Dora the Explorer and Spongebob Colgate welcomed me as I read the instructions on how to participate in this "simple service project".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CFK ad

 

 

The donations given at the participating locations go directly to the school districts they are located in and directly to the hands of children who need them. I browsed the aisles and picked up a couple of toothbrushes and Colgate toothpastes to donate.

Toothbrushes

Not all of us can convince a orthodontist to donate braces to a needy child, but we can afford a few toothbrushes and some toothpaste...  What matters most is we care. Simple projects like picking up Colgate toothpaste and toothbrushes are easy and quick ways to help children in your community.

CFK display

 

 

To learn more about Champions For Kids and their Simple Service projects check out Twitter, or look them up on Facebook. Follow along with #Colgate4Kids or tweet Colgate at @ColgateSmile to see all the people participating with "Bright Smiles, Bright Futures." CFK is working to mobilize 20 million people by 2020 to become champions for kids!

 

 

belt images

 

*I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study forColgate and Champions for Kids #cbias #SocialFabric, but all opinions are my own.

Arkansas' Abortion Ban Hurts Women and Fattens Pockets

jasmine banks

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Arkansas abortion laws are making news. Pro-choice women and feminists are getting pretty hot and bothered about this unconstitutional mandate. The implications of these laws for women are horrific.  My friend, Laurie is weighing in on Arkansas legislators and what she perceives their intentions are. 

 

Arkansas passes abortion ban

You may have read in the news lately that some geniuses in the Arkansas legislature are working hard on becoming the Favored Sons to the big Christian right lobbies and the anti-abortion political groups that have big dollars to spend on the campaigns of candidates who can quote the Bible on the floor of their respective State Capitols. Oh, wait... I'm sorry... they're really working hard to save babies. That's it... they're simply making sure that every little soul created in heaven gets to be sent to earth to live out their pre-determined life and - hey, who knows!? - maybe become a famous-for-a-few-months quarterback! That would be awesome, right?? And don't forget all those sweet, Christian (straight) couples who would love to have a baby to love... can't deny them that joy, right??

 Who does this really impact?

Let's be real... anti-abortion legislation has not so much to do with the sanctity of life or the lack of available adoptable babies as it does with the desire for certain men (and women) to make sure that women who are living sinful lives are forced to live with the consequences of that sin. This is not about the lives of unborn children - it is a holier-than-thou law created by men who believe it is their right and place to make sure that women can't have sex whenever they wish and run off to the doctor to have the results of that sex eradicated along with their hangover. It is legislating with the Bible, which is clearly prohibited by the separation of church and state.

 "Just say no" to sex... just doesn't work!

These individuals ignore national statistics that clearly show contraception and sex education prevents unwanted babies, NOT the state of abortion law one way or another. They ignore the fact that incidences of abortions are fewer and less deadly now than they were before Roe v. Wade... because they simply don't care. It's about the BABY'S right to live, remember... the mom is just the blessed giver of life. And a drain on the welfare system. They smile and remind us that there's always adoption! The Adoption Option! Nevermind that there are not enough adoptive or foster parents available for the CURRENT foster children in our state. They don't care that most women who carry a child to term don't have the access to resources that will help them make a decision to put it up for adoption, thereby guaranteeing that it will be kept in a home where it is unwanted, most likely living in poverty and very possibly neglected and abused.

Just because it is YOUR religion, doesn't mean it should be MINE!

They are preaching from the House and Senate and they believe that they are somehow charged by God not to care for those less fortunate and infirm in their state (as Jesus actually commanded his followers to do in the New Testament) but instead, to judge, pass laws and legislate their own beliefs upon the people of our state. They operate with complete disregard to the law currently in place, let alone the laws that were written (and the REASON those laws were written) when our country was founded. They holler about the "founding fathers", but completely ignore the reason those same men were on the North American continent in the first place... to escape STATE-MANDATED RELIGION. Church attendance has been in a decline for a couple of decades and the message of Jesus Christ has been losing its sheen. And these men (and a few women) and their self-serving, arrogant understanding of God's word are the reason. They will thump their chests and congratulate each other on the passage of this ridiculous bill, and desperate women will continue to line up for abortions... but hey, if the big fat checks come in from those anti-abortion groups for their next run for Congress, it's all worth it, right?

glasses and hatLaurie is closer to 50 than 30, but sometimes pretends she's in her 20s. When she's not working as a writer and social media maven for a local non-profit organization, she's busting out some creative mojo for her side-gig, Junque Rethunque (vintage and reclaimed home accessories and decor) and building her free-lance portfolio. She's a mom to three and "Nonnie" to one, has three cats and loves two, raises chickens in the backyard, can't wait to dig in the dirt this spring, and is kind of thrilled to be an early adopter of the Vine app. Read more of her words on her blogs here, and here.