R: I am currently living in Southern Illinois. I’m a graduate master’s student studying history at Southern Illinois University. My home town is Chicago, South Side!!! But I plan to head to the South to work on a PhD in summer 2011.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
R: Going natural was never a conscious decision for me. I was never really regular with getting a relaxer, I probably put one in every 4 months or so.
I did a relaxer in August 2002 and that November I put my hair in tiny two strand twists that I didn’t take out. This was not an intentional move, it just happened. My hair locked. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of friends who had locs. They encouraged me not to take the twists out and helped me maintain my hair.
Around June 2003 some other friends convinced me to take out my locs. Yes, my hair was loc’d fully and it took 3 people two weeks to comb them all out. I found myself with a huge curly fro that I had no clue how to manage. Two days later, I walked into a random beauty salon and asked for a relaxer. The beautician insisted on using a lye based relaxer because he said my hair wouldn’t take otherwise. Having no clue about relaxers, I let him.
When I saw my loc’d group of friends that afternoon, they were sad but one in particular went on and on for weeks about how it is important to have natural hair. I didn’t quite understand all he was saying then, but I never put a relaxer in my head after that. I was not consciously transitioning, I just continued to do my hair like normal. I never cut my ends. I just let my hair grow. I loced it again in 2004 and cut them and any remaining relaxer off in June 2005.
Being natural has kind of put me into an advisory position for other women I know. Many are very interested in going natural and I find myself answering questions about what to do in daily life and online. Currently, I am using my thesis research to examine natural hair from a historical perspective. I began a YouTube channel last November dedicated to my loose natural hair and that opened up many opportunities.
I am a member of the NappyMuse.com live web broadcast show as well as a regular correspondent for Nappturalite Radio on blogtalk.com. I have had the opportunity to host a natural hair book signing for Chris-Tia E. Donaldson, author of Thank God I’m Natural and had a natural hair meet up for women on my campus. The campus event had a turn out of over 40 people and I was able to give away samples from natural hair companies (including Karen’s Body Beautiful, Bee Mine, Kinky Curly and Mixed Chicks) to women who had no idea that products were even made for natural hair.
The women demanded a second meet up and we are in the process of creating a student organization for natural hair! I guess I can say going natural has made me a Natural Advocate.
What is a brief description of your regimen?
R: I co-wash my hair every morning with whatever conditioner my hand lands on. After my shower, while my hair is still dripping wet, I rub in some of my own homemade whipped shea butter. Then I pull it back into a puff. Because it’s now warm, I can take advantage of wash and go’s everyday. I detangle and deep condition once a week with a mix of olive oil, honey and conditioner. If I need to clarify my hair, I use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap.
On a very non-regular basis, I use Miss Jessie’s products. In the first picture I used Miss Jessie’s quick curls. It makes my curls POP. But it’s a once in a while thing. #1 that stuff is expensive and #2 I prefer to make my own goodies.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
R: A few months ago I was in the middle of a deep condition with tons of oil on my head when my husband suggested we run to grab a bite to eat. It was still winter and I was not ready to rinse out my hair, so I sat under my dryer to stop my dripping. Ten minutes later I realized I fried the top part of my hair. Oil + Heat = DAMAGE. My hair in that region still frizzes and doesn’t curl up like the rest of my hair. But it’s slllooowwly reverting. I haven’t sat under that dryer since.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
R: Put water in it. Whenever it does not look right or feel good, hopping in the shower to soak it always works!
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
R: Yes! I just started a new website/blog http://ToBeANaturalista.com. I am hoping to address some of the more political and intellectual discussion concerning natural hair, but I explore products and everything else that comes with being a natural woman.
I have an online store featuring my whipped shea butter and imported African and Indian Jewelry at http://naturalistas.ecrater.com/.
I also am a YouTuber http://youtube.com/sumkindawndrful
And you can always follow me on twitter as SumKindaWndrful.