*This interview was produced for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally.*
Where do you live?
S: I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I rep Philly because I feel as though “I grew into myself” there, but I’m originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
What do you do?
S: I am an Assistant Professor and the Audre Lorde Endowed Chair in Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville. I teach courses in the Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and Pan-African Studies.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
S: I went natural in 2003 and began to loc my hair in 2005. I went from wearing weaves and perming, to growing my perm out and wearing my hair in two small buns. I wore this hairstyle for a while, but became sick of it. It was actually my friend Yaba, who made me consider loc-ing my hair. She was tired of my buns, and didn’t think they did anything for me. I was reluctant, but I eventually came around to see what she saw, and began my locs with two-strand twists.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
S: Going natural for me has allowed me to actually LOVE my hair. I play in it. Talk to it. And enjoy grooming it often. When I had a perm I just did at-home perms and dyed it whenever I wanted. I would also smack weaves on my hair from time to time too. This proved to damage my hair. It was dry, breaking off everywhere and if I didn’t have weave in, I thought my hair looked crazy, lol! So going natural and eventually loc-ing really engendered a true appreciation and love of my hair.
How would you describe your hair?
S: The texture of my hair is a mix between a tighter curl pattern the longer my hair grows and a looser curl pattern closer to my scalp. My hair is not really that thick. I wish it was, lol! Behavior? Hmmm. It behaves because it grows : )
What is your regimen?
S: I wash my locs every day. I know that most natural hair care stylists do not recommend this, but it works well with my hair. Then I apply olive oil that is mixed with an essential oil, usually lavender to give it a fresh fragrance. I shampoo with Africa’s Best Olive Oil Shampoo or Dr. Bronners Peppermint Magic Soap. I rarely condition because it causes a lot of unnecessary build up in my locs.
I also give my locs a hot oil treatment once a week with just regular olive oil. I just started doing this and it works great!! I use Aloe Vera gel from Whole Foods to twist and braid my locs, and to give them a curly effect. For styles I use Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Smooth-n-Hold Pudding.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
S: I used to dye my locs all the time. While I have found my natural hair to be stronger than my permed hair, regular dye has dried out my locs from time to time. So the next time I dye them I will be going to a professional, lol!
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
S: Washing and moisturizing daily, re-twisting my locs every two weeks, and styling my hair once a week has been working really well for me.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
Anything else you want to add?
S: I absolutely love hair in its natural state. It is simply beautiful. I feel the same about Black women. Consequently, Black women + Natural Hair = FABULOUS, FESTIVE, and FIERCE!