To Weave or Not To Weave

Standard
To Weave or Not To Weave

What’s the big deal about our hair?

By, Ascellia M. Arenas
  
To weave or not to weave; that is the question. This summer I’ve given my natural hair a break. Currently, I’m rocking my hair in its natural state. No perm, no texturizer; just a simple wash and go style. I’ve worn my hair this way many times throughout my life. This is not my first “big chop,” all I did was remove my extensions, no chop. My first “big chop” was in elementary school. I begged my mother to let me get a perm so I can look like her and my older sister. My fuzzy curly mop didn’t look smooth like theirs. She gave in, my father was furious because he didn’t think I needed to do anything extra to enhance my appearance; he still thinks the same way, I digress… I love all different types of hairstyles, I don’t judge women about their choice of wearing natural hairstyles or wearing perms, weaves and wigs. It is a personal choice. What makes you feel good? Why does it make you feel good? 
I play with hairstyles all of the time because I know, it’s just HAIR. I have worn my hair all types of ways. Weaves, wigs, braids, perms, shaved completely bald, dyed platinum blonde, you name it! Recently, popular culture has given women of color “permission” to wear our natural locks with pride. We have consciously changed the narrative about how we want to wear our hair. The natural hair movement is in full swing! We even have Curl Fest, a festival where women with all different types of hair meet and celebrate HAIR! No hair shaming, just appreciation and proactive care for natural hair. I love it. 
Women of color have fought this battle tremendously, especially during the 20th century, via various forms of media. We have sacrificed our personal concept of our image in an effort to sustain our lives and the lives of our families. All women have a hair struggle story: be it how getting a hairdo is a ritual, how she will or will not be accepted because of her curl pattern or lack thereof, length, color, how a certain hair style will ensure her social status and more. Psychological attachments to hair and identity are very real. If you don’t believe me, ask a woman, any woman, about her hair journey. It is a universal truth for females. The narrative is different but the common core of acceptance flows through each, regardless of race. 
As early as the late 19th Century women of color were influenced to change the texture of our hair. We are all very aware of the first female African-American millionaire, Madame C J Walker, who introduced pomades and hot combs to help women of African decent wear straightened hairstyles. Garret Morgan, the inventor of the chemical relaxer, introduced us to dressings and treatments to help us “tame” our curls, as well. All of these dressings were created to make women appear  “well groomed” i.e. suitable. In 1971, Proline/Dark and Lovely introduced the lye based relaxer which was mass produced and sold for use in salons and at home. For well over 100 years, women of color have been conditioned to “do something with that hair,” which usually means-straighten it to make it look more appealing to what we are told is appealing so says popular culture. You still there? Do you get it? Somebody said something was wrong with our hair and we believed it. 
We have choices when it comes to wearing our hair in different hairstyles. In an effort to “fit-in”  in corporate America many non-white women opt for a smooth hair style that is complementary to the image that their business presents. Many fear that they will not be promoted in their industry because of how they look. Women fear looking “less feminine” or intimidating if they wear braids, locs, locks, or any other type of natural hairstyles to work. This has been topic of discussion in the media since 1990’s where specifically African-American women were forbidden to wear braids, locks, locs, or other natural hairstyles, in the US Military. This impacts our ability to earn, hence our ability to provide. This matters especially if she is a single parent.
Entrepreneurial women of color have the option of wearing their hair in a natural style or in a weave style at their own discretion. Whether or not her business increases or decreases because of her appearance will determine her demographic and her success. Our hair carries so much weight, literally and figuratively. 
So, the question remains…to weave, or not weave? What do you think? 

Get L.I.T. Workshop

Standard
Get L.I.T. Workshop

By, Ascellia Arenas

It was an esteemed honor to be invited by my father’s (Dr.J.A. “Chico” Arenas) fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, ETA NU Chapter, Pompano, FL; to join them in their first “GET L.I.T.” Community Outreach Event. I led my workshop with the young ladies, “Writing Like a P.R.O,” and discussed how writing and literacy impacts their social media presence. The men of Omega Psi Phi invited me to share with the entire group, as well. I extended my commitment to serve with the chapter’s youth group to encourage citizenship, academic scholarship, and political activism throughout next school year.

Today’s program also included:

FREE BLOOD MOBILE Ω HIV SCREENING Ω HEALTH SCREENING Ω SWAT (STUDENTS WORKING AGAINST TOBACO)

TECHNOLOGY WORKSHOP Ω UNITED WAY Ω LEGAL-SHIELD Ω RONALD MCDONALDS TABS PROGRAM Ω RELAY FOR LIFE

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS Ω VOTER REGISTRATION Ω FLOMOBIL Ω ALI CULTURAL CENTER Ω NAACP.

I am proud to be a good “lil sister” to the Men of Omega Psi Phi and it is an honor to assist them in their endeavors.

Girls Trip Will Change Your Whole Entire Life

Standard
Girls Trip Will Change Your Whole Entire Life

Girls Trip…Life Lessons

By, Ascellia M. Arenas
I’m sure after you watched “Girls Trip,” you didn’t think that you would walk away with life lessons that would help you design a path for the rest of your life. The movie starts off with the women living their individual lives, after graduating from college, having settled into their own families, and career paths. It is quite evident that the women are over the age of 40 and have an appreciation for life that women of a particular age do not have, yet. The type of appreciation shown by these ladies doesn’t usually manifest in women until after turning 40 years old, I digress. How does watching “Girls Trip,” change your life? Follow me…

1. Plan a trip/vacation with NO MEN ALLOWED. Sometimes you need to disconnect just to get back to yourself. If men show up along the way…remember who the guest list originally included. Plan a “baecation” for different time. 
2. Eat the cake. You only live once. Stop being so uptight. 

3. Everybody can’t be in VIP. Who said having VIP status to everything you attend actually makes you important? Chill Sis, it’s totally okay to be regular sometimes.

4. If he treats you bad, I’m speaking up. As your friend, I can’t co-sign anybody doing things that are hurtful to you. I’m going to tell you that it’s not cool and ultimately it will be your choice to take action, even if that action is to not speak to me for a little while. 

5. Chemistry is real. There’s a reason why that person makes you feel a certain type of way. Trust your instincts.

6. Puerto Rican Grandmothers are cute. Let them rock their outfits & flavor in peace. Understand your body and what looks good on you. Everything ain’t for everybody. 

7. Grapefruit is good. Grapefruit is great. Just be careful. Everything is good in moderation. Except crack…don’t do the crack. 

8. If you know your friend lives her whole entire life on the wild side, proceed with caution. You can observe, you can even participate a little, just make sure neither one of you ends up in the hospital or jail as a result of shared shenanigans. Be a friend, not a judge & jury.

9. If you go out together, come back together. Everybody is grown, yes…but, at least make the effort to communicate a plan of action. If she catches a big fish, help her pull it in the boat; then go downstairs to the lobby for early breakfast, or a snack, or something…😏✊🏾

10. Fight fair. Trust that your friend is who she says she is. Nobody is perfect, everybody makes mistakes. The real test in relationships is in the ability to adjust your sails and keep going. 

11. Encourage your friends to be who you know they are, all of the time. Reflect back sincere encouragement and support. If your friends aren’t supporting your vision & dreams, especially where your talent is clearly evident/thriving; then, why are you friends? 

12. It’s all fun and games until somebody starts hallucinating. 

13. Make sure to pack a variety of wigs and shades (disguises) because… the internet. 

14. Girls from FAMU have it all…brains, beauty, hustle, loyalty, style, grace & will blow up the spot if somebody gets it twisted. 

“Girls Trip,” starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, is in theaters now. The film has broken the myth that black females can’t lead a comedy, that a rated “R” comedy can’t exceed box office goals, while proving that Black Girl Magic IS alive and well. Organize an outing with your girlfriends to go see it to support box office receipts. Then, go back by yourself so that you catch anything you may have missed while you and your crew were literally laughing raucously out loud. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film 89% (a high B+ average), Cinema Scope gave it an A+, box office reports that opening weekend garnered over $30 million dollars in ticket sales. Big congratulations to my classmate, Will Packer, for making his mark in Hollywood and may he experience continued success! 

What’s Good? 

Standard
What’s Good? 

Am I, “Good Enough”
By, Ascellia M. Arenas

Have you been paying attention to popular media, music, television, film, and social media? Well, according to what I’ve been seeing and hearing there a lot of negative opinions out here about black women: what makes us good, and what makes us bad. We watch talk shows where black women are dragged for filth as their children’s images are placed on a television monitor and a man screams, “there’s no way I could be that baby’s father, she’s a hoe.” And we laugh…

Women are shamed for having an opinion, embracing and celebrating sexuality, for how we choose to wear our hair, for whatever our bodies look like, and whether or not we are worthy enough to be treated like “Queens.” The music we dance to often refers to women as bitches and hoes. Well dressed beautiful women with ample resources to purchase expensive clothing, luxury items, cars, homes, and other visible trappings of success are fodder for amusement on reality television. Women are frequently placed in hostile situations/environments where they have to show dominance by physically fighting or cursing each other. We are constantly debating about and measuring our worth. We are being informed by unhealthy stereotypes that if unchecked, will seep deeper into the psyche of the next generation of men and women. It has already taken root in more people than we are willing to admit.

There have been many times where I have faced judgment, speculation, been treated unfairly, and treated poorly even by men of my own race. There comes a time when a black woman faces herself in the mirror and asks the question, why am I still not considered to be good enough? I thought I had “Black Girl Magic” pumping through my veins…Ahhh, yes, of course I do, and YES I am good enough, AS IS!
I am a mother of two intelligent, healthy, handsome, male children. I don’t know if I will ever conceive another child, male or female. I often wonder how I would raise a female child. I do have a step-daughter from my previous marriage, I am an educator, I was a cheerleading coach; so, I have been able to mentor and nurture female children in my lifetime. But what if…If I gave birth to a female child, what could I instill in her psyche, from birth, to help her compartmentalize all of the aforementioned stereotypes? How can I help her know the difference between who she knows she is and who people try to tell her she is.  This is important. This is a real thing. My beloved grandmother Eunice used to say, “it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to…”

If I had a female child, at this time in my life, I’d tell her…

1. I love you. Your father loves you. You are beautiful.

2. Your very best effort is all I will accept.

3. You are capable of doing anything you want to do. Just be sure you can live with the consequences.

4. If you get in trouble, if you make a mistake, as long as you are honest and face the repercussions, I will be there for you, and yes…you are grounded.

5. Help people, for free, at first…

6. Popularity is a gift and a curse. The same pedestal they put you on, they will kick you off of. Take what you need and move on. 

7. Don’t drink/eat anything you didn’t make yourself, watch being prepared, or buy. If you go on a date, make sure you call me or your father if you feel the least bit uncomfortable. You aren’t going to date until you go to college, so, there’s that…

8. If you post it, it was seen, by someone, and they saved it, and it will reappear when you least expect it. So, stand up for your own point of view and don’t be ashamed. If you will regret it, don’t post it.

9. Dance…in the rain, on tables, on planes, on trains, in fields, on stage, at parties, at home in your mirror…never let anybody tell you that you are wrong for it, ever. Your body, your rules. If you are rhythmically challenged, you may need some lessons. I got you, thank me later. 

10. If someone decides that they don’t like you, that your hair doesn’t meet their standards, your body doesn’t meet their approval, your skin is too light/dark, your teeth are crooked/gapped/chipped, that your voice sounds funny, that your fingers or toes are too long, short, crooked, fat; that your style/look is too different (with a negative tone), that you need to be different in any way to gain their acceptance, or that you aren’t “good enough,” as is, their loss. Get to steppin…

11. If you want to change anything about your looks because you feel like it, because you know who you are and you want to switch it up a little, and you can afford to pay for it with your own money, cool. I’m down, we can share accessories. 

12. Your brothers are a little weird…In a good way though. I know, trust me, they are good people and will protect you with every bit of strength they have in them. I know because they did the same for me…I’ll tell you about it when you’re 20. 

13. Your legacy is amazing, you family history is remarkable, most people think it’s a bunch of lies but I have receipts. We good, baby girl. Know that.

14. You can be whoever you want to be! Have courage, be fair, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t let anybody make you feel like you can’t have what you want if you don’t. Never ever be afraid to fly.

Yes, 14 is my favorite number …I digress…

My darling, you are a princess because your Mama is a Queen. One day you will wear the crown and share these truths with our next generation.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”- Maya Angelou 

You Good or Nah? 

Standard
You Good or Nah? 

Are You A “Good Black Man” or Nah?

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

It seems that’s the million-dollar question. In the age of “being woke,” increased interest in family involvement, interest in developing community, desire for increased achievement in academia, there is this ideal of what a “good black man” is or should be. How do we define and identify a “good black man?” Well, here are some traits that help us construct an idea about what a “good black man is.”

Community Involvement

A “good black man” understands the important role he plays in the development of our communities. He is present, active, showing leadership with compassion, and is vocal about how he and his community is perceived.

Fame & Popularity

A “good black man” does not have to be famous to be popular. Who he is as an individual is unique and remarkable; hence, worthy of respect. A man who is visible in the community, making a difference, and helping to bring about positive change can have remarkable popularity without necessarily being “famous.” He can be highly regarded, and respected by his family and friends in such a way that he is considered to be dependable and commendable.

 Activism and Ideology

His morals and values are what help to shape him into the “good black man,” he is. Whether he was raised in a traditional family setting, mentored by great men, raised by an incredibly strong single parent  (female or male),  his intrinsic core values are evident and he walks in his purpose to help promote such ideologies. His “woke” walk matches his “woke” talk.  He educates the younger generation, he is a mentor, and his plan is to continually uplift.

Physical Features

Physical attractiveness is not what makes a “good black man” good. How he takes care of his physical form is what makes him a role model for others. We can praise genetics and DNA as the reason why the black male is considered dominant in regard to attractiveness and athleticism : but he does not need to be an athlete, a model, or even a health fanatic to be considered attractive. His physical features are accentuated by good hygiene and proper nutrition. He is aware of what he is ingesting and he also is conscious of what he needs to do to maintain good health.

Education & Intellect

A “good black man” does not necessarily need to have a college education. Although, the number of “good black men” who do pursue higher education are increasing every year. And, we are definitely here for it! He can be and avid reader, he can conduct research on his own regarding his legacy, heritage, and other cultures. He can educate himself through kinesthetic learning; meaning he can learn through action. His instinct to survive is part of what we appreciate about the “good black man,” it is in his nature to comprehend his surroundings and execute what needs to be done in order to sustain his life and the people he holds himself responsible for.

Sexuality and Virility 

A black man’s sexuality is often used as  content for stereotype. The references to his ability to perform and to achieve the ultimate sexually pleasing experiences with anyone whom he comes in contact with is a tall order. Clearly, for the purpose of reproduction, the black man has not disappointed with regard to continuing the race. Sometimes men carry the stereotypes into physical relationships and are disappointed if they do not meet the benchmark of what a virile black man should be able to accomplish. However, a “good black man” is not only driven to be a passionate, seductive, and satisfying sexual partner: he is interested in learning what pleases his partner and creating intimacy that goes beyond the act of sex.

Faith and Religious Practice 

As leader of the community and the household the “good black man” is expected to understand that there is a higher power in our universe. Religion not withstanding, as long as a black man understands that he is the manifestation of a higher power placed here on earth with the purpose of guiding, protecting, leading and supporting his family and his community, he can be considered “a good black man.” For those who are in practice of any form of religion; it is his responsibility to lead his family to their respective place of worship. He leads the prayer. He provides the foundation of faith on which his family is built.

Business Savvy

Who doesn’t appreciate a good BMW? Black man working… A “good black man” understands that it is part of his responsibility to provide for himself first and also for his family as an extension of who he is. He can be an employee or intern that shows up to work on time, properly dressed with a good attitude of providing excellent service, and willing to learn his craft in preparation to lead. He can have a great idea and then put forth the action it takes to make that idea come to fruition. He can make things with his hands, repair things, build things, nurture and care for things. He can design through drawing and  create models of his concepts. He can create technological advances in industry that have yet to be seen. A man who understands that technology is a tool and it is not always an electronic venture has business savvy. A “good black man” sees opportunity and capitalizes on it.

There are so many things that make a man a “good black man,” it cannot be summarized in a quick article. It takes sincere dedication to the observation of him in his element, understanding how he works, understanding what motivates him, and seeing the fruit of his labor to really be able to pinpoint what makes a “good black man” good.  It’s also a matter of opinion, there are some traits of good black men that may not have even been mentioned here. The other question is when we know we are in the midst of “good black men,” how do we treat them? Do we treat them like they are “good black men” or do we fail to recognize them when we see them?

DCA Jazz Ensemble Gets Hometown Love 

Standard

By, Ascellia M. Arenas
 
About Last Night…The nationally renowned DCA Jazz Ensemble of Dillard High School,
Ft.Lauderdale, FL, directed by Mr. Christopher Dorsey was completely phenomenal. The youngsters play as if they were alive during the Harlem Renaissance, absorbed all of the soul of the Big Band Era while demonstrating high levels of music theory, elocution and shimmering melodic tones that would make Duke Ellington proud. The DCA Jazz Ensemble will be performing at the #FIU Jazz Festival this spring. Discover more about the program, future shows, and ways to support the DCA Jazz Ensemble here:
http://www.dillardhs.com/dca-jazz-ensemble 
#bands #bigbandbeat #jazzband #swingmusic #talented #youthgroup #cellibrationpublishing

Writing Like A P.R.O

Standard

Writing Like A “P.R.O”By, Ascellia M. Arenas

I’ve been copy editing and providing consultant services, on a professional level, since I was a college student at FAMU. I started out by editing my classmates work and now I have my own publishing company. I currently provide project management, consultation, and facilitation services for my clients. I have published two books and several articles. I have been an educator for 20 years, taught AP Rhetorical Writing, and I worked for College Board as a teacher/trainer of Argumentative/Rhetorical Writing. 

If you want to be noticed, you need to create written work that is Profound, Outstanding, and Relevant. 

Here are a few tips that I offer my clients that you may benefit from, as well. 

1. Great sentences matter. 

Sentences are like building blocks. You can stack them together to build a monument to your eloquence. Most writers benefit from making their longest sentences into shorter, more effective ones. You need a subject and a predicate, a noun and a verb, a sentence subject and object. Seems simple enough. Right?
2. Paragraphs can only be as good as you make them. 

Good sentences support your ideas. Each idea should be represented in an elaborately written paragraph. Construct complex arguments by combining simple ideas that logically follow one idea. 

Every time you address a new idea, add a line break. Long paragraphs are almost always the most difficult to read. Shorter paragraphs the most readable. Your paragraphs should contain at least three to five sentences. 

3. Edit and revise, then do it again. 

You have heard this since elementary school, but you don’t like to do it because it’s redundant. It’s very necessary. Strike out superfluous words to enhance your writing and highlight your strengths. 

Here are some examples of editing notes: 

Summer months

Regional level

The entire country

On a daily basis (usually best rewritten to “every day”)

She knew that it was good

four-year-old little girl

Improve your sentences by rewriting them using fewer words.

4. Use spell-check. Spell check is your friend. 

There’s no excuse for making common spelling errors anymore. 

Writing that contains spelling errors are frowned upon and not taken seriously. Trust me, I’m an editor.

5. Share your writing sample with someone who can help you improve. 

Peer editing is often more effective than teachers like to admit. Your peers love pulling out their “red pens” to check you. Sharing your work with at least two other people can give you a different perspective and let you know if you are conveying the message you want to share. 

Final thoughts…

Don’t be afraid to read constructive criticism about your writing. Think of it as business, not personal. Pay attention to details and don’t be so hard on yourself. Your writing is as unique as your fingerprints. Your personal style is conveyed through your writing. Do you want to write like a “P.R.O”? 

Good, then take your time and do it right.