Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Box Office or Bootleg

I often hear people say Chris Rock is a master in stand up comedy but when it comes to his movies they'll pass. I personally like Chris Rock's films. Come on, Pootie Tang wasn't that bad. Sa da tay on da tippee tow? Anyway, Rock's documentary Good Hair is a must see. I give it 5 human hair tracks. In case you don't know the story, Rock's daughter inspired him to research black hair when his daughter asked him why she doesn't have "good hair." Just the words make my stomach twist. Good Hair. "Good hair" in the black community is the long, wavy, straight hair that you can swing and shake. You know, non-water resistant locks you can come through easily when wet. "Good hair" is a no-kink zone.

Rock takes his film crew to beauty salons, hair shows, even India. That's where 100% Indian hair comes from. And he journeys to a science lab to show how damaging chemicals in hair relaxers (hair straightening creams) can be to the skin and lungs over time. I was shocked when I learned some mother's relax their daughters hair as early as 3 years old. The film is funny, educational but a bit sad. Sistas, we spend billions of dollars on our hair and other's people hair we sew into our hair. But the black community reaps little of it. Most hair production companies are run by Koreans. They run the full mane of the billion dollar black hair biz and we only get a few clipped ends. See Aron Ranen's documentary for more. But this is an issue of beauty and being accepted in the mainstream culture. And what's considered beautiful: the closer to white, the more it's right. Think about it. How many black women with a natural or locs report the news on TV? At the moment the only person I can think of is Michele Martin, formally of ABC News now on NPR. How many black women with braids, aside from the singer Brandy, made it big in Hollywood? Have you ever seen a lawyer or woman in corporate America with locs, braids or a 'fro? No, because she won't be taken seriously so she has to assimilate her beauty to climb to the top

On the flip side the great thing about black hair is it's versatility. We can rock straightened hair, weaves, braids, locs, twists, wigs etc. I think women should wear their hair however they feel. But, why is Tasha, who makes $8/hr at Best Buy paying hundreds up to $1K for a weave?

A couple of things were missing in film. Where was Malaak Compton-Rock, Chris' wife? She wears hair pieces. I want to know her opinion about the subject and what she's teaching her daughters about black beauty and hair. The film lacked in telling the experiences of sistas who wear their natural hair. India Arie, Whoopi Goldberg, Kim Fields, Meshell Ingeocellio would've been great.

As for me, I straighten my hair with a pressing comb. For my non-black readers, it's a metal comb you heat and carefully comb through the hair. I've had a weave before and didn't spend nearly as much as some women. At the time I was full-time news producer so $200, including hair, didn't hurt me. Plus I kept it in for about 2-3 months. I tried the weave just for the heck of it. I don't like relaxers because they do burn and like Rock shows in the film, those relaxers should be a health care. I don't know what they're putting in that sh*t so I'll just stick to heat.

And contrary to what some said in the film about black women not allowing men to touch their hair, that's true for SOME. I don't care. If my man wants to run his fingers through my head, it's cool. That's what a brush is for.

Don't give your money to the bootlegger at your local hair salon. Good Hair is worth going to the theater. And speaking of hair....

Cocoa Fly Hair Journey

Here I am unbeWEAVEable. The process took about 4 hours and $200 bucks TOTAL. That's including hair. You don't have to spend $1,000 on your hair to look good. That $1,000 some of you are spending on your weave could be used to pay for your kid to go private school or a 401K or a down payment on a house.

Look at me rocking the cornrows with extensions. One of my sorority sisters braided my hair. It cost me $40 and about 3 hours of sitting. Time flies when you're gossiping and watching Oprah while getting your hair braided. Doesn't that mojito look good?

I'll always be a press, curl and flat iron girl. Two hours, once a month $50. Normally sistas go every 2 weeks to "get their hair did." I go every 3 weeks because of the recession.