What’s In A Name?

Who's Your Daddy?

Who’s Your Daddy?

What’s in a name?

A whole lot if you ask me.  Or maybe, not a lot is more accurate of an assessment. I had a conversation today with someone who is a self-professed feminist. She is highly intelligent, ivy league educated, raised in an affluent neighborhood by well off parents. She and I have had many conversations that I’ve leaned into only to decide to lean OUT of 10 minutes in. Today was no different. This is how it went :

Her: Did you hear Kim & Kanye had their baby?

Me: Yep and I read somewhere today that they named her Kaitlyn Donda West.

Her: She gave the baby his name?!

Me:  Uh yes, he is her father.

Her: And? Kim has a name.

Me: (with a dumfounded face) But you do know she didn’t make the baby alone right? Oh is this because they aren’t married? Because I know they plan to get married so may as well.

Her: N o it has nothing to do with that. Kim has her own name so her baby should have her name. My kids will have my name.

Me: Well that’s no surprise since you got married last month and didn’t take your husband’s name, not even for the “I now present you Mr. & Mrs. part.

I knew I needed to stop there. But I didn’t.  I proceeded to combine my love for the bible with my Game of Thrones obsession and said “You are supposed to leave one house and cling to the other once you get married.” You know what they say. Even the devil can quote scriptures.  OK so I’m not a biblical scholar (as clearly the scripture says “cleave”)  but my point was, you got married and you want to have no association with your husband. Even if I can get with that, meaning you don’t want to take your husband’s name, you also don’t want your child to have his name either??  Everyone is welcome to their opinion and by all means do what works for you. I know from reading her blogs and being in close quarters with her that she believes a woman loses all identity by giving up her name and that it is an antiquated patriarchal practice that she grew weary of watching her own mother marry, divorce, and remarry.  And luckily she found a man who was okay with that. Lord knows I don’t have one and my father is clear that he cares nothing about me keeping his name because the man who marries me will have to PAY for me for the rest of my life so he deserves to give me his.

But it opened up a whole school of thought about last names and more importantly, the naming of children born out of wedlock.  In the few hours since this conversation, I’ve interviewed several of my closest friends. Some replied the child should always get the father’s name, regardless of the parents’ relationship status. Others said it depended on where the relationship was going. One friend, who had a child while still in high school, told me she knew when she was pregnant what kind of man her child’s father was. He had even suggested she get an abortion. So she knew that child would have a labored (no pun intended) relationship with her father (which 16 years later, she does) so she did not give her his last name. In Kim Kardashian’s case, she is finally divorced (as of June 4th), and planning to marry her child’s father. So if she wants to give her his name, who really cares? I could be flip and say if Kanye is buying diapers the baby should have his name. But it’s not really about that. I guess my frustration came from the idea that Kim K, or any woman at all, ceases to be who she was because she takes on her husband’s name or gives her child her husband’s name.  The person I had the conversation with was clear that her children would have HER name or perhaps some hyphenated version of she and her husband’s name. And to that I replied well I think children with hyphenated names are inherently confused.  I should’ve stopped talking. I was speaking out of emotion. I was being flip. But I was honest.

If I can disappear into the series of letters that become my surname then did I really exist before I pledged to join my life to another?  It is my belief that once I am married, I have pledged to another to be MORE of myself by growing, refining, polishing, becoming a better me. And he will inherently do the same.  Becoming a  better, stronger, more refined version of himself.  There is no loss in losing a name or adding another’s name to yours. And there is certainly no loss in bestowing it upon a child of that union or relationship.


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Justice Delayed

Well, the verdict is in. Or shall we say NO verdict is in. The jury in Jodi Arias case decided today after 13 hours of deliberations that THEY could not decide whether or not she gets life or death.  According to Arizona law, the jury had to come to a unanimous decision on LIFE or DEATH.  And if they could not do that, they got to go home and make it someone else’s problem.  See, the rule is if there is no unanimous verdict, that jury would be excused, a NEW jury would be impaneled, and the penalty phase would begin again. All those pictures would be shown again. All the lies would be told again.  All the tears will flow again.  Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, I think we all believe that families in pain should be given closure.  A wound that was on its way to be healed, has just been ripped open. Again. Justice isn’t always doled out in the way we think it should be. And although often promised to be, rarely is it swift.

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I’ll Always Love My Mama, She’s My Favorite Girl


Dear Mommy:

Being a writer (if that’s what I call myself) allows me a certain creative freedom that I don’t often know what to do with. But what good is being a writer, if I can’t share my thoughts about something with someone other than my two biggest fans ( you and Daddy). And so I decided to share this short note not just with you, but with the world. Hope you don’t mind.

Mother’s Day is a special day but not because Hallmark says so. It’s because it’s the one day of the year that everyone else recognizes what I know everyday. That mother’s don’t just give life, they make, create and mold life. And everyday, every year I grow older, I realize how much of me was molded, created, and made by you.  Nowadays I catch myself staring at a picture of myself, with my hair pulled back, and do a double take. Because after 33 years of being told “you look just like your daddy”, I now see this face as a mirror of yours. And I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and pride that now, I look like my mama.  Not every little girl gets to grow up, never wanting for anything, never knowing what it meant to be “without”, never wondering if she was loved. You gave me life and then you gave me love. Love that I can only dream and pray to replicate in my own children. When others struggle and say they can’t ask their parents for help, I find it incomprehensible because I always know where to get my help. First Jesus, and then my mama.  It’s not everyone’s reality. But it is mine.  Many people wait for funerals to tell how much they love someone. You’ve always lived by the motto “Give me my flowers now, while I am here to smell them.” So today, I give you these words, as flowers, so that you know and never doubt that you are the best thing that ever happened to me.  God broke the mold when he made my mama. I can only hope he puts it back together to create me as a mother into your image. So for all the times I had dance, theatre and piano in the same day, I say thank you.  For all the random credit charges from stores at Lenox Mall my freshman year, I say thank you.  For all my secrets you kept from Daddy (lest he have a heart attack), I say THANK YOU.  For teaching me how to nurture and care for those I love dearly, I say thank you. Thank you for praying that God would give me to you. Because I thank Him everyday that he gave you to me.

Happy Mother’s Day.


La’Keitha Jonise


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After 2 1/2 days of deliberation, the jury in the Jodi Arias murder trial finally has a verdict, to be read in about 90 minutes.  My prediction:

I think that we wanted to think that the jury wanted manslaughter as a more “comfortable” option. The 2.5 days it took them to deliberate could mean ANYTHING. I’m not a betting woman. And the Casey Anthony jury made us all out to be fools. But I am going to guess………..that they got it right. 1st Degree Murder.

90 minutes to see if I’m wrong……*please sweet baby Jesus get it right*

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Boston Bomber Criminal Complaint


If you were wondering what Dzokhar Tsarnaev was charged with and more details of the investigation, don’t let the media tell you, read it for yourself. Verrrrry interesting.


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The Bourgeois Black Girl’s Guide to Wearing a “Natural”: The Finale

A week has gone by and I haven’t died. I haven’t called my stylist for an emergency appointment.   I haven’t straightened my hair. It has however, been the longest 7 days of my life.

Day 7: Am I wrong for humming “Started from the bottom now we’re here…” while untwisting my hair this morning. Last night I cut my twisting time from 35 minutes to 20 minutes.  That is change we can believe in.  And untwisting this morning only took 15 minutes! I’m a pro. Experiment OVER. Back to work and today no one speaks a word. My boss, a white man, who has been on vacation comes back tanned. I say “Look who got some sun!” His reply, “Oh looks like you did too!” Huh? I certainly have not. That’s the best he can do when he sees my new hair. He thinks I look blacker. O_o

End of the week and the last day.

End of the week and the last day.

Well I had 2 more days to wear this hair this way because I didn’t have a hair appointment until Wednesday. And although I didn’t detail my notes, I can update you by saying on that last day I looked a WRECK.  I was mentally back to day 1 where I was nearly in tears. But what saved me? I let go of the need for perfection….because I had no choice. I was Curly Sue in the front and Homeless Harry in the back. And no amount of tucking, fluffing, or picking would help.  So I tried all I could and then left the mirror, and the house, and eventually slinked into my cube and prayed that my day would fly by until I could go to the salon. But the point is, I made it out. I bit the bullet. I had achieved, even a minimal, IDGAF. And that was enough progress for me.

When I started this project, I didn’t intend for it to unearth my opinions or insecurities about hair. I already knew what those were.  I didn’t intend for my writing about it to win me any friends in the “natural” hair community or get me a free membership to the Natural Hair Mafia.  I did intend however, to prove to myself that if I wanted to or needed to wear my hair in its un-pressed state that I could. And that I could still be cute while doing so. And that I accomplished.

I have learned that wearing my hair un-pressed isn’t for me. That was my hypothesis. And in the true form of the scientific method, my conclusion is the same.  I am a hair snob. I need my hair to be tame and perfectly coiffed (or close to it). I also like my hair to blow in the wind. And with all the curls and product and fluffed roots, I couldn’t catch a gust of wind if He who can speak to the wind and the waves whistled on my head himself.  Judge me. I like resting my head on the headboard or my car headrest without worrying that my hair will be flattened.  I also suffer from the childhood disease of “Rapunzel-itis”. You know when you put a towel on your head down your back to pretend it was your hair, and you swung it from side to side and tossed it over your shoulder? Well, I still do that. I pledged Delta 15 years ago, my line name is “White Girl”, and well, do with that what you will. Whatever. I am who I am. And I love it.

I also learned that I value my time way too much to spend it on hair. I’m not spending my Sunday as “wash day” for the week. And I don’t want to make a habit of spending an extra 30 minutes in the morning and at night trying to maintain this lifestyle.  Every once in a while or a few days before a salon visit in the summer, I will rock it! But I don’t have an extra 7-10 hours per week to devote to this. I am a sleep-until-the-last-minute kind of girl. I want to jump up, comb my hair in 4-8 minutes and be done. So the time commitment involved is a deterrent and I can own that. I can easily pay $60/week to get my hair done and make every one happy.

So now I know I CAN wear these styles and look good doing it. And I will do it again! I believe that hair is an accessory. I should be able to press it, curl it, wet it, weave it, and love it all. I should be able to change it like I change my silver earrings, high-heeled shoes, or Gucci handbag.  And I should not be judged for my choice du jour.  So if you are a card-carrying member of the NHM, heed the warning “STEP OFF”, before a band of misfits pressed girls rise up against you.  And love each woman for what she wears in her heart and not what she wears in or on her head.

Back to Black.

Back to Black.

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This Bourgeois Black Girl’s Guide to Wearing a “Natural”: Part 3

So day 4 was upon me and I was beginning to look a wreck. That pineapple was cool and all but my curls had transformed into thick chunky pieces that had turned me from homeless chic to sideshow Bob. So since it is my official day off (spring break) I’ll try this Wash & Go. Because that is really the reason I want to wear my hair curly. So I can just wet it and go. I figure, I’m from Florida. I have to have SOME kind of Indian in my family that will make my hair curl up right? Because I think at its core, for other bourgeois black girls like me, we like the idea of wearing our hair “natural” because we want it to be easy and convenient. But what folks don’t tell us is that unless you have enough diversity in your genes to make that H20 magically transform your tresses into spiral bits of wonder, it takes work. It’s not as easy as it seems. And in fact, it may be unachievable! The beauty I found though is in figuring it out! I learned that I have 3-4 different textures in my head. No I didn’t look it up to see if I was a 3B, 4C or an XYZ. Because THAT is work. And I don’t want to do work.

Day 4: I’ve never strategically attempted the wash and go. Usually just tried the wet it, put some Kinky Curly in it with my hands and then scrunch. Because that’s what my sister Kisha told me to do when I asked her for a miniature sized gladware container of her product. And it made her hair curly so it should do mine too. WRONG. So this time I had a plan. Thought if I got in the shower and washed straight from the Sideshow Bob madness my hair would mat. So I spent the last half hour of Wendy Williams Show combing out my hair to detangle it. Washed. I will not get out to look at my curls. I will not get out to look at my curls. Condition. Back section of hair sure is lathering more than the top. Guess this Pantene really works chile! I watch my hand in slow motion reach for the Conditioner bottle again only to notice that I have been using shampoo to condition and detangle my hair. EPIC FAIL. Start over. Condition. Detangle. Rinse. Now the Kinky Curly jar says for people with loose wavy curls, slightly towel dry and put product in and scrunch. For tight coiled curls, keep hair dripping wet and comb product through each section to allow curls to spring. WELL THAT WAS THE PROBLEM.  Kisha had me acting like my curls were loose and wavy. NOT. This is what I get for asking for product in a Tupperware container. So I get out, soak the bathroom rug with water dripping from my saturated head and proceed to comb the product into my hair. I already know the pieces in the front are the straightest so I do them first. Hmmm…..not a curl in sight…..and I’m staring…HARD. Let me twist because I can’t look a fool. Twist the front into 3 plats. Ok now lets use this scrub brush and make these curls pop! Back row of head, super curls! YES this is gonna be great! 3rd row….these curls….look like my daddy’s afro. Soft. Tight. Daddy naps. Well no stopping now. 2nd row. OK these are kind of Shirley Temple-ish. But they are lying on top of these Daddy naps! Grrr.  Top of my head. Well….maybe when it dries it will look like something. By the time I’m done, my twist in the front are set and pretty dry. How long have I been here?! I look at the clock after I get dressed and take my twists out. A WASH AND GO?! That’s a damn lie. I washed at 10:30 and didn’t GO until NOON! And after all that, I really had nowhere to go. So I drove to Atlantic Station, down Peachtree aimlessly, then walked around Publix. Sigh.

Wash and Not-so-Go

Wash & Not-so-Go

Wash & Not-so-Go

Nightfall. Time to call in reinforcements. Royce is coming to flat twist my hair. Royce is my “natural” hair idol and on the Hair 911 Team for me.  She comes and co-washes me. Who comes up with these words? Co-wash. Conditioner wash as opposed to shampoo wash. Eh. She twists me up. All the while I banish the boyfriend from that part of the house (as I have usurped our Date Night for this mess), because he still cannot see me in this vulnerable state. Sitting in on the floor on a pillow in between Royce’s legs like I’m 6 years old. 3 hours later (included gab/eat/Beyonce documentary viewing time) I’m done and off to bed. Again praying for morning hair. Jesus has heard a lot from me this week.

Snoop Dogg's Younger Sister

Snoop Dogg’s Younger Sister

Day 5: Last time I tried to flat twist, I couldn’t wear it without a scarf. I was nervous. I wasn’t ready. Today I went in with confidence. Untwisted and BAM! Wet at the top. Oh I’ll just put this blow dryer on these damp twist and it will fix it. NOPE. Cute from the front, CRAZY in the back (top). Can I just cut the center out of my hair. It is the problem child here!  Stop and put your clothes on. Beat your face. WHERE ARE YOUR BIG EARRINGS?! Just press on. Get your IDGAF on. Chin up. Whip hair back and forth. Done. Whew!


 Night comes much quicker with “natural” hair. I have NO clue how to recreate this. Text Royce. No answer. YouTube. Is this GERMAN? I can’t flat twist. What am I going to do?! Panic ensues. Too cute today to fail now. I mist my hair to make damp and do the only thing I know how. 2 strand twist and pray. And now these rollers that Royce made me buy…..ugh. Off all the things I hate about life, hair rollers are at the top of the list.


Day 6: HALLELUJAH! How appropriate it’s a Sunday. My plan to save the hair worked! And now I’m a hair genius because it only took 15 minutes to untwist and go! Curl cream shout! (Isn’t that something a naturalista would say?) Went to church, felt like I got extra smiles from the other “natural” girls. More people looked me in the eye than any Sunday before. Or maybe I just noticed them more. It’s like I fit in. Or at least to them I do. Hmph. Wave. Smile. Give holy hug. And I’m out. Because next week you may call me a fraud. Because 6 days in, Iz tied (translation: I am tired).


 TBBG Lessons from Days 4,5,6:

1)  Everyone can’t wear a Wash & Go! Black women are so diverse. We have lots of culture and ethnicity running through our blood and hair strands. But not all of them have the ability to wear those curly or cute afro’d looks! So if that’s what you want, I think its best you cut it all off. Get your TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro)(natural lingo) and go from there and figure out what happens and how to keep it at a length where it does what you want it to. But don’t think that water and product is going to make miracle swirls on your head. It won’t.

2)  Make your friends read you the instructions on every scrap of product you “borrow” from them. Borrowing from friends who have tried different products is great because it saves you money and heartache from those that won’t or don’t work for you. If your friend is as good as mine, she will give you enough to try many times so you can get it right. I just threw that gladware container out yesterday. I’ve had it 3 years. Yes that’s too  long.

3)  A week is a long time to do this. Perhaps if you would like to follow suit, try a 5 day challenge.

See how it all ends in the final installment of this series! Thanks for all of the feedback so far.


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