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My natural hair care journey

This natural hair care journey is bittersweet, especially when you first start out. Let me explain my sentiments. This is my second time going natural, the first time was five years ago and I abandoned the journey after 2yrs. because of my lack of knowledge on natural hair care . This time around, I didn't do a big chop instead I stopped relaxing my hair after I had my daughter because I was too busy with motherhood, I couldn't get to the hair salon as often as I liked. My hair grew but with the new growth came challenges, I had two different hair textures. My relaxed hair began to break and shred, the more that happened the more frustrated I became. One day, I walked into my bathroom and chopped all my relaxed hair off. It was liberating, I felt free! I literally felt "I am not my hair" as India Arie sang. I knew I was so much more than my hair but I honestly didn't know what to do with my new cut. Where do I begin? I can't show up to work with this untamed fro with no curl pattern just dry looking thick kinky hair. I went back and forth pondering how do I do me? and wear my natural hair in the workplace, I'm a professional woman with responsibilities, will my drastic change of hair style affect the way I'm perceived at my workplace? Yes, I did think like this. Real talk, many women of color have gone through this. You work so hard to be respected as a viable contributor in your profession the last thing you want is a cultural distraction that will take away from your merit earned position. After all this thinking and analyzing I concluded as I stated before, My God given Natural is Beautiful! What I needed were a few steps to assist me along the way in my natural hair care journey.

1. Education- I needed to relearn all I knew about hair care. My hair care knowledge was based on maintaining processed hair. The more informed I became on the natural hair journey in regards to curl pattern, natural hair products, protective styles, and variations on natural hair styles it empowered me. No longer do I have worries on how to wear my natural hair while growing it out. Suddenly my fears quickly diminished. I personally wear protective styles more often than none but definitely allowing time in between for my scalp to breath. Go at your own pace and educate yourself. I'm no natural hair expert but I'm feeling confident doing me and rocking my God given Natural.

2. Don't be afraid to try natural hair products. Thanks to my good friends at Fantasia Hair Care, I've been able to try the Aloe/Vitamin P.M. Night Time Oil Treatment for the past month and it's Fantastic! I spray it on at night and gently massage it on my scalp and entire hair and sleep with a plastic hair cap. It gives my hair that extra shine my hair type needs. In the morning I use Shea Butter Deep Oil Moisturizer w/ Cocoa & Mango Butter after spraying my hair with water. The combination of these two give me the moisture and manageability I need to style my hair. This product leaves my hair smelling divine, it gives me a boost of confidence to know my hair smells fresh. I have to say Fantasia natural hair Care line has impressed me. Make sure you try new hair care products, it's the only way to find out what works for you.

FC hair care products.jpg

3. Find a Natural Hair Salon. Yes, if it hadn't been for the ladies at Hi Texture hair salon in Lawrenceville, Ga I probably would never wear my hair in its natural state and only wear protective styles. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not a natural hair expert just a woman on a natural hair journey experiencing some of the same challenges you may be facing as you go through your own journey. Find people who have been on the journey longer and get tips from them. There are many Vbloggers that show you DIY natural hair styles and it’s great! But never underestimate going to a professional who will trim your hair every 4-6 weeks, deep condition it and show you new styles that compliment your face.

4. Your diet, hey I'm not one who follows the best diet however I have noticed that my increased water consumption has helped my hair growth and moisture. I literally feel my scalp is more hydrated. Don't sleep on water consumption!    

5. Condition! I've learned to use a generous amount of conditioner whether I'm doing a deep treatment that I will rinse out or leave in conditioner. It works wonders to soften my hair, bring out my natural curl pattern and leaves it more manageable.          

 I have no regrets on going natural it’s the best decision I've made for my hair but I still have a lot to learn. Black Latina Negra Bella strives to create a community of Self-Love, Self-Worth and Self-Acceptance, we will begin to expand more on that foundation during our workshops. We are happy to introduce our first one coming up Sunday August 9th, with the professional hair care experts from Hi Texture hair salon who will present to us on the advantages of going natural and how to maintain during your natural hair journey. Mark your calendars for our "Curl Talk Workshop"! Our good friends from Fantasia Hair Care who are celebrating their 50th year will be supplying us with samples of their natural hair care line. This event will be a great opportunity to learn and feel empowered "to do you". 

 

By, Dania Peguero,LMSW

 

           Co-Founder, Vilma Peguero, rocking her fro!

           Co-Founder, Vilma Peguero, rocking her fro!

La Negra Tiene Tumbao! Paying Homage to our fellow colleagues

The Black Latina movement and Afro-Latino experience has gained awareness with the efforts of Entrepreneurs and Naturalista educating Black Latinas on how to embrace their beauty. The millennial generation of Latinos has embraced this effort with such enthusiasm that they have accepted terminology such as Black Latinos and Afro-Latinos to identify themselves.

Black Latinas uniting and supporting one another is a powerful phenomenon. Strength in numbers has always been a catalyst for change. In order for Black Latinas/Afro Latinas to effectuate an expansion of the narrow perceptions of Latinos in main stream media we must echo our missions in order to reinforce our goal to bring awareness!

We want to recognize two trailblazing Black Latinas Entrepanuers who are bringing awareness to the diversity in the Latino community with their own businesses. We interviewed Janel Martinez and Sandy DeAza.

Who is the founder of Ain’t I Latina?

“My name is Janel Martinez and I’m a multimedia journalist. By day I’m a technology journalist reporting on African American and Latino tech entrepreneurs and by night, or in-between time I’m working on content for my site, Ain’t I Latina?  Previously, I served as Technology Editor at Black Enterprise, the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans, where I oversaw the editorial strategy for technology across the company’s platforms. My work and insights have appeared on various media sites including TheGrio, Madame Noire and The Root, as well as Arise News, Cosmopolitan for Latinas and NPR's Latino USA.”

 “I’ve contributed to Latina Magazine, Latina.com, Honeymag.com, Syracuse Record and The Post-Standard, to name a few online and print publications.”

 “I’m a Bronx, NY native. My family is from Honduras---we’re Garifuna.”

 Tell us about your brand?

“My brand is AintILatina.com, an online destination celebrating diversity among millennial Latinas. It’s a site created for Afro-Latinas, by an Afro-Latina. I founded Ain’t I Latina? to fill a void in the representation of Afro-Latinas in both mainstream as well as Spanish-language media. AintILatina.com offers profiles of Afro-Latinas across the globe, celebrity news, career advice, lifestyle coverage and exclusive interviews.”

 How can people find you?

 “You can follow my daily musings on Twitter at @janelmwrites. But, more importantly, you can find Ain’t I Latina? on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the site, AintILatina.com. “

 What is it about Black Latina Negra Bella that you support?

“As a young woman who identifies as Afro-Latina, a Black Latina, Blatina and the like, I’m invested in celebrating, highlighting and uplifting my fellow Afro-Latinas, or however you choose to identify. Black Latina Negra Bella was created to empower Latinas from diverse backgrounds, namely Black Latinas, and as the founder of Ain’t I Latina?, which was developed for similar purposes, I feel that the work BLNB is doing is extremely important for our generation and, most importantly, the generations after us.  I’m a supporter of Black Latina Negra Bella."

 Sandy DeAza

 

Who is the Founder behind The Prov Experience? "My name is Sandy DeAza and I’m a trained culinary chief. I attended Johnson and Wales University a leading University in the culinary industry. Since then I have been building my resume by working my way up the culinary world, Today I am a Chef San. I can summarize who I am in Five words... Passionate, Giving, Caring, Loyal, and Hardworking."

 Tell us about your business The Prov Experience? "The Prov Experience is a Private Chef Services company. My mission as the Chef is to create fusion cuisine combining widely differing ethnic ingredients and styles of cooking, with the outcome being...delectable dishes that inspire your taste buds! Our mission is to help you create great atmosphere, and those special moments you will always remember by taking care of the cuisine."

 How can people contact you? "You can visit out website www.TheProvExperience.com / Facebook: The Prov Experience / and Instagram @Chef_San or @The_Prov_Experience."

 What is it about Black Latina Negra Bella that you support? "I absolutely LOVE and I am so proud to be part of this movement that is taking the stance of educating our Latinos and other cultures of our Afro-Latino heritage and how multifaceted we all are! We are NOT one dimensional, we are beautiful and diverse." 

By, Dania Peguero, LMSW, EdS.

 

Janel Martinez

What happened to Common Courtesy? Yo Soy Latina Tambien!

I was accompanied by my sister-in-law and one of my best friends to a Latin music event, in attendance was an International mix of people. It was beautiful to see so many diverse people come together to celebrate one common interest. The love, joy, appreciation for Latin music and its culture filled the air and created a lovely ambiance.  As we were setting up our booth for social interaction with the attendees, we were asked “where we were from?” We answered, from “the Dominican Republic”. The person asking the question was a Latino male, who was of fair skin complexion. He responded, “ok, I figured that you both were (my sister-in-law and best friend) and proceeded to say “you two look Dominican but he said “I didn’t look Dominican at all.”  He then began to speak in Spanish as if I was not able to understand. I graciously answered him in Spanish with my Dominican accent and said yes, I was from the Dominican Republic and thanked him for the compliment that he had paid our country and people. He furthered said “he was surprised to find out that I was Latina.”

He might have been surprised but unfortunately I was not.  I’m not surprised I get this all the time. It doesn’t bother me unless the individual has a disappointed reaction. When I say disappointed I mean when it is conveyed through their amazed bugged out eyes with an open-mouth utter shock! Now that’s annoying! Yes, we all look different but no one wants to feel like a science project or feel ostracized. I don’t expect for all individuals that I meet or run into to know everything about me however I do expect a certain amount of common courtesy that usually is learned as we are young children. Have you not ever been taught by your mother or guardian, that if you see something or learn something that is different or shocking to you be careful how you respond because you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable due to your lack of awareness, others may call it plain “Ignorance”.  I have had this discussion before with people and I am always asked, if I have become too sensitive? Or could I be overacting because I have a complex?

My response, “No”, I’m not extra sensitive or have a complex but I unfortunately I have had many different experiences where people have attempted to ostracize me. For instance, the experience I mentioned earlier at the Latin festival. The individual who was curious about our background and probably because he was questioning in his mind whether we belonged there or not attempted to exclud me by speaking Spanish. When I answered him in Spanish his unforeseen look was priceless. He had nothing to say but accept what was going on. This experience is only one of many that I have had in my many blessed years of life.

My challenge to you all particularly parents are you making a conscious effort to teach your children or others common courtesy? Awareness about differences? Making sure your children are having a real world view experience? (I don’t mean inviting your black friend from work home for dinner). Black Latina Negra Bella is dedicated to making Black Latinas included and celebrated along with all other Latinas. How do we begin to do this in our community if we are not having the conversation at home? We have to make an effort to consciously learn all of our history as well as practice and extend common courtesy to all people. You can’t be selective on who you extend courtesy too based on race, ethnicity or religion. Remember if you know your history and understand it you will realize that any other conduct is one associated with inferiority rather than superiority. Know your history!  

By, Dania Peguero, LMSW, EdS.

Black Latino vs. Afro-Latino, What's the difference?

 

Since the launch of Black Latina Negra Bella family and friends both have questioned, opinioned, and criticized this movement. "We are Afro-Latinos not Black Latinos" (criticism), "The reason people might mistake you for being African-American is because you speak Spanish with an American accent (opinion), "What about us who don't consider ourselves Black-Latinos, you are leaving us out? (question).  Let me start by saying that in the United States of America we are categorized by race. On most applications that collect demographic information you are given four to five options under race. For many years, I have been confused as to what to mark , it wasn't until I was educated in college by taking African- American courses that I was informed through history books and research that I in fact was part of the Black race. I couldn't claim the white race with my particular family make-up. Never mind that by looking at me society would reject that claim anyway. 

               

 The Black Latina reference is acknowledging that we are part of the Black race. We also acknowledge that we are Afro-Latinos, we are aware of our African lineage. I particular don't have a preference to being identified as an Afro-Latina or Black Latina. Either one still accurately reflects who I am. As I said before, I am Dominican and proud to be Dominican and very much embrace my culture and adamant about passing on that tradition to my daughter. She has traveled to the Island, understands and speaks the Spanish language, our culture influences our daily life (whether people believe or not) and  we eat our traditional meals daily.

 

My question, Is there anything wrong with  being part of the black race if you are Latino? Like I mentioned, it accurately reflects our truth! What is your opinion or truth? Why do we make such a big deal about it? The basic essence of this movement is to respect, love and to embrace all people. We want to walk side by side as an united group. Stay true to yourself but denying your roots would be false. 

I would love to hear from you. 

By, Dania Peguero, LMSW, EdS. 

She Runs It

Check out our Co-founder Dania Peguero's interview with She Runs It at www.sherunsit.net

Here is a preview ...

What inspired you to create Black Latina Negra Bella?
I’m a mother of a two-year-old toddler, and one day, while looking at my daughter and admiring her beauty, I was wondering if she would have to experience some of the challenges I had, too, as a Black Latina in regards to having to explain the complexity of her Latino claim when she doesn’t resemble the media’s perception of a Latina. I want to make it easier by educating as many people as I can about the diversity that exists within the Latino community. This is when Black Latin Negra Bella came to be what it is today, a campaign/movement where we can empower Black Latinas to be who they are and celebrate the diversity among all Latinas.

 

 

Can I just be me?

    A friend of mine asked me “Why are you referring to yourself as a Black Latina when you are not Black?”  

    Well when I look in the mirror I see a girl with brown complexion:  although I completely understand what he is referring to. He is referring to my cultural background, my language, the foods that I eat and the music I listen too. He is right to an extent. I'm Dominican and additionally I am proud to be an Afro-Dominicana. 

 

    My response to him is that my whole life I've been referred to as "La Morena or La Negra" .  In the Dominican culture these phrases are used as words of endearment and I have embraced it as such. So why can't I translate the meaning to English? I am a Black Latina una Negra Bella. I am still Dominican Dania who cooks my Dominican meals all the time and listens to my salsa and merengue music. Just because I have embraced my obvious African lineage it does not mean I have changed as a person.  Can I Just Be Me?