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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Natural Hair

Hair

Once upon a time, there was a baby naturalista who used to sit in front of the mirror every night, with her arms held high for over 45 minutes, trying to complete the perfect twist out.

As she huffed and puffed, she wished for a fairy godmother who could end her misery and just grant her poppin' curls at the flick of a wand. But, this naturalista eventually came to her senses and realized: ain't nobody got time for that.

Like many ladies, my time is precious. In a perfect world, I could spend 30-45 minutes every night crafting the perfect twist out, but it just doesn't work that way. Dinner needs to be cooked. Errands need to be run. Assignments need to be completed. In my opinion, one of the hardest parts about the transitioning process is the "orientation period" when you become oriented with your new hair texture, learning which products work best for you and simply building your artillery of no-fail hairstyles. It's not glamorous, and quite frankly, it can be very time consuming and demoralizing.

Related: The Truth About Transitioning from Relaxed to Natural

Despite the highs and lows of the "orientation period", there are ways to make your life a lot easier and still achieve your desired look. While there are nuances for every curl pattern, here is the lazy girl's guide to natural hair, 5 ways to save your precious time and energy:

Condition

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Our hair needs a lot more moisture than our non-curly counterparts, and failure to keep our hair conditioned paves the road to breakage. When I had a relaxer, I'd probably dabble a few drops of hair oil on my scalp once a week and was good to go. If anything, I tried to limit usage of any oils or sheens that would make my relaxed hair look too weighed down. Now natural, I was shocked how much more I need to condition my hair, both in quantity and frequency, in order to achieve the shine and bounce needed for my hair to be healthy and malleable. I find styling 100% easier when my hair is well-conditioned (and a little damp). A lot of the frizziness and tangling I was encountering earlier in my transition process was the result of too little moisture, so now I am religious about leave-in conditioners and deep conditioning.

Tip: Invest in finding your go-to leave in conditioner. For the days I'm in a hurry, my personal favorite is, It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner, and the spray nozzle makes conditioning even faster.

My hair post-shower with only leave-in conditioner and no curling products.

Detangle in the Shower

Showers are a whole production in my household. Shaving and face masks aside, I have a whole detangling playlist created for my wash-days. The steam from the shower helps loosen your curls and open the pores in your scalp, allowing for products to be better absorbed. I typically part my hair into 4 sections with clips and then condition and detangle each section – the whole process complete by the time I'm done singing "Neighbors Know My Name" and "Rocket". Those extra 8-10 minutes in the shower save me an additional 20+ minutes while styling, especially if I'm doing a braid or twist out.

Tip: Detangle the ends of your hair first before working your way up to the roots. And, be gentle on your ends to avoid tearing or excess breakage.

KYP: Know Your Products!

This right here is the deal-breaker. My hair with and without products looks like two totally different curl patterns – two totally different people! Finding the products that work best for your hair takes time and it's important not to call off your entire natural hair journey because one product line doesn't work for you. I personally had a terrible experience using Cantu products and was convinced that the whole natural hair movement was a conspiracy created by beauty corporations to drain my bank account. Then, I found Shea Moisture, which went on to be my holy grail for the next year before I transitioned to As I Am products. The point is: products matter. Not only is styling easier with the right products, but they should help increase your overall hair health – which may even result in you "growing out of" and moving onto new products.

Tip: Watch YouTube videos with ladies who have similar textures to your curl pattern and then try the products that worked for them. Also, purchase "tester" hair products in smaller volumes, so you don't end up stuck with large quantities of a failed product.

My hair after a twist-out and using As I Am curling products and Eco Styler gel. Note: my hair gets 50% fuller after it dries.

Recycle Your Twist-Out

In the now *rare* occasions that I do complete a full twist-out, I will only twist and add products one time before "refreshing" it. This means, I will wear my hair down curly the first day and then continuously tie it up at night in a way that will let me repurpose my original effort without having to continuously restyle. At night, I will flip all of my hair up into a "pineapple" and then let my hair back down the next day. It's as easy as it sounds, and "refreshing" the next morning takes me 5 minutes tops. Usually, all of my curls are preserved from the night before allowing me to stretch my original twist out another 2-3 days before transitioning to buns and ponytails.

Tip: Do a really good twist out on the first day and use ample products to ensure that your curls stay defined later in the week.

When in Doubt, BUN or POOF!

I wear my natural hair in a bun so often that my coworkers are star-gazed when I actually wear my hair down for a change. Up or down, slicked or messy, buns make the world go round. Every natural girl will eventually find her no-fail hairstyle and it will become her security blanket. I love that I can slick my hair into a high bun in 60 seconds, tie my edges down for 5-10 minutes, and be out the door in seconds. More often than not, I'll style my bun or ponytail at night and just tie it down with a scarf and sleep in it. The next morning, there really isn't anything for me to do beyond getting dressed for work. It's quick, classy, and relatively effortless. For some, a poof functions the same way.

My favorite natural hairstyle: a slicked bun

Tip: Find your quick style. Own it, live it, love it.

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Featured image by Lydia Anglin

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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