Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Smells Like Mean Spirit(-edness)

My apologies, Dear Readers, for my corny Carrie Bradshaw-like habit of titling my blog entries like that. I just can't help it. Believe me, one of my favorite songs of the 90's is Nirvana's angsty "Smells Like Teen Spirit." So I guess that's why when I caught a mega backlash for chopping my hair and going natural, my mind flashed back to cruel schoolyard taunts and, yes, Nirvana. At 28, I suddenly felt 13. Powerless, sensitive and hurt. Only my attackers weren't fellow middle schoolers but grown-behind folks who should know better. But they didn't. And it stunk. Far worse than any quick-fading, cheap, fruity-smelling deodorant ever could. 

"...Here we are now, entertain us..."

Last year this time, the... I'll call them... "Mean Kids", were after me about gaining weight.After I stopped taking Lyrica, I dropped the extra 10 pounds.But they've found something new to obsess on. My hair. This year, inspired by a horrific viewing of Chris Rock's "Good Hair", writing about Natural Girls, and being counseled by my doctor to stop using chemicals, I kicked the creamy crack habit. I did it gradually, choosing to just stop getting relaxers and stay away from heat. At first things were alright. Somewhat. But after I cut my hair in July, the chattering began in earnest. Why did I chop it? Why a bob? What did it all mean??? I felt like I was once again cast in the role of poor Jessica Simpson (who I don't really consider "poor" at all), this time being ripped apart for a bad Ken Paves hair piece.

Okay, I'll admit it- I did cut off quite a bit of hair. But transitioning is not easy, and it's especially hard with more length. Besides, I like my sassy bob. :-)

I had inadvertently stumbled afoul of Black People Hair Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Cut Thy Hair. Very few females are exempt from this rule, such as Halle, Nia and Rihanna. And you'll notice my name is Alisha. So when the "Mean Kids" began to taunt, I cracked. Now, if I had any common sense, I would've listened when my friend Angel said "Tell them to go kick rocks." Well, I didn't. I wrote that on my Twitter and on Facebook, but aside from social networks, I allowed the taunts to get to me.

The taunts turned into all out insults once I washed my hair and it's true kinkiness was revealed. I'm not going to post anymore pics of myself since I don't want this blog to detour into a "Hair Story". I'll get around to talking more about this whole experience another time. Besides, you can just look at my "About Me" pic to see my now bushy head. 

 "Oh, no, I know a dirty word..."

Anyway, after being threatened with a "you need to get a hot comb taken to THAT", "THAT" of course being the beast formerly known as my hair, I went home in tears. The insults culminated with the beast being called "n***er hair". Yes, the "n" word, and not "nappy". Nappy, I'm cool with. But the "n" word? I was (and still am) aghast that the first time I personally got hit with that word, it would be thrown out by another Black person, a highly educated one at that. A co-worker. With kids. 

"...I feel stupid and  contagious..."

I KNOW I'm not a n***er. I also know it was that incident that finally made me stop and really ponder. I know about "b****es". I've slid into that role. But this was different. Where a b**** just strikes out, this was a lingering nastiness. It was spiritually draining. Dark. Festering. Day in and day out ugliness shabbily disguised as cheap jokes. My hurt, shock and sadness put on display for entertainment. My tears, their laughter. 

Such ugliness produces the most repulsive of odors. It doesn't just linger, it seems to absorb itself into all subjected to it. Kind of like the rancid "B.O." on that old "Seinfeld" episode. A fake smile don't cover the funk of that soul. And this has nothing to do with James Brown, who exemplified great Funk in his Soul.

Fearing the stench would overtake me, and I would be overcome with such meanness, I did the only thing I could think of- pray. And pray some more. Pray for strength, courage and wisdom as if I were India Arie. 

 Not the particular stained glass Joan I gazed at, but similar.

A few days into my prayer-fest, I found myself sitting in my friend Clarissa's church, waiting to... be prayed for. As I sat in the pew, I looked over at the pretty stained glass window closest to our row and saw Joan of Arc. No, not some amazing vision, literally, a stained glass Joan, decked out in armor, ready to battle for God.Feeling weak and pathetic, I found myself staring at little Miss Teen Braveheart with a bit of jealousy. Then conviction. If she could be courageous and strong in the face of overwhelming adversity (and what must've been spiritually, the equivalent of a garbage dump the size of Texas in stench), I needed to buck up. Far stronger than "Mean Kids"and any mean things they can dish out is my God. My God, and through Him, I can do all things. Including withstanding attacks about my physical that had begun to cut spiritually. 

 "A denial, a denial, a denial, a denial..."

Joan famously said, "I am not afraid... I was born to do this." Funny that it took some colored glass for me to realize I was being wounded by fear. I was afraid that the "Mean Kids" were right. I was fat, I look stupid, unattractive, unworthy... their taunts acted as magnifiers of my own insecurities. Just like some of the mean kids' cracks when I was in middle school. I've grown up, long since dropped the "Teen Spirit" but have replaced it with a very obvious "Secret"- I'm still afraid.

I wish I could end this long blog with a nice tight little resolution, that I'm not a scaredy cat anymore, but that would be a huge denial. I have at least sniffed out the icky smell of fear... on myself. And I'm working on it. Better to stop it now before it spreads to all out stinky meaness.

I also wish I could write the "Mean Kids" are sorry. But as I wrote this, I received a clear confirmation the one who said the "n" word, is not. Talk about denials...


Alan said...

Ill leave you with a quote from one of my favorite songs by India Arie:

Good hair means curls and waves (no)
Bad hair means you look like a slave (no)
At the turn of the century
It's time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off
Like a South African beauty
Got it on lock
Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight
Like Oprah Winfrey
If its not what's on your head
It's what's underneath and say

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your ex-pec-tations no no (heyy)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within

Alisha De Freitas said...

AJ, If you knew how many times I've replayed that song... well, you'd know I really, really, really like that song, with or without Akon, lol!

But I totally agree with it! "I am not your ex-pec-tations no no"


Alisha De Freitas said...

For anyone interested, you can check out India's song here:

Don said...

I remember where you spoke on this on Twitter. I couldn't believe it then and I hardly believe it now. Not because I am foreign to the self-righteous behaviors of mean kids who become mean grown-ups, it appears. But because I see absolutely nothing wrong with your hair and your are light-years away from being ignorant.

I can't really say that I have witnessed you as tense as you were that day.

I enjoyed the read - liked how you pretty much offered a two-for-one post. Which, in my opinion, is the best kinds of blog reads.

Smells Like Teen Spirit is just one of those songs that gets the spirit moving. And the insignificant comments being aimed at you on that particular day definitely spoke of "teen" spirit.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Don, I so love that you catch my double meanings through the shades of puns. I sometimes think YOU are the only one who does. I'll say to my sister, "But did you get it? Like all the song references??" Her: "Huh, yeah, yeah, cute." Me: "AUGH! I will KELIS you... I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW!" Her: "You are so weird. Anyway..."

Yeah, I was totally freaking out that day. Angel had to take it off twitter to check on me. Thanks for the DM. I still have it. :-)

Don said...

Thanks and you're welcome.

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