Natasha here...it's been a while since I wrote to you about what's been happening with Mane Moves. I was disconnected way before the shut down and before all of the recent protests around the death of George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis Policeman Derek Chauvin. I was feeling a little helpless and overwhelmed. I was wondering if this platform mattered...if my passion mattered, if my ideas mattered. I felt in my heart, the promise that this Mane Moves platform had in lifting up the voices of Black women. I wanted so much to show Black women how beautiful they are, how brilliant they are, how fly they are and how inspiring they are...JUST the way they ARE! I created this platform because I knew how revolutionary it would be to have a space where our beauty would be celebrated. Black women I knew and women that I met on the streets of Brooklyn struggled with loving their hair. I understood that struggle because I struggled for so long to love mine. But once I did, I never looked back and I dedicated myself to making sure more Black women, men and children did too!
I’ve always known that television had power. I knew that there was power in seeing ourselves. I knew that there was power in seeing women who have dark skin, kinky hair, or locs or braids who are doing amazing things! I know how inspiring it is...because I’m inspired everyday! Society didn’t necessarily see what I saw, so I decided to create a world where Black women could see themselves, the way they truly are...anytime they wanted. That world is Mane Moves Media.
That is why in 2017 and in 2018 I decided to create a live broadcast of CURLFEST, the largest natural hair beauty festival in the world! I wanted Black women and girls around the world to be able to see US and those who love US, celebrating US...in all of our natural glory! No other news outlet carried this major event live...but Mane Moves did! I knew this event had to be covered. I’ve been following this current natural hair movement since it began to take off in 2009 here in Brooklyn, NY! I immediately decided to record and document all of the natural hair events that were happening in NYC when the movement exploded. I wanted to show the world that there are Black women in parts of the U.S. who were celebrating our beauty out loud. This current natural hair movement was a little different than the movement in the 1960’s because our rejection of historically white beauty standards were not necessarily tied to a political moment. A new moment was emerging because we were in the midst of a major shift from deep within us in how we began to perceive ourselves and it spread like wildfire. Black women took their power into their own hands and created an online community that supported each other with resources, with tutorials and with conversations about who we were and who we wanted to be moving forward. The perception shift had to begin with us first. We decided to reject a standard of beauty that looked nothing like us. We said no more to trying to fit in and we started to believe in ourselves.
With Mane Moves, I wanted to bring in the voices of the hairstylists who were being left behind because they weren’t engaged in the conversations that were happening online. The professionals had insight and expertise that was needed but not always respected. So I worked with hairstylists to expand their reach because I knew there were women all over the country who were looking for information on how to take care of our varied hair textures that were so misunderstood. However, within the community there wasn’t a strong bond between the community and the hair stylists at first but we worked on changing that dynamic. We brought together hairstylists, bloggers, product manufacturers and everyday women to connect our stories and experiences so that we can all thrive.
During Black History Month in 2019 the issue of hair discrimination was front and center in NYC and in California. There was a movement happening around protecting Black people from losing their jobs because of their hairstyles or because they wanted to wear their naturally God-given hair. The fact that there needs to be legislation to allow Black people to wear their hair the way it grows out of their heads sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But sadly it's true. We immediately created an event to inform people about their rights and to give them an opportunity to share their experiences of hair discrimination. The conversation centered on the many ways in which Black people are forced to conform and to change our inherent characteristics to be seen as ‘more acceptable’ to others. We also shared information on how to move forward with filing a formal complaint against an employer if necessary. At the writing of this, only 6 states and two counties have signed the CROWN Act into law, so the push to prove that hair discrimination is racial discrimination has a long way to go. We understand the need to share our everyday experiences as Black women in the world so we organized a watch party along with a panel discussion around the highly anticipated Netflix movie “Nappily Ever After”. We gave women the opportunity to talk about the ways in which we want our hair and our lives to be free.
In the spirit of freedom, during quarantine, I decided to dedicate my all, full time, into creating this platform because it matters. Because Black women matter. Because Black hair matters...it all matters because we do. I went into the field of television because I wanted to tell OUR stories. I have seen how Black people-- men, women and children-- have been portrayed in the media since TV was invented and it was appalling. Racist stereotypes were birthed from the beginning of the moving image and have been recreated in different iterations over and over and over again to this day. These constant tropes and stereotypes have ingrained in society ideas of who Black people are inherently. It is these images that formulate the ways in which Black people are treated all over the world. These ideas about what is beautiful and what is accepted come from these stereotypes. Unfortunately, these very same ideas seeped into our minds and affected our self image. However, times have changed and we’re moving in the right direction but we have a looooooooooong way to go. There are many issues still facing the community in terms of educational opportunities for natural hair to be taught to all who are willing to learn. Also, there is a need to advocate for licensing to ensure our community is safe from health hazards that have compromised our edges, our scalps, and who knows what else, from the years of using chemical relaxers to straighten our hair.
And so, Mane Moves Media is where Black Beauty Matters. This is the space for us to have these very important discussions because the conversation has always been deeper than just our hair. It is important for us to learn from each other and to heal the individual and collective wounds we all carry. It is important for us to tell the stories of women who have triumphed because it's important for women and girls to see people who look like them succeeding in a world that makes it difficult for them to succeed. That inspiration is so needed. It’s what got me started. Seeing Ms. Lauryn Hill being her amazing self, creating life changing, conscious shifting music, speaking truth to power, standing in her brilliance...and she had the most beautiful head of locs. It was rare in the late 90's to see a dark-skinned woman with locs being revered and getting as much positive media attention as Lauryn did. It inspired me to look deeper into myself to question why I didn’t think wearing my hair in its natural state was even a possibility. I am creating a space where that type of inspiration can spread farther and wider to all the corners of the Earth where Black women and girls live because who knows what they will be inspired to create once they believe they can!
I am happy to announce that I am launching a new online talk show series called Mane Moves LIVE! on Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day! We will be featuring women inside and outside the natural hair industry about all topics pertaining to this current moment and how we can all work together towards our collective freedom. If this sounds like something you want to participate in then join us. We are looking for segment producers, brands and sponsors to fund the show, stories to highlight and small businesses to support.
The time is now.
Are YOU here for us?