Saturday, December 26, 2015

Strength: Lesson #2

A tignon (pronounced tiyon) is a type of head-covering that closely resembles the gele of West Africa. It was worn (required by law) by women of African descent in Spanish controlled Louisiana beginning in 1786. During this era, the Spanish governor decreed that all women of color should cover their hair in order to refrain from an "excessive attention to dress" (they were attracting the "interests" of the local men) and to restore/ maintain the accepted class/ racial distinctions and prejudices.

This intended mark of inferiority came to have a very different effect...New Orleans historian Carolyn M. Long shares: 

"Instead of being considered a badge of dishonor, the tignon became a fashion statement. The bright reds, blues, and yellows of the scarves, and the imaginative wrapping techniques employed by their wearers, are said to have enhanced the beauty of the women of color."

Instead of accepting this racist "mark of inferiority", the women reinterpreted the law to enhance their beauty and protest against this demeaning "law".  I can't help to think that the strength seen in the Black Lives Matter movement has the "Spirit of the Tignon" in their declaration of pride and demand for justice...

As 2016 approaches, let's recognize and embrace inherent and unique beauty...even in those who some would call "our enemy"!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Strength: Lesson #1


In America and many other countries, strength is demonstrated through "superior" economic systems, "enlightened" educational reform, "advanced" military technology and the ability to injure/ kill with scientific this "warrior mentality" a sign of strength or ultimately a profound sign of weakness? 

For many Native Americans (there were over 500+ distinct/ diverse tribes), hair was seen as a symbol of spiritual health and strength. Many believed that the purity seen in babies/ young children could help preserve (symbolized through long hair) their spiritual strength and that this strength of spirit could be developed throughout their lifetime. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to have your hair cut against your will by the U.S. government "Department of Education"...aka Indian Boarding Schools?

As the New Year approaches, can we contemplate for just a moment...

How should we "show our strength" in 2016?