The Perils of Blackness: Good Hair...Bad Hair...Now 'Nasty' Hair?


Sheryl Underwood Tiana Parker
A firestorm was unleashed when comedian Sheryl Underwood (top) made disparaging remarks about natural hair and a little girl in Tulsa, OK (bottom) changed schools because of her hair

I finally saw the clip of Sheryl Underwood’s comments about black folks' natural hair. I now understand why she was ragged on so much on Twitter and was nearly in tears in her apology on Steve Harvey's radio show. Underwood tried to chalk the situation up to a joke gone wrong but her statements were so incredibly hurtful and psychologically damaging it may take some time for her to get this behind her.

It doesn't help that Steve Harvey, in his attempt to support his friend Underwood, referred to the incident as "the little thing going on about the hair comment." Oh, no, the hair comments are not a little thing or Underwood wouldn't have realized such a backlash. Hair is a very sensitive issue for black people. Underwood could have let it go after after one remark, but no, she continued the black hair beatdown when other women on the panel were trying to move the conversation on.  


Lest we forget, while black folk are busy being angry with Sheryl Underwood, be mindful that Aisha Tyler, another black woman on 'The Talk," sat at that same table and didn’t say a mumbling word. Tyler did look uncomfortable but she didn't do anything to ease the pain, so she doesn't get a pass. 

What’s the message sent about kinky, curly or wavy hair? It’s ugly ---- straighten it! Even white people feel the same way so let's put this issue in perspective. At this juncture, the dots in this controversy could be connected by a discussion on white supremacy and idolization white European beauty but I won't go there. I do ask you to pay more attention to the images and words in the media and in our daily conversations and internet interactions. 

Deborah Brown Community School, a charter school in Tulsa, OK bans ‘faddish’ hairstyles like dreadlocks, mohawks and afros. Consequently, Tiana Parker, a little 7 year-old black girl, was sent home because of her hair which she wore in locs. 


It’s understandable that a school wants its students to look presentable but come on, there was nothing wrong with that child’s hair. Tiana, a straight-A student, according to her father, wore her hair in this manner last year  and it wasn't a problem. The school decided to enforce their policy this school year.

Tiana Parker’s father has been lauded by many for removing her from the school rather than conforming to the school’s dress code policy. That’s all well and good but Deborah Brown Community School is a charter school, as such, can establish its own dress code policy --- even if it is ridiculous.  Why would the parent of a black child subject him or her to a psychologically terroristic environment that blatantly demonstrates disdain for a child's natural beauty? Even with the school's good academic performance reputation, I don't think so.

The most flack I’ve gotten about my hair, in its natural state, has been from other black people. White people usually want to touch it, especially when my hair was in locs. It’s so sad and I wonder if it will ever change since images of black women in natural hairstyles are a rarity even in media by, for and about blacks. Check it out for yourself.

Sheryl Underwood and the governing board and administration of Deborah Brown Community School are all black which makes this black hair drama all the more pathetic. Perhaps one day, EVERYONE, will appreciate their God-given beauty. In the meantime, I strongly encourage Underwood and the folks at Deborah Brown Community School to watch Chris Rock's documentary, Good Hair.



Diversifying the Ranks of Cancer Researchers To Help Reduce Cancer Disparities


By the National Cancer Institute

BETHESDA, Md., Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Somewhere in a research laboratory, an African American woman with a medical degree is helping to solve the mysteries of breast cancer.  She is working with colleagues to find out why young African American women are disproportionately affected by triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive and often deadly form of the disease.  In another laboratory, an African American man who is an expert on prostate cancer is examining results from a new test that may one day help explain the disparity in which black men are more likely to develop and die from prostate cancer than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.

As the research community invests more resources into investigating cancer and other health disparities, improving diversity in the research ranks is critical. Underrepresented researchers bring more to the table than education and training credentials.  Researchers from underserved communities can help educate and interest patients from their respective communities in cancer clinical trials because they are trusted by patients in those communities. They can also provide cultural insight that other researchers may not have.  For example, an African American cancer researcher is more likely to understand the "fear" some African American men have of regularly visiting the doctor or understand that, in many African American households, the woman is the medical "gatekeeper."

Yet, the shortage of underrepresented investigators in biomedical research labs is pronounced. Between 2000 and 2008, African Americans earned just 1,900 of the 82,000 doctoral degrees in biology, chemistry, and physics awarded by U.S. institutions, according to the National Science Foundation.  

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is opening doors for African Americans and others from underserved communities to join the cancer research enterprise.  Through two key programs, NCI aims to encourage more researchers from underserved communities to join the field and prepare underrepresented scientists for the rigors of a research career.

The Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program provides training and career development opportunities to researchers as young as high school students all the way up to junior investigators. The program helps researchers enhance their skills and opportunities through formal networking and mentoring, and it provides a range of funding opportunities for CURE participants.

NCI's Partnership to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) program offers intensive training opportunities for participants by fostering partnerships between NCI-designated cancer centers and academic institutions that provide services to racially and ethnically diverse or underserved communities. The PACHE program has a total of 17 partnership sites.

Both CURE and PACHE are run by the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. The center was created in 2001 to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in our society and train the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research.

The commitment to enhance diversity in biomedical research also extends to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NCI's parent agency.  NIH is working to increase the ranks of researchers from underserved communities and to enhance opportunities for more researchers of color to obtain research funding through a formal Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce.  The group presented a plan of action in August 2011 that called for investing more than $500 million in programs over the next decade to encourage more underrepresented individuals to become biomedical scientists. 

NCI has a growing cadre of researchers from underserved communities who are leading the way in helping the cancer research community address cancer disparities. You can learn more by reading the Lifelines® profiles of Drs. Jorge Gomez and Tanya Agurs-Collins here.

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI web site at or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). More articles and videos in the culturally relevant Lifelines series are available


CONTACT: James Alexander, +1-240-276-6633,

Tennis Legend Althea Gibson Honored with Postage Stamp

Althea Gibson Forever Postage Stamp
© 2013 U.S. Postal Service

Beginning Friday, August 23, 2013, customers may purchase the Althea Gibson Forever stamp at, at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide. Tennis legend Althea Gibson is the 36th inductee into the Postal Service’s Black Heritage stamp series

“I’m excited that the Postal Service is releasing a Forever stamp that honors the legacy of my friend, Althea Gibson,” said fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King. “Her achievements served as a catalyst for equality in sports and in life and I am honored to participate in this historic event.” 

As the first African-American tennis player to win one of the four major singles tournaments, Althea Gibson (1927–2003) helped integrate her sport at the height of the civil rights movement. She twice won Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) and became the top-ranked player in the world.

“Althea Gibson was impossible to ignore,” said U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer William Campbell. “Her achievements demanded Americans everywhere pay attention — and pay attention they did. She opened doors that other African-American tennis players would one day walk through — including Arthur Ashe, Katrina Adams, Chanda Rubin and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.”

The stamp, which features an action shot of Gibson, emphasizes two of her notable characteristics:  grace and athleticism. Designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, the stamp features an oil-on-wood painting of Gibson by artist Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles, CA. The art is based on a photograph taken at Wimbledon. 


The Making of the Icon 

Gibson was born Aug., 25, 1927 in Silver, SC. As a young child, she was sent to New York City to live with her aunt Sally. Gibson’s parents, Annie and Daniel, eventually migrated north as well, settling in an apartment on West 143rd Street in Harlem.

As a child, Gibson fared well in New York’s Police Athletic League (PAL) paddle tennis competitions. Musician Buddy Walker, who worked during summers as a play leader for the PAL, saw potential in Gibson. He purchased a few used tennis rackets and gave them to her. Later, she was formally introduced to the game at Harlem's Cosmopolitan Club, a hub for black tennis players.

In 1942, Gibson entered — and won — her first tournament, the New York State Open Championship. The event was sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), the country’s black tennis circuit. Gibson went on to win the ATA junior championship in both 1944 and 1945. By 1946, Gibson was competing at the women’s level. She dominated the ATA in the late-1940s and earned her high school diploma in June 1949.

Soon after graduation, she entered Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee on an athletic scholarship. In college, she played basketball and also kept her tennis skills sharp. The latter came in handy in 1950, when Gibson got her first real shot at the big time. Perhaps she was spurred on by an American Lawn Tennis editorial written by former tennis champ Alice Marble — an ardent Gibson backer and supporter of equal rights. The United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accepted her application to play in that summer’s United States Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) in Forest Hills, NY. Gibson, the first African-American ever to enter that tournament, advanced to the second round. In 1951, she once again made history, becoming the first black player to enter Wimbledon.

In 1953, Gibson graduated from Florida A&M and took a job teaching physical education at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. For the next few years, her USLTA ranking fluctuated. She mulled joining the Women's Army Corps in order to support herself and her family. Still, she hadn't forgotten about tennis.

Around that time, coach Sydney Llewellyn began helping Gibson reshape her game. Gibson also received support from friend Rosemary Darben, a player on the ATA circuit. Throughout the 1950s, Gibson lived with the Darben family in Montclair, NJ.

In 1955, Gibson received an invitation from the State Department to join a delegation of American tennis stars for a public relations tour of Asia. The trip proved to be invaluable. She bonded with her fellow players and, in the process, gained confidence and on-court savvy.

She built on the experience, stringing together an impressive run of victories in Asia and Europe. In 1956, she captured the French Championships (now known as the French Open) in Paris and became the first African-American of either gender to win one of the four major singles tournaments. Gibson also teamed up with Angela Buxton to win the doubles crown. The victories were vital for Gibson, who was well aware of the burden she carried.

“No matter how hard I tried to think of myself as just another person, I was constantly being confronted with proof that I wasn’t, that I was a special sort of person — a Negro with a certain amount of international importance. It was pleasant to think about but very hard to live with,” Gibson wrote in I Always Wanted to Be Somebody, her autobiography. “It was a strain, always trying to say and do the right thing, so that I wouldn't give people the wrong idea of what Negroes are like.”

Still, Gibson pressed on, earning a measure of stardom in the midst of the civil rights movement. She achieved perhaps the most famous victory of her career on July 6, 1957, prevailing in the Wimbledon final in straight sets. Afterward, Gibson shouted, “At last! At last!” During the trophy ceremony, she was greeted by Queen Elizabeth II. When Gibson returned to New York, the city threw her a ticker-tape parade. The good times continued that summer. In August, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine. On Sept. 8, Gibson cruised to victory in the final of the U.S. Championships to win the tournament for the first time.

Gibson, the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958, had become the top-ranked player in the world. In 1958, she successfully defended her titles both at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Championships. She turned professional soon after, ending her amateur career with five major singles titles and six major doubles titles.

Gibson's days as a competitive athlete, however, were not over. In 1959 and 1960, she toured with the Harlem Globetrotters, playing before their games against fellow tennis star Karol Fageros. In 1958 she released an album called Althea Gibson Sings and performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. She also became the first African American to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. She played many LPGA tournaments in the 1960s.

In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She later worked in athletics for the state of New Jersey, where she made her home. She died Sept. 28, 2003, at the age of 76.

Many of this year’s other stamps may be viewed on Facebook at, via Twitter at @USPSstamps or at


Amtrak Celebrates 50th Anniversary of March On Washington with Wreath-Laying Ceremony at Statue of Civil Rights Leader A. Philip Randolph


Amtrak is sponsoring a wreath-laying ceremony today at the A. Philip Randolph statue at Washington Union Station as part of activities for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

The A. Philip Randolph Institute, a Washington, DC, based organization that supports civil rights, anti-discrimination, progressive tax politics and universal, affordable healthcare, will host the event in the East Hall at 3:30 p.m. The ceremony will honor Randolph, who organized the first black union for Pullman Porters, and as a civil rights leader, who, along with others, organized the March on Washington.

The Pullman Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars from the mid-1800s into the 20th Century and developed sleeping cars that bore the company’s name, Pullman cars. The Pullman Company hired blacks to work as porters on board their trains, and these porters became renowned for their outstanding service.  Pullman Porters, as they came to be known, were organized into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters under the leadership of Randolph in 1925. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first labor union led by blacks to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor.

The statue of Randolph stands in his honor on the concourse of Washington Union Station. Amtrak named one of its sleeping cars, Superliner II Deluxe Sleeper 32503, the “A. Philip Randolph” in his honor.

Passenger trains played a pivotal role in America’s history. During the Great Migration of the early 1900s, blacks left the rural South aboard passenger trains to the Northeast and other regions of the country in search of better wages and job opportunities.





UP, America’s favorite channel for uplifting family entertainment, presents the UP Original Movie The Love Letter (#TheLoveLetter), a romantic drama about the path from friendship to true love, starring Emmy® nominee Keshia Knight Pulliam (“House of Payne,” “The Cosby Show”), Romeo Miller (Madea’s Witness Protection, Jumping the Broom, Honey), Emmy Award winner and Golden Globe® nominee Jackée Harry (“The First Family,” “Sister, Sister,” “227”), Marques Houston (“Cuts,” “One on One”), Erica Hubbard (“Lincoln Heights,” “Let’s Stay Together”), Tequilla Whitfield (“A Cross to Bear,” Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming), and newcomer Terrill Patterson. Gary Wheeler (UP’s The Perfect Summer, Somebody’s Child) directs from a script by Chazitear Martin.

The Love Letter will premiere exclusively on UP on Saturday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 11 at 7, 9 and 11 p.m. EDT.

The Love Letter explores just how tricky things can get when your best friend is the opposite sex. Parker (Keshia Knight Pulliam), an established entertainment columnist, and her sports-fanatic best friend, Aaron (Romeo Miller), have been inseparable since childhood. They know everything about each other – from her dating mishaps to the fact that he doesn’t love his current girlfriend, which makes his sudden engagement all the more surprising and planning his wedding very difficult. Parker’s meddling mother, Josephine (Jackée Harry), is determined to get her mind off of Aaron's wedding by introducing her to "nice guys," including millionaire Wesley (Marques Houston). Still, Parker finds it impossible to focus on much besides Aaron and his relationship.

She decides to explore her feelings in her magazine column, penning a letter from an “anonymous” reader looking for advice. Surprised by the overwhelming reader feedback and her feelings, Parker realizes something about herself and what she really wants out of life.

“The Love Letter is a charming story about the search for happiness and putting friendship to the test for love – something everyone can identify with,” says Leslie Glenn Chesloff, executive vice president of programming, UP. “This film explores the adage that you can find love where you least expect it and that it might be right in front of you all along.”

Broadcast premiere of controversial film ‘Dark Girls’ airs on OWN, 6/23, ABPSI and CHN provide solutions to dilemmas posed by the film


Watch the world television premiere of Dark Girls on OWN. Tune in Sunday, June 23, at 10/9c.

Dark Girls is a fascinating and controversial documentary film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe. Women share their personal stories, touching on deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes of society, while allowing generations to heal as they learn to love themselves for who they are.

The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) announced that, in response to a request from the Oprah Winfrey Network, it is providing resources to facilitate healing conversations about the ground-breaking film, Dark Girls, which will have its world television premiere on OWN on Sunday, June 23, 2013. ABPsi’s resources will be available at

In addition, ABPsi is providing information about its collaboration with the Community Healing Network (CHN), which is working to mobilize the Black community to overcome internalized beliefs about the inferiority of Black skin, Black hair, and other characteristics associated with people of African ancestry. 

Dark Girls explores the blows to self-esteem faced by dark-skinned women all over the world, and ABPsi psychologists have compiled a summary of the issues raised in the film and their psychological implications, emotional wellness tips, and links to helpful resources. 

To address the broad range of problems related to the idea of Black inferiority, ABPsi is working with CHN to create a network of self-help groups focused on emotional emancipation, healing, and wellness for Black people. ABPsi has developed a ground-breaking, research-based Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circles Toolkit and Curriculum in partnership with CHN, which will be available to the public in August 2013. EE Circles are safe, flexible gatherings in which Black people can come together to share stories, learn more about the impact of historical forces on emotions, and learn and practice essential emotional wellness skills. 

“We believe,” said Community Healing Network President Enola Aird, “that the only real solution to the problems illuminated in Dark Girls is a vibrant grassroots movement for the emotional emancipation of Black people, and it is our hope that EE Circles will be catalysts for personal reflection, dialogue, and action that will help heal, revitalize, and transform the Black community.” 

For more information, visit and



Related Links:

The Official Dark Girls Movie Website

Dark Girls





(BLACK PR WIRE) – ATLANTA – May 15, 2013 – GMC TV, America’s favorite channel for uplifting family entertainment, presents the original World Premiere Stage Play “Love Will Find A Way”(, #StagePlay), the conclusion of a two-part romantic dramedy starring Christian Keyes (What’s Done In The DarkMadea Goes To Jail), Gabrielle Dennis (“The Game”), Jason Weaver (Drumline, ATL), Vanessa Simmons (“Run’s House,”Dysfunctional Friends.), Carl Payne (“Martin,” “The Game”), Shanti Lowry (“The Game,” “The Closer”) and Suveria Mota (Las Pandillas de Los Angeles). “Love Will Find A Way” makes its world television premiere exclusively on UP on Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET/PT. 

GMC TV will officially change its name to UP on June 1, so “Love Will Find A Way” represents the first original Stage Play to air on the newly-named network. The network’s new name communicates a clear sense of its unique brand position, which has always been, and will continue to be “Uplifting Entertainment.”

Based on an original screenplay written by Siddeeqah “Sid” Powell (GMC’s NAACP Image Award nominated “Somebody’s Child”) and directed by Drue Powell (Somebody’s Child, “For Richer or Poorer” Series), “Love Will Find A Way” is a sequel to May’s Original World Premiere Stage Play “What Would You Do For Love.”.

UP’s “Love Will Find A Way” is produced by Swirl Films’ Eric Tomosunas, who has produced and taped numerous stage plays and feature-length films for television and DVD, including 35 & Ticking, Love for Sale, A Mother’s Prayer, There’s a Stranger in My House, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “The Ideal Husband,” “The Love You Save” and “Sugar Mommas.” Follow Swirl Films on Facebook at and Twitter on @SwirlFilms.

“Love Will Find A Way” is the fifteenth original stage play to air in the network’s World Premiere Stage Play series following the success of GMC productions “What Would You Do For Love,” “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Between Sisters,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “The Ideal Husband,” “She’s Not Our Sister,” “The Love You Save,” the NAACP-nominated “Sugar Mommas,” “If You Really Love Me,” “For Richer For Poorer,” “From This Day Forward,” “In Sickness and In Health,” “To Love and To Cherish,” and “Community Service.” UP is the only network producing this popular medium and introducing new, original works to a broad television audience.

For photos and more information, please go

Justice for Kendrick Johnson


Kendrick Johnson, sophomore student was last seen leaving a class on January 10, 2013. His remains were found January 11, 2013 in the school gym rolled up in mats. The Lowndes County sheriff ruled this an accident before the official autopsy report was completed. The family called on NAN to help them bring this issue to light. They have since been rallying in the Valdosta community. On April 18, 2013 the Lowndes County Coroner stated that the Sheriff erred in stating the death was accidental before the autopsy was complete. The Coroner also stated that the crime scene had been compromised citing the body had been moved and that the coroner was called in at 4PM when the body was found at 9AM.

The family, NAN, faith leaders and students are calling out for justice. We believe an independent state or federal investigation is appropriate. We are asking you to join us in the fight to justice for KJ.

This Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Valdosta, GA to show support for the family and rally the community. This event will take place at the Serenity Christian Church located at 1619 North Lee St. Valdosta, GA 31602. Doors open at 5PM.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z visit Cuba too bad they didn't meet Sonia Garro Alfonso

Power couple Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter caused quite a stir during their recent visit to Havana, Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. As expected, some Republican politicians have already questioned the purpose of the Carters trip. U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami have called on the Treasury Department to investigate violations of travel restrictions to the Communist controlled island by the Carters, their mothers and other members of their entourage.

The Carters wined and dined in some of the finest restaurants in Havana. Crowds gathered wherever the couple went. The many brown and black faces along the streets in Cuba were visual reminders of the country's connection to Africa.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Carter are taking a public relations beating in some circles, this trip may have an upside because it is a teachable moment. The media attention garnered by Beyoncé and Jay-Z provides an opportunity for sharing the truth regarding the daily lives of black Cubans and dissidents who today endure tremendous human rights abuses on the island.

My plan was to write about how incredibly beautiful Beyoncé looked with her hair in box braids and wearing minimal make up. My plan was to write about how seeing more of ethnic looking Beyoncé rather than Eurocentic Beyoncé would improve the self-image of black women and girls around the world until my research led me to the story of Cuban dissident and political prisoner Sonia Garro Alfonso.

Born and raised in Cuba, Sonia Garro, has been imprisoned for more than a year for merely demanding respect for human rights and the freedom to express her views. After being violently arrested at her home on March 18, 2012, she and her husband, Ramón Alejandro Muñoz, have been imprisoned by the Castro government without charges and without a trial. WSJ on Sonia Garro: Two Easters in Castro's Dungeons
By Mary Anastasia O'Grady in The Wall Street Journal:

The world, for the most part, does not know who she is and Ms. Garro thinks she has been forgotten. Such is the desired message to Garro and others who speak out against the Cuban government and tell truth. Speak out and you will be silenced.

There has been little to no outcry about the human rights violations heaped upon Sonia Garro. Her husband and others are enduring the same fate. In an odd way, Beyoncé and Jay-Z's controversial trip will allow Sonia Garro Alfonso's story to be shared with a wider audience.

Related Link:
Two Easters in Castro's Dungeons

Photos: (Beyonce') Ramon Espinosa