Orange is the New Black and Brown

Every time I go to the Durham County Jail, I find myself not alone. There are many others who I find myself in company with. We walk, we dance, we sing, we chant. We get to the jail and I find myself making the most noise I ever had in a while. My smile meets my tears, because I realize that those people, the ones who come to the windows, don’t get to have the luxury of smiling, of dancing, of making noise. They have to adhere to the rules of their enslavement, as per the 13th amendment.

I can understand, how to a group of extremely privileged students, a party making light of the system of putting people back into legal slavery. After all, that’s just a technicality to them. Everyone is free these days, and we’re past racism, right?

My school is an extremely well known school for being very entitled, and getting everything they want. And I can’t exactly argue, when I know students go to their summer homes in the Hamptons and winter cabins in the Alps. It’s not really something that makes me feel any type of way, other than shocked that people actually hold that type of money and are so casual about it.

Whenever I tell my family and friends from home the latest Duke scandal, and the way the students so vehemently defend it, they’re so surprised. Even my younger sister, who has no context behind the mass incarceration system was very quick to denounce this party idea. “It’s not even a fun idea,” She told me over the phone. “Why would anyone want to have a party about jail?” And I couldn’t give her an answer, because I have no idea. But some people on campus do.

Their complaints generally work around the narrative of, “Well, I was just having fun. I don’t see how this actually connects to the system of mass incarceration. You’re making a big deal out of this.”

At the teach in we held, they didn’t come to listen, to actually discuss the connections. They came to laugh at the pain that we hold, to make it seem irrelevant. “Why don’t you go do this at the jail?” They said, accusatorily. But the thing they don’t want to hear, is that we do. I believe the majority of the time I leave campus, it is to the jail. I go, I listen, I stand in support. This isn’t an easy thing to do. A lot of these prisoners are in jail for inability to pay for tickets, for fees, for fines, many of which come from the extortion of these people, many of which are black and brown, because, in a society like this, we tax the poor and marginalized much more than we do the rich. These students, confused about how this connects, don’t realize that the money that they used to put together the cage they put their pledges in is the same money that is being saved from being used for the community. In addition, they refuse to acknowledge that that disposable fund they have comes from the privilege of being able to build and save money, to make money, while other populations were not only kept from doing that, but were contributing to that wealth without receiving any money.

Another thing that I honestly couldn’t understand was when one of the students in the crowd yelled at us “What is the harm in this party?” Over and over again. It surprised me how much more they got upset when someone said, “You wouldn’t have a Holocaust party, so why have this?” The anger was  astounding. People were saying that it was too much of a comparison, and that we were dramatizing this party, but how could you say that, when what we are doing to those who are truly incarcerated is legally slavery. American slavery, the type that people don’t want to discuss anymore, and say we’re past it. When we study the 13th through 15th amendment in school, they tell us that these were the amendments that enforced freedom for everyone. But they aren’t.

If you go to the jail, you can see them from the windows, banging, watching. Holding up the signs saying “HELP US”, wishing that they could get out too. I know that one of the questions was “What do we do when all the murderers and killers get released?” There are many ideas going around, and many believe that coming up with our standards for our own community might be helpful. I would be happy to brainstorm ideas. But I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t think putting people back into a system that we’re too ashamed to even teach properly is the right way to “punish” people.

These people are dehumanized in this system, malnourished, not wont to receive proper medical attention, which actually leads to death. They’re forced to solitary confinement, and sometimes, aren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom, something that many  argue would be a basic human right. Yet here we are, having to debate why your little prison party actually ties into a bigger context.

Like it was put by a very dear friend of mine the other day, “Y’all on some fuckshit.”

-JW

 

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I used Egg in my hair as a protein treatment and here’s what happened

I love my hair as much as the next girl, and since I have decided to grow my hair out after going through my big chop (over one year ago, update coming soon), I figured that as long as I’m going through the wait, I might as well have fun along the way. Since my big chop, I’ve mostly kept my hair in protective styles for the sake of mainly growth, which has been fun in itself. Discovering yarn as extension options, doing my own hair (a complete adventure by itself), going from one hairstyle to another in a span of months, sometimes even weeks… The longer it’s been since my BC, the happier I grow with my hair. Not only am I seeing length return, but I also get to see the return of my natural curls, and this go around, I get to enjoy it as is, without feeling the need to relax it (note: not a jab at those who have relaxer, I just like my hair naturally for now).

Bringing in 2016, my hair is now reaching the point where I can do actual hairstyles that are easier for me that I couldn’t do with shorter hair. I also decided that this year I would be bolder in my search for more natural (and cheap) hair products that actually do well for my hair. Say hello to the Internet.

I have been in need of a protein treatment and being in an area where cafes and coffee shops are all the rage, I found myself in a hair desert, with the nearest beauty supply store being about an hour’s walk away. So I resigned myself to the much more accessible option: do it yourself with what you have in the kitchen.

Being a college student, I don’t usually have too much in my kitchen, and my fridge is almost perpetually empty. I was happy to find that there was something I could use that was definitely within my means and my reach: eggs. Having had a previous experience with an attempt of diy hair products (who said eggs and mayo would smell decently enough to even put near your head?), I went into this very cautiously. I was afraid that this protein treatment would leave my hair hard and disgusting, and worst of all, just as dry as when I first started. So, since I still had an egg left over, I figured the only sensible thing to do would be to try it, and put aside my reservations.

From searching through the web, I found that there are a few ways you can do this. I decided to beat the egg, and just massage it carefully though sections of my hair until everything from root to tip was covered in egg. It was very sticky, and smelled a little weird, but not as bad as the egg and mayo combined, so I couldn’t complain too much. Then I let it sit for about an hour, until it started to get hard. This part felt a little counterintuitive, as you wouldn’t want to let your hair get hard, but I was kind of relying on the website for guidance, so I realize it could be wrong.

Rinsing it out was definitely my favorite part, mainly because I didn’t want my hair to be hard. I wanted the opposite, and although I had a lot of doubt, I was seriously hoping that it would maybe even slightly help it.

Upon letting it air dry, I noticed a little bit more softness than I had before, and I did see that it helped my hair hold up a little more. Unfortunately, it did not pass my front-hair test (explanation coming soon), so I was a little bit sad, but everything else turned out okay.

Would I recommend it? I’m not sure? Everyone’s hair is different and reacts in different ways, but I would say that this is probably more oriented toward those with thinner hair, and those who only need a minor touch up in protein. For those like me, whose hair is thirsty as hell, this trick is probably not going to give you the drastic difference you were hoping for, and you may need to elevate a notch.

-JW