Speculandra


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Why is my hair conditioner in the diaper aisle?

Oh, February. The only month when I can openly complain about #blackgirlproblems on social media and gain followers. It’s also the only month when it feels appropriate for me to boldly address a long-standing injustice and drop the mic after shouting “African Heritage Month, niggaaas!” which is exactly how I felt when I submitted a long-repressed rant to The Coast for their Love the Way We Bitch column.

“African Hair, Don’t Care” was the culmination of several years of walking into drug stores and being turned away from the “whites only” section, otherwise known as the Beauty section, otherwise known as the Hair Care section (even though it’s not where all the hair products are).

Rather than going to the Hair Care aisle for hair needs, women with thicker, curlier locks look for landmark signs to figure out where they’re supposed to go. Is it in the First-Aid aisle with the Band-Aids? Is it next to the L’Oréal hair colouring kits? Sassy Smiling Black Woman can show the way — her face is plastered on shelf displays next to the diapers at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Quinpool.

I have a message for women with thick, curly or coarse hair: your hair is not unnatural. So when you boldly go where apparently no “ethnic” woman has gone before — the Shoppers Drug Mart on Spring Garden Road — and you find that there are zero aisles hosting Sassy Black Woman posters, just take a deep breath. You can still find your way.

You can go to the aisle where the Beautiful women go. You may feel lost, not recognizing any of the terms you’ve become so fondly accustomed to, but I promise you that white people seek answers to the same hair questions, and they put most of those answers in the same aisle. It’s all for hair, and it’s all for you. Whether you want to strengthen your hair, moisturize it, add shine, smooth it, cleanse it, define its curl, repair it, or protect it from heat, your ethnicity is a barely a side-note. It all comes down to the texture of your unique hair, which varies throughout every race.

Considering the booming black hair care industry in the United States, it’s likely that in your lifetime, drug stores will get their shit together and get your hair needs out of the diaper section. Until then, try visiting your nearest “white” salon. Ask them which of their products you should buy from the display case, and see if they turn you away. 


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Tabloids spiral out of control in whirlwind around Johnny Depp lawsuit

Somewhere in the world right now a financial management firm is counter-suing their client with the help of tabloids and a lucrative stereotype; it’s probably (not) because of Johnny Depp’s uncontrollable downward spiral into self-destruction since his divorce with Amber Heard.

Before Depp’s trouble with TMG, Nicolas Cage was accused of being too financially irresponsible to understand when his managers were misusing funds, as was Rihanna in 2012. But headlines about Depp’s $25M lawsuit against The Management Group have disappeared and been replaced with details of a distraction suit. Celebrity tabloids seem to think divorce is the true reason behind “Johnny Debt’s” debut but several other headlines describe the counter-claim (for a comparably pewny amount) that alleges his spending habits are to blame.

But according to U.S. federal law, filing a counter claim doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with the original case. If someone files a lawsuit on the grounds that funds were mismanaged, the defendant can counter with an unrelated claim that their opponent is irresponsible because they once spent $3M on a funeral, or because the original claimant spends a lot on wine. TMG released exactly those claims to distract from the case that Depp filed against them.

Jezebel published a list of Depp’s monthly expenses, mixed in with some one-time expenses like fulfilling Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral wishes in 2005, in an attempt to prove that the successful celebrity actor spends so much money, he wouldn’t listen if his financial management team told him he was going broke. The same was said about Nicholas Cage in 2012, and Rihanna’s claim of financial mismanagement with Berdon LLP was met with a counter claim that her tour lost money because of her own spending. Still, they offered Rihanna more than $110M to settle the case out of court. All the while, tabloids tell the world that these celebrities and their very messy, very public personal lives are falling apart in the most lavish waves of self-destruction.

Celebrity news shows Johnny’s life falling apart, starting with his short marriage and recent divorce from Amber Heard, as though both cases are part of a totally predictable and totally epic fall to the bottom. So, when TMG came out with their counter-suit detailing Depp’s expenses, Page Six quickly published “Johnny Depp is so broke he had to fire his agent” with a ‘related video’ showing a slideshow called The Downfall of Johnny Depp which chronicles some of his less successful films and the divorce from Amber Heard.

The only connection between Johnny Depp’s divorce and his lawsuit against TMG is that the divorce was finalized the same month the fraud lawsuit was filed.

Another indisputable connection is the link between shitty contracts and dramatic lawsuits. Johnny gave his management team permissions comparable to that of a trustee (someone who can spend money without the owner’s signature) and accepted contingency fees based on an oral contract. Nicolas Cage also had an oral contract with the adviser he later sued.

The culprit of financial ruin for these top celebrities isn’t necessarily drugs, divorce, or abuse. In Rihanna’s case, her accountant was taking commission straight from ticket sales. To the shock and awe of tabloid fans, her near-bankruptcy had nothing to do with Chris Brown. From Johnny Depp to Rihanna, a bad contract is just a bad contract.

 

 


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Gangsta rap

He likes to listen to classical music when he drives, because everyone thinks he he’s listening to rap. When he pulls up to a drive-thru and Bach is booming behind him, he smiles. Silently, he’s telling them “I’m black (but) I’m classy”.

Another friend of mine wears suits and listens to hardcore hip hop. He likes the idea that everyone thinks he’s listening to classical music, or country. In his head he’s saying “I’m white (but) I’m cool”.

They’re trying to defy stereotypes, break the mould, define themselves as they choose, so that’s cool. Maybe they’re culturally appropriating each other for the sake of status, mistakenly believing that the music will reflect what’s on the inside. Still, that’s not so bad. Hopefully they have other ways of playing to the joke idea of music belonging to any one race. They probably have lots of other ways to prove that they’re different, but in the end who cares? After all, music isn’t everything.

Tooth Dreams

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I was looking at my teeth in the bathroom mirror. The longer I looked, the worse they got. Instead of my front teeth starting at my gums and ending inside my mouth, they extended outward until they pointed straight out of my mouth at a 90 degree angle. My top palette was totally disfigured, but my bottom teeth were normal. It looked like someone reached in there and pulled out the roof of my mouth with two fingers, so that it didn’t line up with my jaw. It was a beak made out of teeth. I promised myself I would see a dentist tomorrow, and woke up.

While I rode the bus to work I remembered that I had to book a dentist appointment, but I couldn’t remember why.

LOOK WHO IT IS

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On the busiest street in town where all the expensive stores are, someone disturbed the flow. It’s where homeless people go to make a quick buck, asking for change from business people and shoppers; they don’t exactly fit in with the crowd, but there’s no place else they’d be. This guy definitely didn’t fit in. He had baggy pants, a short afro and a wide gait. Most of us try not to pay attention to people who stick out. But someone’s always there, at the corner asking for help or shouting in indignation or chatting with their ‘unsavoury’ friends.

This guy wasn’t homeless. He was black, with an accent that sounded like Africville descendants in the Square, walking down the street shouting as if he owned the place. The other people at the bus stop were disgusted. One said, “Oh God” in a tone identical to the “not another one” sigh. Most people were terribly offended. He was drawing attention to himself. He was strutting, yelling, walking back and forth, telling crowds to get out of his way. He wasn’t going anywhere, he was walking back and forth. He went to one end of the block and turned around to walk to the other end.

He sounded angry but he wasn’t really saying anything. He shouted “LOOK WHO IT IS” several times when he saw someone he knew. He boomed about the weather. He yelled benign statements about things he liked. His body language and volume didn’t match the words; the visual parts of him were saying, “I matter. I’m a boss, I can push people around and none of you would dare confront me” as if one of us had offended him. He was right that we wouldn’t dare.

We probably all assumed this is just the way he is. Had he been wearing a suit, or had a shopping bag in his hand we might have assumed he was having a breakdown. Most people – when they’re circling a busy street and shouting at strangers – are having a breakdown.

But he didn’t belong on that street, anyway. He wasn’t homeless and he wasn’t shopping. We struggled to ignore him and he was pushing back. I suppose that’s all he felt he could do. Nothing he did would move us beyond hating him, no matter how bizarre he acted. Even as he shouted in our faces we couldn’t look or speak to him. But we could hate him.