black girl magic

Find Your Way Back.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term ‘African American’, I typically identify as Black. I don’t have family in Africa, nor do I know where my family tree even began in Africa. Somewhere in West Africa, in the 18th century, my ancestors were abducted, sold & shipped to the U.S, right? But what does this mean? Do I have cultural ties to Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, or maybe Sierra Leone? This has sparked my curiosity for years.

I think I was exposed to ethnicity at a very young age. I grew up in a very diverse area, surrounded by Pacific Islanders, West Indians, & Latinx people. Many of these people looked like me, but they were often bilingual. I’m like, damn, you speak TWO languages?!

Here’s a funny, & slightly embarrassing story. When I was in the 4th grade, we did a project on our culture. I’ll be honest, I had no clue what that meant. Our assignment revolved around crafting our country’s flag. I knew what states my parents came from, but I was unsure of the country. Now, I had a friend who had dark skin, hair, & eyes just like me! However, she was Dominican….. well, that day, I was too! I had temporarily convinced myself that I was Dominican lol I didn’t know any better!

Since then, I’ve always desired a culture to embrace and connect with. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love Black American culture, I really do. I just despise the fact that our history always revolves around slavery, & segregation. It’s a very important part of Black history, but Black people are far more than slavery & lynching. Unfortunately, slavery has stripped away many cultural ties to Africa. Thankfully, modern technology has given us access to products that allow us reconnect with what we’ve missed out on. Black isn’t limited to African American. I wanted to learn more about my ancestral background & history. I mean, all Black people DO somehow come from Africa. My ancestors just so happen to have somehow migrate to the United States, West Virginia to be specific.

I had no clue where to start; there are SO many options when it comes to ancestral DNA testing. I did lots of research that involved comparing databases, cost, & user reviews. Ultimately, it was my brother who recommended African Ancestry to me. Although it was the most expensive option, they assured me that they had the largest African database. This means you’re more likely to get detailed results. Other companies will often guide you to a general region in Africa, while African Ancestry connects you to a particular tribe in a specific country.

On October 18, I ordered my ‘MatriClan Test Kit’, this test is for both men & women. The test uses your mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited by your mother) from your saliva to determine your ancestral roots. These results are beneficial for ANY blood relative on your mothers side of the family. The test ended up being a little over $300 with taxes. My package ended up arriving to my mailbox within a few days via USPS Priority Mail.

Inside the envelope; there were 6 swabs, 2 envelopes, competitor information, detailed directions, & a prepaid shipping envelope. They also emailed me a YouTube video that provides additional tips while clarifying the sampling instructions. After collecting the data, I shipped it back out on Friday, November 8. 10 days later on November 18th I got an email confirming African Ancestry received my swabs. Based off my calculations, the expected delivery date for my results is January 27! Let the waiting process begin……

Now, this is where things got a little complicated & annoying. The results were expected to come between January 13 & the 27th. I moved from Texas on February 1st. I expected to have my results by then, but they never came. I also never received any emails from African Ancestry notifying me that they were shipped. I was patient, very patient. I waited nearly 2 weeks before contacting the company via email. I reached out to explain I hadn’t received my results yet. They immediately responded saying they would reship them via 2 day delivery from FedEx to my new address. 1 week later, on Feb 21, still nothing. However, African Ancestry reached out to me asking if I had gotten anything yet. Which I appreciated them going out of their way to do so. This time they overnighted the results. Finally, I received them! Took about 14 weeks from the day they accepted my swabs. I assume this isn’t normal, most people get their results much sooner than this. Although I was eager & annoyed, their customer service was exquisite and it made up for the unfortunate delay.

Now to the fun part! This is a secret I kept from my entire family & it has been miserable! Me & my mom talk almost every 2 hours, so it wasn’t easy hiding this from her. I figured it would be a fun surprise for the entire family. I get to call my grandma, & my brother to join us while me, my mom & sister read the results together.

I opened the envelope, & I had received my certificate saying the company was 100% certain my ancestry ties back to the Tikar tribe currently living in Cameroon. This tribe migrated from Sudan. I’m unsure of what I expected, but I was excited to find out for sure!

Wanna know what’s the first thing I did after reading my results? I went on Pinterest to find Cameroonian recipes, of course! As a family, we all did our research to understand more about our new culture. I was excited to learn that French is widely spoken in modern day Cameroon. I took a semester of French in high school, so I’m already one step ahead of my family… I can introduce myself, and count to 10 in French!

Overall, I’ll say I’m happy with my results. Part of me wants to say it was expensive for what I received. The other part of me understands African Ancestry is a much smaller company than 23 & me, and ancestry . com. I also feel like the security of my DNA samples makes this process well worth it. The company ensured me that my information will never be distributed, because it is destroyed after my results are determined. I don’t know how this works for other companies, so I won’t speak on all that.

All I’ll say is, do your research. Decide which DNA testing company works best for you. Keep in mind, these results only reflect my maternal DNA, it’s quite specific. My great grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma was a part of the Tikar tribe. These results mean so much to me.

Best believe I’m about to show up & show out for my Cameroonian folk! Maybe I’ll be blessed enough to take a trip to the Motherland some day.

Would you consider DNA testing? What would you hope to find? For those of you who have done DNA testing, have you taken a trip to your country of origin?

I highly recommend finding out information that connects you to your cultural roots. Most Black Americans were stripped of that opportunity to know their ancestral origin. Find out where your bloodline began! We deserve to have that relationship!

Jaa Ne Okinawa, Howdy Texas

Hey everyone! I know, I’m very inconsistent with my blogging… but I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I’m really not as interesting as I would like to think I am! I’m working on it tho!

Any way! My husband and I finally got official military orders. For those who don’t know. The military loves to throw curve balls. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something completely different happens. We requested Georgia, North Carolina, and California. They offered us New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and South Carolina. Crazy right? Of course we chose South Carolina. We optimistically waited a few days before hearing back. Unfortunately, South Carolina was no longer available, but the other options were. We decided to pass on those options and wait. We waited & waited & did some more waiting. Then they said “You’re going to Mississippi!” I wasn’t really excited to hear that. I’m more of a city girl, and the city we would be going to, was more of a small town. I guess I was just excited to be back stateside, because I can’t handle another overseas tour. HONESTLY OVER IT. I was grateful, and I was going to make the best of it.

But no, we aren’t going to Mississippi. We are going to San Antonio, Texas!! For some odd reason, I’m looking forward to it. It’s not too far from home, but it’s different. I’m thankful for warm weather, and daisy dukes. Texas is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. So, I guess I get to enjoy a 3 year vacation? I’m so excited for is the barbeque, the basketball and the margaritas! Not that I’m a Spurs fan by any means, Clippers all the way, I’m just excited to be able to watch LIVE basketball.

I am a bit apprehensive about a few things, I can’t lie. For one, I moved to Japan 2 weeks after graduating high school. I used to work two jobs while balancing school, and my social life (even though I only had 3 friends, NOT the point). The past two and a half years here, I’ve been a housewife. Staying home was completely new to me. I’ve never been the one to cook, or clean, I’m the youngest child, it wasn’t my job lol. I learned, but I don’t love staying home. It’s going to be exciting to start working again once I get to Texas, however, it WILL be tough to balance being a wife, and working while I start my business (more details later).

It’s going to be really exciting to buy a car, been doing tons of research, and accepting suggestions! I’m excited about moving to a new city. I’m excited to be closer to my family. I’m excited to be a little west. As embarrassing as it sounds, the farthest west I’ve been, is West Virginia. Texas is going to be new for me, but I feel like it’s what I need. Aside from visiting, I never ever plan to live in Orlando again. So much more to see in the world. I wanna meet new people, try new things, and experience a different culture! I feel like I’m finally getting to experience the real world. I finally get to start a job, buy a house, get a puppy, the whole shebang. So many fun things I have planned for 2017.

I’m well aware of the culture shock I’m going to have to deal with. I haven’t been in the states in over 2 years! Though I spent 18 years living in the US, it’s going to be a huge adjustment. Japanese culture is amazing, and so different than I was used to. For one, Japanese people are extremely polite. The customer service here is taken serious no matter wherever you go. Crime rate? It’s super rare to hear about anything crazy out here. If there ever is crime, 9 times out of 10, it’s the Americans doing stupid sh–. It’s also extremely often to see kids walking to school alone, I mean kids who are barely 6 years old. Not a common site in America. Japan is a gun free country, so you won’t hear about people accidently on purpose shooting their husbands. It’s much quieter here, aside from the occasional Eisa Drummers. Did I mention that we drive on the left side of the road here?! That’s gonna be a huge adjustment.

This is really our first PCS (Permanent Change of Station). When I moved to Japan, all I brought with me was a checked bag, a carry-on, and a personal item. This time around, I have a whole house to pack. So far, I’m not too overwhelmed, but if you know me, you know the crazy will kick in anytime now. Who knew you had to take photos of all your belongings and literally create an entire inventory for it? Apparently it’s very common for the packers to lose and/or steal your things. We have a binder put together, with 18 copies of our orders lol and all the other important stuff. I would appreciate any suggestions or advice for a OCONUS to CONUS PCS! What things helped you transition smoother? What things do you wish you had done differently?

I know I’m constantly talking about how excited I am to leave Okinawa, but that doesn’t mean I hate it here. I’ve had some amazing experiences here, met some wonderful people here. I met my bestest friend here! Though she probably isn’t reading this, because she spends majority of her time breast feeding, I truly truly truly am grateful that I’ve met her, and her husband. Those two definitely have helped me make the most out of being so far away from home. Those people are my family now! It’s going to be tough leaving them, but they can’t get rid of me that easily. I can’t even count how many incredible people I’ve met here. Between my husband’s coworkers, the people I used to work with, and the people I’ve met on the internet –too many people have made things in Okinawa worth it. I’m optimistic that I will meet some equally amazing people in Texas. I’m down to my last few months here, and I’m going to make the best of it. Texas ain’t ready for me!! Soon enough I’ll be saying “Jaa Ne Okinawa, and Howdy Texas”!

Why Natural Hair Isn’t Natural For Me.

This upcoming March will make 3 long years since my “Big Chop”. For those who don’t know, a big chop is when you cut off the relaxed ends of your hair, leaving the hair that has no straightening chemicals in it. In the past 3 years, I could honestly say that I’ve either worn braids, or sew-ins for more than 50% of the time. For me, it’s easier to wear weaves than to do my own hair.

I’ve had relaxed hair for as long as I can remember. Having straight hair was all I knew. After years of dealing with breakage, I got my last relaxer in May of 2012. Not getting relaxers didn’t really change anything for me because I was getting my hair done professionally twice a month. Even after getting my big chop, months later, I never really had experience dealing with my own hair. I’ve never had short hair, I didn’t know what to do with it, and so I pretty much wore sew-ins up until I moved to Japan.

When I first moved to Japan, I was about a year “Post Big Chop”. My hair was probably close to chin length. I had no clue what to do with my hair. The climate in Okinawa is completely different than what I’m used to, and it effected my hair a lot. My hair was always dry, and I still struggled with breakage still. When I finally found a regimen that worked for me, it didn’t last long before my hair grew to neck length and my texture changed. I could no longer get a successful twist out, which was my go-to style.

We all hear about the perks of being natural; hair growth, less breakage, a healthier scalp. I’ve heard that it’s easier, cheaper and more versatile to have natural hair. Then you start noticing all the beautiful naturals with long, defined curls, or the ladies with the perfect up-do. I started to wonder, “What am I doing wrong with my hair?” I consistently struggle with keeping my hair moisturized. If your hair isn’t moisturized, you can’t detangle it, and if it’s not detangled, good luck with getting it to look decent. It’s discouraging at times. Some people make it look so effortless. It’s not always so easy for everyone.

I want to clear things up; being natural isn’t natural to me. I have more bad hair days than I have good hair days. My hair grows very slowly. I have considered cutting my hair off more times than I can count. I wear my hair in a bun majority of the time. I get so frustrated whenever I have to deal with my hair. My hair is still a work in progress, and I haven’t given up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being natural. I’ve definitely started becoming more aware of the things I allow in my body.

The main reason I really wanted to write this, is because so many people glamorize having natural hair, but I never hear people talk about the struggles. I’ve always said “being natural isn’t for everyone”, which is crazy to me. Having natural hair isn’t always pretty. My advice for myself, as well as other struggling naturals; don’t let anyone discourage you. We all have completely different hair types. I don’t think I will ever relax my hair again, or at least I hope I won’t. As tough as it is, I’m prepared to put in the time and money to fall in love with my natural hair.

THIS IS NOT A NATURAL HAIR SHAMING POST. I’m open to any advice, tips, or encouraging words anyone may have!

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