Can I just lay down the beauty/hair/lifestyle blogger mantle for a minute and speak what’s on my mind?

Quite frankly, I’m struggling to do what I’m “supposed” to do right now. I’m struggling to find the right words, and as someone whose livelihood is in words, it doesn’t feel good. It’s Christmas and there’s this conflict between what we’re quote-unquote supposed to feel, juxtaposed with what’s happening in our world. Right now there are die-ins happening at the malls and protesters stopping traffic in the streets to send the message home that black lives matter. That Mike Brown and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice’s deaths were unjust and the system is broken and it needs to be fixed. So even though it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, it certainly doesn’t feel holly jolly or very merry or like the most wonderful time of the year.


Christmas image via Shutterstock

Around this time of year I usually write a bunch of lighthearted posts – recipes and gift guides and little lists of items to make your season bright. Then it moves into New Year’s resolutions and vision boards and fitness goals for the new year. It’s been the routine for the 8 years I’ve been writing this here blog. This is the first time that routine has felt wrong. This is the first year I’ve had to struggle within myself to find a semblance of holiday spirit.

I’ve started writing so many blog posts, recently. Haven’t finished any of them. I’ll start writing about a favorite product or book you need to give for Christmas or winter hair care tip…and then midway through, my own ability to write and interest in what I’m saying will just float away into the wind. I’ll be listening to Christmas music with the TV on mute, and then I’ll look up just in time to see Eric Garner’s tragic, awful death play out once again on television news. Again and again and again. Have you noticed that in news clips, they usually don’t show a still photo of Mr. Garner? Instead we get to see that tragic, awful moment play out in an nightmarish cycle. My heart goes out to his family, I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been.

This year, there are a few Christmas songs that have felt more resonant than others. Stevie Wonder’s Someday at Christmas is one of them. John Lennon’s Happy Xmas is another. “So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year over. A new one just begun.”

This is supposed to be a time of celebration, love, family and friends. We’re ending one year, about to move into another. Despite everything that’s happening, it is still Christmas. So how do you find the spirit, when it’s so very elusive? I’m trying to find it. The main thing that’s been calling to me and showing me a glimmer of hope, is charity. Giving to charitable organizations around the holidays is always a beautiful and important thing. There are some charitable organizations at the top of my mind, considering everything that’s happening in America right now.

First of all, I want to call attention to the Indiegogo fundraiser for Eric Garner’s children – they have met their goal but still need and deserve support.

I am thankful for those organizations who are on the ground and in the streets standing up for our rights, so shout out to BYP 100, the Dream Defenders, Millenial Activists United and Hands Up United.

In our own communities there are organizations that need uplifting. Here in Chicago, I do my best to support Mercy Home, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and women’s organizations like Sarah’s Circle and Chicago Dream Center. I know there are SO many more that need our support. If you know of some particularly reputable and needy charities that support the community, please let me know.

It’s hard to find Christmas cheer when so much is going on, so it’s important to cherish the moments whenever you can. If you’ve found ways to spread Christmas cheer, please share with me! Maybe your idea will spark someone else into action.

How are you doing? How are you feeling? Are you having the same kind of Christmas conflict?

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Rootspiration says:
December 12, 2014, 1:24 pm
I absolutely am. Im so glad you voiced this. This has been a peculiar holiday season. It is disheartening that justice did not serve but the unended mention, activism and publicity shows that a community exist that extends color lines. That gives me hope in this. The outcome is yet to be seen. For Christmas cheer giving has always been the remedy. It is absolutely invigorating to open your heart, time and life to give to your community, or individuals in need. Sometimes a helping hand is the most valuable thing. God bless
Petal says:
December 12, 2014, 2:19 pm
Christmas is a time of hope and joy. A time of family and festivity. A time of giving. Don't let angry, sad or hopeless thoughts detract from the need to give to the deserving at this Christmas time.
Maris says:
December 12, 2014, 2:52 pm
I have found myself disheartened as well when typing out the light-hearted posts (and any post, really-I have almost 20 posts since Ferguson in the draft folder) but I remember back in my theater days getting a speech about responsibility. There are many people feeling equally overwhelmed and bombarded by the constant images of pain, and it is performers, writers and creatives that give them a breather. A break-however small-is crucial to some peoples' self-care; it gives them a place to go when it seems everything around them is beating them over the head with "reality". While by no means do I think my blog is saving the world, I do read yours and other blogs to get a pick-me-up, and I'd like to think I'm doing the same for other people. So I push on, post self-care tips in between reviews of my favorite dresses, and pray my tiny part helps brighten at least one person's day.
afrobella says:
December 12, 2014, 3:06 pm
my next post is about self-care!! I will be sure to check out your blog. Thanks for the reminder and the inspiration!
Sarah says:
December 12, 2014, 5:50 pm
I am feeling the same way these days. I've never been one to be caught up in the materialistic, commercial greed that majority culture attempts to dictate around this time of year. I've always looked forward to being with my family and this year I can't help but wonder how the Garner family, Brown family, Rice family, Martin family and so many other families will make it through not only this season but going forward. I still grieve my father's death from prostate cancer 13 years ago and I at least was sort of prepared for it. I can't fathom the waves of anguish and anger, despair and despondency and overwhelming sense of loss these families are enduring. I pray for them and I pray for us as a people, that we will develop a consistent strategy to combat this institutionalized, government sanctioned racism. My personal strategy of combat is through empowering my students to become critical thinkers, social justice advocates, people who think about collective success as opposed to just personal success. I affirm my students daily in their Blackness, in their ability to create solutions and alternatives to the societal decay in which we currently live. This is how I know to fight, to equip the very targets to position themselves on an unstoppable trajectory. This is where I work out my grief and anger, this is what i know to do.
Char says:
December 12, 2014, 6:42 pm
I'm with you. I'm just taking some time for self care, and making my Christmas gifts. I love to make things for people, and crafting soothes my soul. :)
LaNeshe says:
December 12, 2014, 9:05 pm
I just had a baby in October and have been consciously using her as my distraction from what is happening right now. I haven't wanted to face it. I believe many people are feeling a conflict right now between the usual holiday gaiety, and the serious issues are community are dealing with.
Angela says:
December 12, 2014, 11:07 pm
I felt that initially. But I decided not to let the enemy steal the joy of this time of year for Christians. So church helps a lot! I have two small children. I have to keep a smile on my face and the Christmas cheer for them, no matter how I am feeling inside. That being said, I have been shopping black way more than ever before, and will be attending the March on Washington tomorrow, with my children.
Alice says:
December 12, 2014, 11:30 pm
I haven't felt the holiday spirit at all. And I've struggled to post anything about them because it doesn't feel significant/worth it/appropriate. I've been super into self-care and doing everything I can to try and stay afloat, but it's hard.
Lakitha says:
December 13, 2014, 6:17 pm
Afrobella, I thought that I was the only person feeling odd this holiday season. New York is in turmoil regarding the Eric garner case. I have been feeling down this holiday season. The political turmoil in this country is disheartening especially now since the release of the CIA reports. Prayer is the only thing that can help us in these times.
Paha says:
December 14, 2014, 12:12 pm
I stopped celebrating holidays years ago but it has always amazed and amused me that people wait and designate this holiday as the time to be kind and generous and compassionate. Poverty and pain are ongoing conditions and the spirit of the holiday should be a 365 day effort. So while I applaud your reflection, I hope that we would all take the energy that we pour into this one month and spread it out during the entire year.
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