Beauty vlogger Jai Marii.
By Samantha Callender for Essence.com

While many Black women across the globe are embracing their natural kinky and coily texture, there is one thing that they still want to be sleek and straight: their edges. Of course there are no shortage of edge control options (this one by Creme of Nature is a favorite), but many are finding that they need a little extra assistance. Recently, many hair YouTubers have taken to social media to showcase how they achieve laid edges beyond edge control with relaxing or texlaxing.

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Benny Harlem- Source: Guinness World Record
 By Winnie G.
Benny Harlem is a father, teacher, entrepreneur, model and now a Guinness World record holder. He first broke the internet with stunning photos of his amazing natural hair together with his daughter’s equally stunning natural hair. He’ll be in the Guinness World Book of Records 2018 for having the highest high top fade measuring 20.5 inches (52 cm) high.

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A high top fade, also written as hi-top fade, is a haircut that peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990’s but has made a comeback in the past few years. It involves cutting off the hair on the sides or keeping it short while the hair at the top of the head is kept long. However, most people keep it at an average height of 2 to 3 inches. It’s difficult to imagine having a higher length than that stay upright. However, Benny has managed to do just that. His high top fade is 20.5 inches high. Achieving this is not an easy task. As a matter of fact, it takes Benny up to two hours to comb and shape his hair.

Benny believes that having a healthy mind, body and spirit are what has made his hair reach this point. The Los Angeles dad maintains a simple routine of hydrating and styling his hair on a daily basis. His family has not been left behind, with his wife and daughter also taking good care of their natural hair. The three of them use homemade shampoos and hair care products. These products are prepared using pure, unprocessed ingredients such as berries and coconuts. Apart from the outer hair care, Benny takes care of his overall health by eating a clean diet and drinking lots of water to keep the hair well-nourished from the inside.

Benny with his wife and daughter
Benny’s journey began at a very young age. He views his hair as a form of art. His daughter, Jaxyn, has also followed her father’s footsteps by using her hair as a form of expression. Benny started posting photos of his natural hair to inspire people of all cultures to love themselves for who they are and appreciate their culture. He is also planning to develop a hair care system to the public so that more people can learn how to take care of their natural hair or grow back fresh hair. So far, he has a following of over 382,000 followers on Instagram and the numbers keep increasing by the day.

Share your thoughts on Benny's fade? 


Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her on yourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com.

By Erickka Sy Savané
“You look sexy!” exclaims my neighbor to my 6-year-old daughter.
I laugh uncomfortably because though I know she’s showing some knee, I’d never call her sexy. She’s cute. Kids are cute. They’re not doing anything to warrant sexual attention. My daughter looks at me confused because we’ve had conversations about the word “sexy” in the past, and I tell her that it’s only for adults. Now she’s wondering if she is sexy because that’s what the neighbor just told her.
Once she leaves, I immediately begin lecturing my daughter on how people are different, but “sexy” is still a word that should never be used on kids.

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A few hours later, I’m still thinking about it, wondering if I should say something to my neighbor. The truth is, I work hard to keep my daughter in a kid’s world. I don’t let her watch Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse because Barbie is dating Ken, and little girls don’t need to be drug into the dating world. She doesn’t watch or play with Monster’s High dolls because those girls wear miniskirts and shoes with 5-inch heels. I’m team Doc McStuffins all day because she’s a 6-year-old doctor who is not even thinking about dating or wearing clothes that make her look “sexy.” When I think of my neighbor getting another opportunity to plant the sex seed in her brain, I start breaking out in hives.

Should I tell my neighbor it’s inappropriate to call my daughter sexy? I ask psychologist Dr. Kristin Carothers, the following day via email.

After confirming that kids should NOT be called sexy—”We don’t want to encourage children to be sexual beings before it is developmentally appropriate because they may become confused about the word and meaning”—she tells me that I should definitely speak up if I don’t like the term she’s using to describe my kid.

“It might be helpful to provide the person with more appropriate terms that you prefer such as cute, beautiful or pretty that could convey the meaning for children and do not have sexual overtones,” Dr. Carothers said.

That makes a lot of sense. I suppose the real issue is not whether I should speak up or not—of course I should, especially since this woman spends time with my kids when I’m running late and can’t pick them up from school on time—it’s about not wanting to hurt her feelings. I’m thinking that in her world—we’re talking about a mom of five in her early 50s who started having kids when she was just 13 years old—calling a kid “sexy” is a compliment. Perhaps she grew up being called sexy herself.

A few days later, when my neighbor and I were walking home from dropping our kids off at school, I bring up the subject.

“You know when you called my daughter ‘sexy’ the other day?”
She nods.
“Well, I like words like pretty and cute. I don’t want her thinking about being sexy at this age.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” she says, getting a little defensive. “That’s just how we talk. I call my grandson sexy all the time, and he’s 2.”
“Yeah, I know,” I answer as casually as possible. “But we’re all different and that’s just how I feel.”
“Okay,” she says, and we walk the rest of the way home in silence.

Were her feelings hurt? Maybe. But as a mom, my first commitment is always to my kids.

Do you think it's appropriate to call kids sexy?  

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

By Mwabi Kaira

A week before Thanksgiving in 2014, we celebrated my brother and sister’s joint birthdays with a party. Somewhere between the dancing, the drinks and cutting the cake, my big sister casually mentioned that she hadn’t been feeling well and google had told her that she probably had colon cancer.  I rolled my eyes and thought she was being dramatic.  Everybody knows that Doctors despise google and the self-diagnosis it brings.  I told her to make the appointment to ease her fears and I would accompany her.  At 41 it was an uphill battle to get a colonoscopy scheduled because she was young and female.  Routine screenings are not recommended for adults under 50 and colon cancer has been more common in males historically.  A month later, I was in the waiting room scrolling my timelines when the doctor came out to inform me of the cancer he had found in my sister’s colon and the surgery he had to perform right away.  She had Stage 3 colon cancer.


After the surgery we got a crash course in all things cancer; what it was, how it was caused, and what we should expect. The questions were endless. Doctors were baffled that we did not have a family history of any cancer at all and that my sister was African-American and female. These were all things they had not seen at their practice.

As I drove her home from the hospital days after her surgery that December, she asked me to stop at her nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. I obliged and recognized her fight; she refused to go home and get under the covers and let this cancer diagnosis take over her life. My sister begun her 12 rounds of chemotherapy and ended her treatment with radiation. We rang the bell to celebrate her last chemo in July 2015. She was in remission in September and the family along with her three kids rejoiced. However, she started feeling not so well again in December and ended up in the ER New Year’s Eve. The cancer was back and this time it was stage 4 rectal cancer.

My sister did not look sickly and kept her lashes, brows and face beat at all times. She was self-employed and continued to work. You could not tell she had stage 4 cancer. I didn't get worried until December 2016 when she started slowing down, and could barely eat two bites before feeling full. She was exhausted all the time and it was the beginning of her deterioration. Months of being in and out of the hospital followed.

I was getting an oil change the morning of August 9 and planned on going to the hospital that evening after work when 'Good Morning America' was on in the waiting room of the car dealership. I stopped flipping through the magazine in my hands when I heard them say colon and rectal cancer were on the rise in young women. Not even 3 years prior my sister was a rarity with her diagnosis and now it was so prevalent in young women that a story was being done on it. I made a mental note to look it up later and went to work. I was at work for barely an hour and felt a tugging to leave and be by my sister’s side in the hospital. What greeted me was a scene I will never forget and can still replay. My sister, Donna, took her last breath during the morning hours of August 10, 2017 with her family by side. She had just turned 44.

Colorectal cancer is still low in people under 55 but a study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that cancer is increasing among millennials and those born circa 1990 have nearly double the risk for colon cancer and quadruple the risk for rectal cancer compared to those born circa 1950. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your doctor and ask for a colonoscopy:

Dark Blood in Your Stool

Don’t be alarmed from bright red blood as you wipe because that could be from straining or a small hemorrhoid but large maroon or black-tinged blood are cause for concern because they would indicate bleeding further up the colon.

A Change in Your Bowel Habits
My sister noticed that she was going more frequently and that alerted her to pay attention. For some this could be noticing more diarrhea or constipation. If you have done nothing different to your diet and suddenly see changes, pay attention.

Persistent Abdominal Discomfort

If you notice more frequent cramps, gas or pain in your stomach that lasts for days and over the counter medicine doesn’t cure, pay attention.

Using the Bathroom but Still Feeling Full
If you go to the bathroom and still feel like you need to go then this is a sign that something is not right.

Weakness and Fatigue
We all feel lethargic some days but if you’re feeling weak and exhausted and have some of the symptoms above, there could be a problem.

Unintended Weight Loss
We all want our clothes to fit a little looser but if you have very loose clothes in a short period by unintended weight loss paired with some symptoms above, there could be a problem.

How often do you listen to your body?

Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

Director Nzingha Sterwart at the 17th Annual Image Awards
By Erickka Sy Savané

 “For the longest time, when I would show up places people would expect to see an Asian woman, not a black man,” says my friend Sekou, one day in conversation. It's been argued for years that the ancient Japanese migrated from Africa, so why not? Now I'm thinking about African Americans with African names, and how their experience must differ from the rest of us. I do a Google search to read up on the topic and there's nada. Guess I gotta research it myself...

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SekouWrites
"Early on, I didn't know that my name was different," says Sekou. “At the private black school I went to in Boston, we sang the black national anthem, celebrated Kwanzaa and everyone had names like Nzingha and Kumba.” His world got turned upside down when he found himself at an all black middle school in Atlanta where teasing him was a favorite pastime.
Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Sekou
Say Who?!
It got so bad that he asked his teacher if she could start calling him by his middle name. The teacher told his mom and then it became a big deal, so the name change never happened, but it was ultimately good because things shifted again by high school. Now at an international school, Sekou recalls his name being a source of fascination. He found himself explaining that it means ‘scholarly’ or ‘fighter,’ depending on the translation, and he also got to talk about Ahmed Sekou Toure, the President of Guinea. For the first time in his life, he felt ‘name envy’ by other students. By college, he attended the historically black Morehouse, where there were Sekous around every corner, including a direct relative of Ahmed Sekou Toure! Looking back though, would he give his kid an African name? I ask him.

"Yes, because it's important to have a name that means something," he says. "It gives the person a level of gravitas." 

If an African name can imbue someone with a certain sense of gravitas, imagine if your name is actually Africa. Such is the case with Africa Angel Martin, who runs the kitchen at my daughter’s preschool, and has gravitas by the ton. “My father, who was a black panther, let me know from an early age that I’m a woman of culture, and I have an image to uphold no matter what my age,” says Africa, now in her early 40s. Like Sekou, she was also teased growing up. “I found that having the name Africa caused me to be rebellious, because I was always ready to come back at anyone who was trying to antagonize me.”

Ultimately, it did affect how she felt about the name, and even though she knew people were just being ignorant, she chose not to give an African name to her daughter. “To get teased like that so young can cause you to feel like a little mouse in a corner. I didn't want her to go through that.”

So today, how does she feel about the name? “Oh, I feel special. I feel unique. I know that I'm a Queen and the name carries a lot of power,” says Africa.

Next, I reach out to a woman I met a few years ago, "Love By The 10th Date" director Nzingha Stewart. Turns out, she didn’t grow up with the name, she chose it some 20 years ago after a trip to Senegal where she visited 'the point of no return’ in Goree Island.

“The tour guide explained that once you crossed this line you were property and couldn’t have your name anymore. If anybody called you by that name, their tongue would be cut out,” explains Nzingha. “The fact that they took away these people’s identity was so heart-wrenching to me that I changed my name to honor them.” She was eighteen.

“It means ‘from the water,’ and since I’m a water sign and from Jamaica, it felt right. Also, there’s the story of Queen Nzingha and how she fought the Portuguese and kept Angolans from getting taken as slaves. It’s awesome!”

And how did her family react? I'm curious to know.

"My mom’s side was much better with it, my dad’s side wouldn’t call me Nzingha for a very long time, my grandmother still doesn't, and my father calls me by a nickname. Friends learned to use Nzingha once I stopped responding to anything else," she says. "More than anything, I love that it gives me an opportunity to educate people about how systematic the programming of slavery was."

Ultimately, what I learned about African Americans with African names is that the saying is true, "behind every name there is a story."

Are you an African American with an African name?

Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or