By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

 Continue
To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

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 ErickkaSySavane.com


 By Erickka Sy Savané

Let’s face it, some questions are just taboo. If you’ve ever asked a woman, “How many months are you?” when she wasn’t even pregnant then you know there aren’t enough rocks to crawl under. It’s right up there with “Is that your grandchild?” when it’s actually the person’s kid.
I’ve been both the asker and the one asked, and it can suck on both ends. Usually, the person asking is just excited and can’t wait to share in the big news, but for the person who isn’t pregnant, well, it’s not so cool. Does any woman want to look pregnant when she is not?

 Continue
To be on the safe side, common sense says that asking someone if they are pregnant is a no-no unless they are being transported to the hospital delivery room because it’s just not worth the embarrassment of being wrong. Most would argue that it’s none of your well-meaning business anyway. If a person wants you to know they will tell you. Actress Tia Mowry has been very vocal about the negative impact of the media’s constant speculation that she is pregnant and equates it to a form of body shaming. At one point she felt compelled to share this message on Instagram.
But the truth is nothing is ever so black and white, and there are only a few occasions when–dare I say it–it’s okay to ask. Here are some…

1. When she’s such a good friend that even if she isn’t pregnant you can both have a good laugh. When one of my besties asked me if I was preggers and I definitely wasn’t, I didn’t get mad, sad or offended. If anything, it was an indication to go easy on the Cheese Puffs. Seriously, if your homegirls can’t ask you anything then maybe you need to re-evaluate the friendship.

2. You want to be mean. True story, Sandy was just a few weeks into a relationship with her man when they happened upon his ex-girlfriend at a party.  “Congratulations!” she said enthusiastically.
“For what?” asked Sandy.
“The baby!” said his ex, pointing to her belly, with a wicked smile.

3. You’re her husband or boyfriend. Not every woman is ready to announce a pregnancy even to the person she loves and some women don’t even know that they are pregnant, like in the case of Carol who hadn’t lost the weight from her first baby so a big belly was no biggie. It took her husband insisting on her taking a test for them to discover that she was actually six months. The same thing happened to my mom who had my brother and then me just 10 months later. She didn’t find out I was coming until she was a full nine months. Perhaps if one of her sisters had said, “Hmmm…you look pregnant,” she would have found out sooner.

4. When the person is constantly sick, tired and/or moody. Nausea, vomiting, and threatening to stab you for showing up 10 minutes late to lunch are all indications that a person might be with child. Sooooo, for your own safety, you might wanna ask in your sweetest voice, “Hey, do you think you’re pregnant?”

Are there any instances when you think it’s okay to ask a woman if she's pregnant?

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 ErickkaSySavane.com

Runners in Berlin #berlinblackish2017
By Mwabi Kaira

It was winter 2012 and I had my fuzzy slippers on, sipping on a cup of tea with my feet up flipping through my copy of Essence magazine when I read something about Black women runners. I took a mental note and thought one day I’ll run something and went about my day. At the top of the year I met Shonda, my college friend for lunch, and she brought along another friend. Turns out, that friend belonged to the same organization I was reading about; Black Girls Run! I told her I was interested and in March I laced up my tennis shoes and went to my first Black Girls Run! I couldn’t run to the mailbox at the time, but something inside told me I could do this and I listened.

Continue

I was a good runner all the way up until fifth grade when puberty hit, yes I was an early bloomer. I noticed the audience of boys started getting larger at the finish line and that was the end of that for this shy girl. My first run with BGR in 2013 was a struggle...It was 3 miles and I think I only got through a mile and a half because I didn’t get the directions right and instead of getting lost I decided to just go back to my car. And I didn’t run the whole distance. I pushed myself to run a block then walk until I caught my breath before running again. The following week, I went back and was encouraged by the women of BGR to just do my best. I made it past the point I stopped the week prior, so I felt pretty good. I kept going back week-after-week and the consistency paid off; my breathing got controlled as I ran, I found my cadence and eventually I could run the entire 3 miles without stopping. The weekly BGR meet-ups became so much more than about running but about sisterhood and encouragement. Their mantra is “no woman left behind” and these ladies will wait for you no matter what your speed is. The faster ladies will finish the route and actually come back and run beside you till you finish and all the women are waiting with high fives and cheers of good job. These ladies taught me what running shoes to buy, what kind of compression pants and sports bra to get, and had running tips. I ran my first 5K that May and my first 10K that October. I couldn’t believe that I was a runner! No one was more surprised than me when I signed up for my first half marathon and ran it in March 2014.

Mwabi Kaira

The running joke has always been that African-Americans don’t run unless they’re being chased. Running was just not something we did for pleasure. Case in point, in 2011 only 1.6 percent of runners in the United States identified as African-American. But that’s changing.

Ashley Hicks-Rocha and Toni Carey founded Black Girls RUN! in 2009. The movement really took off in 2011 when a group of black women met to run the Publix Half Marathon. BGR offers weekly runs all over the country. Black Men Run followed suit in 2013. All these groups were created with our health in mind; our numbers for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease have always been alarming. Running on a regular basis and controlling what we eat changes these numbers drastically.

Michelle Richardson was almost 300 pounds when she decided to take control of her health and weight. She changed what she ate and started exercising, first taking walks and moving up to jumping rope. As she dropped weight she added running. It was not easy but she kept at it and refused to quit. Michelle says, “I use to be that overweight girl wishing that I could do it. I remember struggling through my first 5K and now here I am with over 120 pounds lost naturally and I have run over 11 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I am so proud of myself and know if I can do it with discipline anyone can.”

Michelle Richardson
Another movement was born in 2016 when Heather King decided to ask other African-Americans to run the Georgia Publix Marathon with her. This is not a popular marathon because it is considered one of the toughest courses. It was the actual course used for the 1996 Olympics. I had several half marathons under my belt and signed up along with 500 others from all over the United States and 3 countries. We trained and made history on March 19, 2017 as Team Take down Publix. We now travel together to run in Berlin, Jamaica, Paris, Miami and wherever there is a race. We encourage each other on the course and party afterwards. We have our elite runners who make record time and break records and we have runners like me who are not fast but cross the finish line in our own time. Even Kevin Hart caught the bug and ran the New York City Marathon on November 5th.

Today, the number of African-American runners has jumped to over 8% and will continue to rise. If you are interested in joining the movement, look up Black Girls RUN! and Black Men Run and meet them for a run. I’m warning you, it might become a habit that will take you to places you never imagined. If you have the desire, we will get you across the finish line.

Are you a runner or have you considered it?

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 at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

Runners in Berlin #berlinblackish2017
By Mwabi Kaira

It was winter 2012 and I had my fuzzy slippers on, sipping on a cup of tea with my feet up flipping through my copy of Essence magazine when I read something about Black women runners. I took a mental note and thought one day I’ll run something and went about my day. At the top of the year I met Shonda, my college friend for lunch, and she brought along another friend. Turns out, that friend belonged to the same organization I was reading about; Black Girls Run! I told her I was interested and in March I laced up my tennis shoes and went to my first Black Girls Run! I couldn’t run to the mailbox at the time, but something inside told me I could do this and I listened.

Continue

I was a good runner all the way up until fifth grade when puberty hit, yes I was an early bloomer. I noticed the audience of boys started getting larger at the finish line and that was the end of that for this shy girl. My first run with BGR in 2013 was a struggle...It was 3 miles and I think I only got through a mile and a half because I didn’t get the directions right and instead of getting lost I decided to just go back to my car. And I didn’t run the whole distance. I pushed myself to run a block then walk until I caught my breath before running again. The following week, I went back and was encouraged by the women of BGR to just do my best. I made it past the point I stopped the week prior, so I felt pretty good. I kept going back week-after-week and the consistency paid off; my breathing got controlled as I ran, I found my cadence and eventually I could run the entire 3 miles without stopping. The weekly BGR meet-ups became so much more than about running but about sisterhood and encouragement. Their mantra is “no woman left behind” and these ladies will wait for you no matter what your speed is. The faster ladies will finish the route and actually come back and run beside you till you finish and all the women are waiting with high fives and cheers of good job. These ladies taught me what running shoes to buy, what kind of compression pants and sports bra to get, and had running tips. I ran my first 5K that May and my first 10K that October. I couldn’t believe that I was a runner! No one was more surprised than me when I signed up for my first half marathon and ran it in March 2014.

Mwabi Kaira

The running joke has always been that African-Americans don’t run unless they’re being chased. Running was just not something we did for pleasure. Case in point, in 2011 only 1.6 percent of runners in the United States identified as African-American. But that’s changing.

Ashley Hicks-Rocha and Toni Carey founded Black Girls RUN! in 2009. The movement really took off in 2011 when a group of black women met to run the Publix Half Marathon. BGR offers weekly runs all over the country. Black Men Run followed suit in 2013. All these groups were created with our health in mind; our numbers for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease have always been alarming. Running on a regular basis and controlling what we eat changes these numbers drastically.

Michelle Richardson was almost 300 pounds when she decided to take control of her health and weight. She changed what she ate and started exercising, first taking walks and moving up to jumping rope. As she dropped weight she added running. It was not easy but she kept at it and refused to quit. Michelle says, “I use to be that overweight girl wishing that I could do it. I remember struggling through my first 5K and now here I am with over 120 pounds lost naturally and I have run over 11 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I am so proud of myself and know if I can do it with discipline anyone can.”

Michelle Richardson
Another movement was born in 2016 when Heather King decided to ask other African-Americans to run the Georgia Publix Marathon with her. This is not a popular marathon because it is considered one of the toughest courses. It was the actual course used for the 1996 Olympics. I had several half marathons under my belt and signed up along with 500 others from all over the United States and 3 countries. We trained and made history on March 19, 2017 as Team Take down Publix. We now travel together to run in Berlin, Jamaica, Paris, Miami and wherever there is a race. We encourage each other on the course and party afterwards. We have our elite runners who make record time and break records and we have runners like me who are not fast but cross the finish line in our own time. Even Kevin Hart caught the bug and ran the New York City Marathon on November 5th.

Today, the number of African-American runners has jumped to over 8% and will continue to rise. If you are interested in joining the movement, look up Black Girls RUN! and Black Men Run and meet them for a run. I’m warning you, it might become a habit that will take you to places you never imagined. If you have the desire, we will get you across the finish line.

Are you a runner or have you considered it?

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 at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

By Veronica Wells

When I was first hired on at MadameNoire, I quickly learned that if we needed a traffic boost, all I had to do was write something about hair. It got to the point where I started feeling like I wrote, almost exclusively about hair. And eventually, I got burnt out. As a result, I vowed that I would no longer spend my days writing about something so “trivial.” I pulled a Solange. I said I wasn’t talking about no damn hair no mo only to continue talking about hair; Solange in the single from A Seat At The Table and me by writing for this Black women’s publication that focuses on our hair.

Continue
It’s unavoidable. Not to mention the conversations surrounding our hair are rather fascinating. Like this picture of Shannon Brown and his wife, singer Monica, taken at rapper Gucci and Keyshia Kaoir’s wedding.

Singer Monica and husband Shannon Brown
If you see a beautiful, Black couple in love, you are nothing like the people in The Shade Room who used this series of photos as an opportunity to discuss Shannon’s cornrows. People, mostly women, clowned them, talking about everything from the style being outdated and juvenile to the length of the braids and how he had them tucked under one another.

I didn’t like Shannon’s hair either. But since cornrows were the go-to style of my adolescence, I wasn’t so quick to dismiss it as played out. And I thought the conversation, while hilarious, was a bit mean-spirited. After all, nothing says Black hair across the diaspora like cornrows. It’s unique. It’s ours and I don’t know if we should be so quick to write it off.

Last week, the internet was in an uproar about a J. Crew/Madewell ad featuring Dominican model Mari Henny Pasible. Everyone swore that J.Crew had dropped the ball in their incapability to hire a stylist who knew what to do with Black hair. I mean people were outraged, making jokes about wanting to fight the clothing company for allowing this Black woman to look “bad,” in a nationally disseminated ad campaign.
Model Mari Henny Pasible J. Crew
The whole J. Crew discussion reminded me of another one I had with real friends--or friends of friends rather. In a moment of candid conversation, they asked me my advice on what to do with a friend who was wearing her natural hair in a way they deemed “unkempt.” With genuine concern, they said, “I mean, I’m all for her embracing her natural texture but it needs to be styled differently. Why can’t she do something else with it?”

My response to them was something like the one the J. Crew model eventually offered. Both were looks the friend and the model had readily embraced and were happy to showcase. There is no “right” way to be natural.

We saw a similar discussion play out with Beyoncé and the way she let Blue Ivy wear her hair. We saw it in the comments issued by Isaiah Washington and Tyrese when they encouraged Black women to stop wearing weaves and fake hair, and with the everyday Black men who encouraged one Black woman to put her wig back on.

 
Nosugarnocreammagazine instagram
When I first started thinking about the very story you’re reading right now, it was two separate topics. Why Black women believed cornrows were over and why men like Tyrese and Isaiah felt they had the right to tell us how to wear our hair. But it’s bigger than that.

As a community, we take an almost unhealthy interest and concern in the ways in which other Black people wear their own hair. Rarely, as a community do we stop with “I don’t like her hair” or “I don’t like his hair.” There is an entire dissertation why the way someone has chosen to wear their hair is “not right.” When I was considering the reasons for this phenomenon, I didn’t have to think too hard. For Black folk, there is the burden in the belief that the way we wear our hair says something about not only our personalities but our philosophies. There are thoughts that wearing “fake” hair means you don’t love yourself or embrace your Black features. There are people who will argue that it’s deceptive.

But more than anything, the reason Black folk are so concerned about what other people are doing with their Black hair is largely based on respectability politics. Beyond just a style or a preference, for centuries many Black folk believed that if we didn’t wear our hair in ways that were similar to or appealed to White people we were only going to be allowed to get so far in life. It was the reason my mother told me after I’d gone natural, to buy a wig for job interviews. It’s the reason that Wendy Williams said Viola Davis’ natural hair wasn’t appropriate for the red carpet. It’s the reason HBCUs forbid certain hairstyles in their business schools. And the reason Steve Perry and Steve Harvey applauded a group of young, Black men who made the decision to cut off their locs, braids and fros in favor of a look that was connected to the “aesthetics of success.” Whose aesthetic? Furthermore, what type of success is there to be had when you have to mask your cultural or racial identity to attain it?

There are times when we’re judging, commenting, clowning, and policing one another’s hair for the sake of coolness and style. As a people who invented style and embody cool, that will always be the case. But more concerning are the times when the ownership we take over one another’s hair is clearly our own grappling with fully accepting Black hair. For so many of us there is still hesitancy in accepting Black looks that don’t adhere to certain Eurocentric beauty standards (i.e. perfectly slicked edges, length minimums, texture preferences). The real tragedy in what we’ve been convinced to think of ourselves and our features, whether through images, representation, or oppression, is that even when White folks aren’t even thinking about dismissing or denigrating our hair, we do it to ourselves.

Why do you believe we 'police' each other's hair so much?

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.