Beauty vlogger Jai Marii.
By Samantha Callender for

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.



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 at
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By Tee Elle 

I had a habit of establishing myself as a crucial team-player on the job. It was usually unintentional, though. I liked finding ways to make standard processes easier because extra steps annoyed me and I liked working on different projects to break up the boredom that came with crunching monthly sales figures. But I also think an even deeper part had to do with the idea that I had something to prove. Black women are more than capable. We’re not catty and difficult on the job. We get ish done and we can run things better than the white male who earns an average of $21,001 more than we do per year. I wanted those coins. And the maximum annual bonus, too. But my work ethic told my colleagues and upper management a story that was completely different from the one I crafted. 
My last job was pretty flexible. Management allowed us to occasionally telecommute, which meant it didn’t always make sense to use our accrued vacation days because I could log in once or twice during the day, answer emails and say I technically worked. I could save my accrued hours for later. Plus our team became highly visible because we could produce quality reports with minimal turnaround. Soon marketing and sales were reaching out with special requests and I’d filter them, either doing them myself or assigning them to someone else on my team.

We were extremely busy, which wasn’t really a problem because I bored easily and I was quick. The issue was I was tired because I didn’t factor in any real downtime.
I found myself listening to my coworker’s tales about their Caribbean cruises and international excursions. I went home and imbibed on their flavored rums and nibbled on their fine chocolates but I didn’t have any stories to share of my own, other than that time my friends and I drove across the border into Tijuana and a member of the bar staff forced gold tequila down my throat or the time my girls and I cruised from Los Angeles through the desert at 100+ miles per hour and had to exchange the rental car by the time we arrived in Vegas. Then I realized those stories weren’t recent.
What I had done was taken a “mental health day” here and there, which really wasn’t one because I still worked to avoid playing catch-up when I returned to the office. But I hadn’t taken a vacation in over four years! It made me wonder how in the world everyone else could take one twice per year.

I got my answer when I went out on short-term disability to recover from surgery. I returned home the next day and had settled in my bed to binge-watch the first season of the The Wire. My cell was on my nightstand. I heard the indicator for text messaging and assumed it was another friend or family member checking to see if I needed anything. I picked it up and read it.

“Where did you save the December report?”

For the first time I didn’t reply. In fact I didn’t answer a work-related text for the following eight weeks. I learned no one really cared about my well-being and for several years, I sent the message that I didn’t care about my well-being, either.

I neglected to set appropriate boundaries and allowed my work life to invade my personal space. I showed everyone I worked with that not only was I irreplaceable, but I was also always available even when I’m resting in discomfort after major surgery.

It’s rather difficult to change the narrative once you’ve already written the words. My peers still relied on the fact that I’d always be there, that I’d eventually relent and respond to every single request once I was mobile. I did not. None of it was worth the slight raise or the bonus or my sanity. I resigned less than a year from my return to work and I have yet to return to traditional employment.
I recently listened to an episode of the ‘My Taught You’ podcast where host and CurlBox founder Myleik Teele interviewed InStyle magazine’s fashion and beauty editor-at-large Kahlana Barfield-Brown about her rise to her current position. Kahlana shared her story of how she once filled in for an assistant and proved herself to be more efficient during the assistant’s absence. The assistant was soon fired and Kahlana landed the role.
“Never take a two-week vacation,” Kahlana advised. “You’re just giving someone an opportunity to take your job.”
The moral of her story was to take a day at the beginning or end of a long weekend, if you must, but never stay gone long enough to give someone else the opportunity to do your job better than you can.
But my morals are now a little bit different and should I ever return to corporate America, I’m applying them. I can do a stellar job and simultaneously take full advantage of my time off. If the person who assumes my job for a week can do it better, she can have it. We all need a break to regroup. I’m still going to take a real vacation.

Do you have a healthy work/life balance?

Tee Elle is an east-coast storyteller hoping for her big break west. Her words have been published on xoNecole and Clutch magazine, you can also follow her on Twitter and the blog. When she’s not writing or stalking social media, find her reading a great book, binge-watching reality TV, or pretending to be the next winner of Bravo’s Top Chef.

Erickka Sy Savané
A story my girlfriend shared with me the other day about a phone conversation with her mom…
“Tell me what you want from the house when I go.”
“Go where?” Bree said to her mom.
“You know, when I die.”
“Die? What’s wrong?? Are you sick???” Bree panicked.
“No. I just want to be prepared.”
This was weird.
“I can’t, ma, just write down whatever you think I’d like.”
“I don’t know what you’d like because I don’t know you like that.”

Was she serious?
“All the times I’ve tried to get to know you over the years and all you’ve ever done is shut me down. You only came to visit me once in 25 years and that was when I got married, and I had to beg you and pay for your plane ticket. And then there’s the grandchild that you completely forgot about. Now you wanna act like it’s my fault?”

“So it’s my fault?” Bree’s mom said. “Do you remember how you left?”

Whoa. She was bringing that up? They had never spoken about the way she left home. How she had just graduated from high school and had her heart set on becoming a singer- her mother wanted her to go to college. As a compromise, Bree applied to schools with music programs out-of-state, but her mother had her own plans and changed the applications to local colleges in Mississippi where they lived. Bree realized then that the only way she was going to be able to live her own life was by leaving. So one day she bounced, leaving nothing but a note saying that she was heading to New York and would call her when she got settled.
They did eventually talk, but the relationship never recovered.
Her mom turned cold, and Bree came to accept it as the price she had to pay for her independence. Thinking about it today, she can only imagine what she put her mother through. But the truth is, she did what she had to do, and though she never became a big singer, she did get married, became a mom, and lived life her way. Her mom, on the other hand, was still standing in the same spot 25 years later, as salty, and hurt, as the day Bree left. So really who won? There was no need to argue over who was right.

“I’m sorry about the way I left,” Bree apologized.
After a brief silence.
“Okay. Let’s move on,” her mom replied.

Bree's giddiness about mending the relationship with her mom came bursting through the phone as she relayed her story. I met her not long after she made the move to NYC, and over the years, I could see that there was something missing. A mother’s love is like a warm coat in the winter so you know when someone leaves home without it. Maybe this was the start of something new? I couldn't help thinking that 25 years is a long time to be mad. So many beautiful memories they never had. So much pain. I think about what happens when we feel wronged by someone, and how it only hurts us, even if we’re right. My mom used to ask me, “Do you want to be dead right?” when I would walk out in the middle of traffic as soon as the light turned green. As if being right was a protective shield against the pain of getting hit by a car. I think about some of the people that I may owe an apology to and I hope they’re not waiting on it. I hope they’ll talk to me about it or find a way to move on. At the end of the day, we’re all responsible for our own happiness.

Do you have a healthy relationship with your mom?

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