Writing

A Love Letter to Shea Butter

A heartfelt love note to a vital component of black hair and self care—raw shea butter. Light the candles. Cue the violins.

Dear Sista Shea,


You’ve been apart of my heritage and household for longer than I’ve known, yet I’ve only become truly acquainted with you about six years ago. It was when I went natural, and I suddenly became more aware of what goes in and on my body and how my body reacts to it. It was when I started to consciously practice self love and self care.

Self care. It’s one of many buzzwords that rose in popularity in recent years. Simply put, it is the act of caring, catering to and comforting oneself in times of emotional and mental need. I’ve needed to do this more often lately because sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart: police brutality against black people, the acquittal of offenders in controversial cases, and, most recently, the presidency of Donald Trump. We have to take care of our minds, hearts, and bodies, and thus, one another.

For me, self care varies from cooking myself a delicious, healthy meal to reading a good book to going on a mindful walk and treating myself to a cup of tea. It means logging off of social media, meditating, stretching or calling a friend.

It means buying all natural soaps and hair products because it eases my senses and my body. It also means washing and styling my hair, which, as a natural hair mama, can take several hours, but I find it exciting because I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my hair. It is an intimate, personal activity filled with aromatic essential oils, scalp massages and creamy conditioners.

And you, shea butter, have played a key role in my self care routines. As you know, I care a lot about maintaining smooth, clear skin and growing strong, healthy hair. You’ve been helping me get closer to these goals.

Growing up, I’ve suffered from all kinds of skin issues. Eczema has plagued my body, ranging from itchy, scaly spots to more severe symptoms. I am susceptible to boils in the winter (I know, gross!) and essentially, I have dry, sensitive skin. But with you, shea butter, I’ve found a cure to these dilemmas.

You smooth the cracks of my heels, you appease the ash on my elbows. My lips drink your moisture, my curls cuddle with your softness. With you, my body awakens: glowing, glad, grateful.

And when you meet the likes of coconut, almond, avocado, extra virgin or vitamin E oil, your benefits multiply in number. With the whip of my wand (a long spoon) and the addition of these essential oils, you transform into a supple, buttery cream that glides easily between my fingers and kisses the grooves of my curls. You become a still, golden river.

No more stark white lotions with ingredients I can’t pronounce—I’m on my DIY body creme flow, and you’re the star. No more overpriced lip balms—err, wait! I still like those! But I make sure you’re the main ingredient. And my soap bars contain you as well. You are with me all day, in many ways.

Yet, there is another reason why I feel connected to you. You are the treasure from my family’s homeland, Ghana. And although I haven’t been home yet, I feel like I have a piece of my roots every time my grandmother returns to the States with hunky globes of you. You are the bridge that connects me to the land I dream of.

And it’s not only I you've touched. There’s natural haired people far and wide who have been blessed by your wonder. They do tutorials about you, have started skin and hair care lines in your honor. You’ve helped us realize a new level of our potential, have empowered us to embrace our kinks, our melanin, our now unchapped lips.

Because when your skin is smooth, your hair is poppin, your mind and body softened, you can go about your day with more confidence and stride. Then you can focus on other important things as well: like work, creativity and social justice. You bring out the best in me, and thus I can walk into the world as my best self.

Love always,

Sista boo

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.



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