Featured Maven :: Literary Maven
A while back I started a “maven” feature to showcase natural’s from all backgrounds and walks of life. I thought it would be cool to learn more about the diversity in the lives that natural’s live. We sometimes get stereotyped as either black power Afrocentric women or earthy, natural everything women. Although that is true for some, it’s not true for everyone. Not only that, but there is diversity among the black power Afrocentric women and the earthy, natural everything women. I want to show the diversity in us all. So without further ado, I present to you, Kimba Azores, Literary Maven.
Name: Kimba Azore
Location: Lafayette, LA
Occupation: Customer Service Analyst for AT&T; Writer & Blogger
How long have you been natural?
I’ve been natural for a little over two years now. I actually big chopped on October 31, 2010, so if we are going by the BC date, my actual 2 year anniversary isn’t until October 31 of this year.
Did you big chop or transition and how did you make that decision?
I transitioned from December 2009 until October 31, 2010. October 31 is my birthday, so I woke up that morning and knew that since I achieved another year of life, it was time to birth the actual healthy growth of my natural hair. I kept toying with the big chop for months prior and I trimmed a lot of my relaxed ends, but on that particular morning—with the excitement of the celebration of my birth fresh in my head—I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut everything off. I had no idea what I was doing!
What made you decide to go natural?
My senior year of college (2003) I went natural by mistake. I washed my hair one day and let it air dry and I like the curls that my relaxed hair made. I just stopped relaxing my hair after that and loved what was going on with my hair. Unconsciously, I was transitioning and had no idea. At the same time, I felt a sense of liberation. I graduated in December 2003 and right around the beginning of the month, I started getting pressured from EVERYONE…I mean EVERYONE…to relax my hair for my graduation. I was young then and I succumbed to the pressure. The moment that I relaxed my hair, that feeling of liberation dwindled. There was always a little piece of that liberation inside of me and it woke up in 2009 when I decided that I wanted to be natural again. I had resources this time and knowledge to learn how to take care of my hair and know what I was doing. I was older and more confident in making my decision. I knew no one would pressure me into turning back, and surprisingly, no one has.
How did your family and friends react to your decision to go natural?
The first time I went natural, I had no support. The second time, everyone welcomed it. I even had family members asking me what they can do to become natural. I’ve received tons of support—even from my father who knows nothing about my hair. The other day he told me my afro was pretty. Of course, I started to cry. LOL.
How has going natural affected your life, way of thinking, etc if at all?
It was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my life. I’ve always been a writer—since the moment I knew how to connect words and hold a pencil—but since becoming natural, my level of creativity has opened up and given me a voice that was dead inside of me for over seven years. I can write poetry and short fiction. I write my blog. People have requested poetry from me for events that they are holding. I am learning how to crochet. I visit museums and obsess over plays and musicals. I am becoming more cultured. Transitioning to natural has not only boosted my self confidence and feeling of liberation; but it opened doors of creativity that I had no idea were closed in the first place.
From a professional standpoint, have you ever had any problems in your career or workplace because of your natural hair?
I work in a call center, so the dress code is very relaxed. From a professional standpoint, a lot of women who I work with have transitioned to natural, so I’ve never had any negative impact for my natural hair decision.
What is the best/worst compliment you have received since going natural?
The best compliment came from my father (like I stated earlier) who knows NOTHING about hair. I had my hair in a big, tangled fro and he took the time to tell me that my hair was pretty.
The worst complements are the instances when people tell me that I have “good hair”. That always bothers me because that language can be used for more harm than good in the natural hair—or just black hair—community. We need to learn how to remove such language from our vocabulary when talking about hair—even if it is meant as a complement. Other people can take that language and run with it…and I’ve seen it happen so many times before.
What is the best and worst thing you have done since going natural?
The best thing was learn how to live my life more holistically. I’m not 100% yet and have a long way to go, but I am equipped with education and resources on how to live more holistically and have a more natural lifestyle all together. Learning how to care for my health will also help me to achieve a healthier head of natural hair.
The worst thing was turning into a product junkie on a budget. I love making, buying, and playing with natural hair products. I love going to hair shows and meetups to obtain hair products. This is definitely an obsession that’s not good to have when you are operating on limited funds. I am trying to seek help…(trying).
Do you have any hobbies or passions that you would like to share with us?
My first love is writing. In college, I changed my major from Mass Communications (with an interest in journalism) to English (Creative Writing) because I wanted to write like people did in the 1920s. I’ve been influenced by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, e.e. cummings, Alan Ginsburg and Nikki Giovanni. I wanted to write poetry for a living. Little did I know, you cannot create a living on that in the 21st century.
I also have a passion for music. I grew up listening to Earth, Wind and Fire and jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. I took voice lessons to learn how to sing jazz music and I often want to emulate some of my favorite singers such as Phyllis Hyman and Anita Baker. No one really knows that I have a set of pipes that actually work. Maybe one day before I get too old, I can use them for something good.
I have an enormous passion for travel and seeing the world. My first international trip was to France…this was on the coat tails of big chopping my hair. This year I saw New York City (surprisingly to attend the International Beauty Show). I am a small town girl, so this was enormous for me. One day, maybe, I can live in a big city…until then; I’ll just travel as much as I can.
My last hobby/passion is food. I love eating out, exploring international cuisine, watching people cook (notice the word watching) and of course, just eating in general. I need to calm down on my food consumption, but it is a viable hobby…it just needs to be controlled.
How did you get interested in these activities?
Writing began by being a book worm as a kid. I read through the whole library. I had an undying passion to be in the library. I wanted to become a librarian (and still do). That constant thirst to read opened up my mind to writing so by natural writer progression; I started writing at 8 or 9 years old.
My passion for music began the same way. I would emulate the voice of Minnie Ripperton, Philip Bailey, Anita Baker or Phyllis Hyman in the middle of the street, at school, in my bedroom, in the kitchen…anywhere I could sing…I would sing. I also couldn’t sleep at night unless I was listening to music. In middle school, I was in little singing groups and played around with my soprano. People thought I was a tall little song bird and enjoyed my singing. It got complicated when I fell in love with jazz music and would just listen to jazz all day long. I would bop…pop…re-bop and scat sentences for people. I was an eccentric little girl but that’s where my passion for music was conceived.
My passion for travel began quite early also. I’ve always wanted to see the world. I hoarded atlases and travel books. I admired writers like Hughes and Hemingway who lived in Paris during some of the most creative times in their careers. I eventually started to learn French and Spanish. I just knew I was going to see everything there is to see about the world. I just knew it.
My food obsession…I mean passion…began when I first fell in love with Greek/Lebanese/North African/Mediterranean food. At first, I hated it. My father introduced it to me when I was little and I detested the way it tasted at the time. Then I started to become a foodie and a vegetarian and noticed that they had delicious meatless options like my favorite food falafel. That opened the doors to all kinds of other ethnic foods that I simply love. Now I have an international palate.
From a career standpoint, what are your interests and are you currently pursuing them?
I eventually want to write for a living. I believe I was given a gift and I am just waiting for an opportunity to come along where I can use it to its entirety. I try to keep myself relevant where writing is concerned and I play with different literary styles. I am more of a poet and I love writing haiku because playing around with imagery to create a tiny piece of literature is a daunting task. I have to say, I am successful with haiku writing but I try to play around with everything to create a denser catalogue of work. I have tons of poetry and short stories that I’ve written that I’ve collected since I was a child. I’ve been published a few times and hopefully I can create a book of poetry and work with an artist to create a visual representation of my work. That is actually one of the biggest goals in life that I wake up and strive for everyday.
Did you meet your other half while you were natural? If not, how did they react to your decision?
I did meet my other half while I was natural…but guess what…my other half is a hair stylist who specializes in chemical services such as relaxers and hair coloring. When I found out what he did for a living, I was shocked that he was attracted to me. When I got to know him, I learned that he was more afrocentric than I was and that his career was different than his mindset. He is slowly transitioning into performing natural hair services right now. We as a team have gone to natural hair events, have been a part in the creation of a natural hair event and hopefully we can continue to work together to educate and inspire other people to become/stay natural.
How has their reaction/attitude changed, if at all, from then until now?
He has single-handedly been one of the biggest sources of support that I’ve had during my natural hair journey. Sometimes he does my hair. He has helped me to write my natural hair blog. He promotes my blog to his clientele, strangers on the street, or anyone he sees with a natural head of hair. His attitude has been enormous in the growth of my blog and natural hair journey as well.
Kimba is a girl after my own heart! She loves to travel and eat international cuisine, what? We need to get together and take a trip together! Be sure to check her out around the web:
Kimba’s natural hair blog: www.fleurdecurl.com
Kimba’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/fleurdecurl
Kimba’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/fleurdecurl
Stay tuned for more with Kimba. As an artist, I will be featuring some of her writings in an upcoming post.