The Ultimate Guide to Black Men’s Hair

After a life of stressing my hairline and waves, I found liberation and power in its unapologetic Blackness

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Photos courtesy of the author

You never forget that first pang of rejection. It’s a feeling akin to taking a medicine ball to the chest, a slap of rubbing alcohol on a freshly cut neckline. You know the vibes. And if you’d regularly rode the yellow bus to my elementary school back in ’92, you would’ve had a front-row seat for my earliest humbling.

Her name was Cassie. Like me, she made a daily commute from a not-so-great school district in Queens, New York, to one with enough textbooks for every student. Our ride was 45 minutes each way — just enough time for some deep dialogues about cartoons or crayons or whatever the hell second graders talk about. One morning, another passenger popped over an adjacent green seat and teased about whether we “liked” each other. …

It only took centuries of systematic oppression, but in 2020, many non-Black Americans finally awoke to the continued legacy of racism in the United States. While some might expect the momentum of that collective revelation to snowball into 2021, writer Maia Niguel Hoskin, Ph.D. has noticed some organizations Whitewashing the movement by proposing New Age methods “as examples of hands-off ways to fight anti-Blackness.” To which we say, LOL.

In her latest piece for ZORA, “Just Stop It With the New-Age, Hands-Off Approach to Fighting Racism,” Hoskin calls out these misguided, unproductive approaches to social justice that seek to avoid actual work at all costs. …

Tomorrow, Donald Trump will vacate his post as president of the United States. And in the wake of his departure, he leaves not only a national mess to be cleaned up by the incoming administration but also his own unresolved controversy—namely, the fallout from the insurrection attempt at the Capitol that he incited earlier this month. Trump has been impeached for a second time, and LEVEL columnist Michael Arceneaux doesn’t want to see his fellow politicians or the (in)justice system go easy on him.

In his latest piece, “Now Is the Perfect Time to Ruin Trump’s Life,” Arceneaux addresses why he doesn’t want to leave 45’s fate to karma. The disgraced president needs to be convicted of every crime of which he’s guilty—on every judiciary level—and barred from ever holding public office again. …

In the upcoming Netflix film Malcolm & Marie, John David Washington and Zendaya masterfully depict a lovers’ quarrel that goes way too far. These two are habitual line-steppers, and their night of heated back-and-forth is a master class in acting—and the do’s and don’ts of how to argue with your significant other.

Ahead of the film’s streaming release on February 5, both thespians (as well as Malcolm & Marie writer and director Sam Levinson) spoke with LEVEL’s own Aliya S. King about the art of fighting fair and how it plays out in their lives on- and off-screen. …

The phrase “protect Black women” has become a mantra this year, a necessary rally cry. And rappers and their respective fans have done little to directly rise to the occasion…

LEVEL Best Man 2020

Queens rapper turned community watchman Anthony Herron Jr. epitomized the phrase ‘Protect Black women’

Anthony Herron Jr. in his car in St. Albans, Queens, New York on November 24, 2020.
Anthony Herron Jr. in his car in St. Albans, Queens, New York on November 24, 2020.
Anthony Herron Jr. in his car in St. Albans, Queens, New York on November 24, 2020. Herron spent many nights in his car in front of Jennifer McLeggan’s house to watch for any potential threats. Photos: Elias Williams for LEVEL

Jennifer McLeggan felt she was all out of options. The 39-year-old single mother and registered nurse had been racially harassed by her neighbor for the three years since she first moved into her Long Island house just outside of Queens, New York. And while the means of intimidation grew more menacing — she says her neighbor brandished a blowtorch and pellet gun, as well as throwing dead squirrels and human feces onto her property — the local police refused to intervene since no physical assault had occurred. …

The iconic whiskey carrier has long been a staple in homes of Black folks everywhere

Crown Royal is beloved by drinkers for what’s in the bottle, as well as its packaging—a soft, velvet bag that has become iconic for the countless ways Black folks choose to repurpose it.

If you’ve ever seen one of these purple bags with gold drawstrings and embroidery, there’s a high chance that it's contained any of the following: loose change, a business card from a local restaurant, sunglasses, a flash drive from 2008, a few nugs of bud, keys, incense sticks, a half-eaten pack of Starburst. Oh, or maybe even a bottle of Crown Royal.

The possibilities are infinite, and they go beyond receptacle purposes—folks have been converting these into quilts, robes, and dusters. Hell, I’m about to order this face mask made from a Crown Royal bag off Etsy, even if its to-be-determined breathability damn near suffocates me. …

The coronavirus pandemic has left the U.S. economy in shambles. And while President-elect Joe Biden has a plan to provide relief to U.S. citizens, some are worried he won’t go…


John Kennedy

Senior Editor, LEVEL

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