I grew inspired by the recent news of an anonymous (smart move) Mega Millions winner in South Carolina who finally claimed his/her record-breaking $877 million dollar prize. Originally valued at 1.5 BILLION (before Uncle Sam feverishly started rubbing his hands together like someone trying to keep warm), it took the individual nearly 5 months to step forward, presumably getting their affairs in order (ie; retaining an attorney/multiple accountants, breaking down bill payments, possibly setting up college funds for kids/grandkids, charity donations, investments, business ventures, future vacation plans, purchases, and most important, how much to send MY way). Personally, I think the whole lottery system is a joke; I certainly have my suspicions and will usually not waste my time (especially when the jackpot reaches astronomical numbers), BUT, that doesn't stop me from occasionally buying a modest scratch-off ticket (I prefer realistic opportunities over nonsensical odds). Besides, why in the world would ANYONE need 877 million dollars?! Give me a chance at winning $5000/week with a 'Win for Life' scratch-off and I'd be over the moon! (it will eventually happen, you heard it here first).
In the meantime, I'll settle for my big $10 prize!🎉🎉 Nevermind that I broke even, spending exactly $10 on the damn ticket 😐. A win is a win. Glass half full.
AJ Walker Takes A Leap
Admittedly, I am not much of a 'news' guy; I'd finally decided to take a stand. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up watching the news - around the clock - eventually growing numb to the countless stories of random shootings and inaccurate weather reports. Enough was enough. Yes, it was tough parting ways with some of my favorite anchors, weather/traffic girls, but something had to give. Through the years, I'd question the appearance of many news personalities, wondering why so many looked young, yet appeared conservative in their head shots (clean shaven, side-parted hair, fades, etc). In recent years, anchors/reporters have branched out, with men growing 5 o'clock shadows, and women becoming more daring with their wardrobes. Yet, many of the hairstyles remained traditional. It's almost like a happy medium:
Hey, young world, look at me, I can wear cool clothes too... with a hairdo resembling a Brady Bunch character....
I understand there's a level of "professionalism" required for news types, but we're living in an age where gossip, the Kardashians, and the latest trends, have masked themselves into hard news. It would behoove us all to see news personality types... well, show a little personality! This is where CBS News 12 West Palm Beach news reporter AJ Walker, wins the award for 'News Reporters Who Get it!'
In what many will find courageous, AJ recently "pushed the envelope" wearing braids on air in honor of her late mother (Hi-five, AJ!). Does her act call for every on-air news personality to tap into their inner Janet Jackson (e.g. Poetic Justice) by sporting braids? Absolutely not. Perhaps this movement allows for more women of color to embrace natural looks instead of what we've grown accustomed to (I long for the day where an accomplished male with a curly afro, small taper and groomed beard is broadcasting LIVE from the New York Stock Exchange offering stock tips). I know their are many more like AJ who share a passion for news, looking to embrace their true self, yet, afraid of the backlash/blackballing from a group of people who wouldn't understand this movement. This is HUGE - not only for television, but culturally, and I wanted to take the time out to acknowledge AJ for her bravery!
A Hairy Situation
I was having a conversation with some weirdo in Cyberworld who promptly stated the following:
"Why TF this man got braids? He's not even mid-life and he's going through a mid-life crisis. Never had braids before and now he gets them when he's about to retire? Men should wear their hair short. He never finished his degree, so he knows nothing BUT basketball."
Uncertain if this was the response of a male or female, but it seemed a bit personal to me, wouldn't you agree?
As someone who has oftentimes experimented with a variety of hairstyles, naturally, I took offense, firing back vigorously. I expressed how Dwyane Wade's sudden choice of style was likely temporary (finding out he was simply paying homage to Allen Iverson, one of the originators of the cornrow style in the NBA, and one of Wade's basketball heroes), concluding with how foolish it was to make such a big deal over nothing - falling on deaf ears, of course. Which leads me to wonder: Why does such a narrative exist and who sets the expiration date on hairstyles?
Wade, who is expected to retire by season's end, just turned 37 years old (only considered old in basketball years), having made over 200 million dollars during his NBA career. Does his pay check make him some immortal completely shielded from criticism? No. But CLEARLY he's in a different league. When your occupation allows for you to regularly shoot hoops, taking summers off to vacation in the South of France - on a Yacht - you have liberty to wear whatever TF hairstyle you want. Traditionally, Wade has always worn a "professional" clean cut, so why would anyone be bothered by his new appearance? Most importantly, how does it affect YOU?
The same case can be made for Jay-Z, who after wearing a low-cut for well over 20 years, decided to finally grow it out for the long-haul (he toyed around with a short afro in recent years) now sporting freeform dreads. Jay-Z turned 49 last December. And you know what? I love it!
Enough of this perception about individuals needing a look of uniformity. That logic is completely asinine. In the words of Lil' Wayne - yup, I'm actually going to quote a rapper here - "long hair, don't care!" Could Lil' Wayne use a new do himself? Well, that goes without saying, but that's besides the point. If your hairline hasn't betrayed you and your mane still has a little oompfh in it, why is it a crime to grow it out? Why is long-hair on men considered 'childish and immature?' I find that once you've become comfortable in your own skin, the opinions of others really don't matter. Honestly! For those of you wanting to grow out your hair, please take heed: This decision doesn't permit you to walk around unkempt. You should absolutely do your best to not come off as a hobo. But neither should you be read the riot act for being open-minded enough to try a new hairstyle.
Are people entitled to feel how they feel? Absolutely. But to question a man's intelligence (and decision on wearing a new 'do) solely on the lack of obtaining a college degree is utter nonsense! There's simply no escaping critics these days, especially the almighty Keyboard Warriors of the internet. But kudos to both men for stepping out of their comfort zones. Women do it often and are commonly celebrated; why aren't the same freedoms given to men. Some will argue, 'it's only hair, what's the big deal?'... my point exactly.