A love letter to my brother

Dear Brother,

I address this letter to my brother. Not “my brother“, as an affectionate term for someone with the same skin color. Not as a “brother“, homie, friend. This love letter is to my little brother, my “Irish twin”, my crib mate, my playmate, my scapegoat, my nuisance, my teammate, my enemy, my partner, my roommate, my HERO.

Long before we were adolescents who couldn’t stand each other we were our parents’ “two under two”. Inseparable. We shared a room that after a few years you got kicked out of and no, it’s not because I tricked you into climbing up on the edge of your crib which resulted in you falling out, it’s because I was the only girl. I don’t think we ever talked about it yet, I wonder at what point you realized that we looked nothing alike. According to mom’s notes in my baby book, I knew that I looked different as early as two years old when I saw someone with skin the color of mine but said that “his hair looks like mine.” Considering that my hair was kept pretty short in a natural fro for the majority of my elementary and middle school years it was not uncommon for people to think that we were brothers rather than brother and sister. Regardless, there wasn’t much we didn’t do together in those early days. In our small community, we stayed surrounded by our family, and our friends, all of which pretty much grew up and stayed the majority of our lives. Some may say that we were in a bubble, living in a rural Pennsylvania town. If people looked at our family strangely I definitely never noticed it, did you? If you did, you never let on.

From the playpen to the prom, I got your back bro

Other than the normal brother/sister, love/hate relationship you never made it seem like you were uncomfortable having me meet your friends or your co-workers. Remember when you came down to visit me at the University of North Carolina? I took you to a club. People thought that you were my boyfriend from out of town and wouldn’t believe you were my brother. We even survived a year as roommates after college living outside of Baltimore in a predominantly Black neighborhood. With the same last name, everyone just assumed we were an interracial couple. You endured Neighborhood kids taunting you, singing “Jungle Fever”. You experienced going shopping, eating in restaurants, even running in an area where you were in the minority, often the only White person there. You have some of the best friends in the world, because like you, they never hesitated, or acted weird, or scared when they came to visit you and hung out with us.

I know we chatted about it at points over the years, how having adopted siblings of different races shaped who you are today. What does it mean to you to have a sister who is Black? How do people in your life react when they find out for the first time? Two kids who grew up in the same house in the same community with the same access to education, resources, experiences, and felt safe and secure. We left for college and went our separate directions and the bubble burst.

When strangers see us they don’t see our history, our stories, or our connection. They make assumptions all based on quick glances and their prejudices.

Parris Island, my brother – The United States Marine.

I call you my hero for many reasons. Mostly because you chose a life of service. As a former Marine, who served in Iraq, and a police officer for the last two decades you’ve put your life on the line to serve and protect other people. Any job that requires you to know how to handle a weapon evokes fear that you are at risk of losing your life every time you go to work. It is because of that that my heart breaks when you get lumped into a group of evil persons who do not share your same regard for public service and justice. While I may be targeted because of the color of my skin, you become a target because of the uniform that you wear. I am scared for people of color, and I’m scared for you. Those fears are not mutually exclusive.

Like me, I know you believe that #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter. You provide leadership to the members of your police department. I know you counsel them on many aspects of their roles in the community including race relations. I am proud to be your sister.

I honor you today. As you celebrate a birthday in one of the most troubling times, you were already given the most amazing gift anyone can receive. Your son. Just two days ago you became a father, and just like we know that hatred is taught so is LOVE, teach him to love, to be fair and just, as our parents taught us. Continue to be the incredible man that I call my brother. I love you. Always.

Your sister,


Happy new father. Happy Birthday!


I can’t lie sometimes I do get bored with curls – okay I am one of those people who gets bored with just about everything eventually.  In any event, when it comes to my hair some days I have more time on my hands or I see something I want to try and I am determined to do it.  Since I began blogging I have used my @justacurlygurl Instagram and Twitter accounts to follow inspiring #girlswithcurls all over the world.  I also have recently turned to YouTube for inspiration and tutorial….yes I know I am late to the game.

Faux Bangs

Experimenting with bobby pins to create faux bangs.

I have always been intrigued by people who have bangs.  I even once bought a wig so I could see what I looked like with bangs, but it was straight hair.  I was always worried if I cut my hair while it was straight that it would look crazy when it was curly.   At one point a couple years ago I let a stylist put long layers in my hair and it almost looked like bangs when I styled it right curly.

3 years ago in MN I had some serious layers which when curly gave the look of  bangs.

3 years ago in MN I had some serious layers which when curly gave the look of bangs.

More recently, I found an alternative way to try faux bangs with my good friends the bobby pins.  Thanks to a random search on YouTube I successfully created bangs on Easter morning when I was celebrating with my bestie and her family.  I think it made an interesting frame to my face.  What do you think?  I may try it again one day with a ponytail.  I think that would be interesting.  Having this blog is certainly getting me to pull the trigger on trying some new things and I must say I like it.  I know I have a tendency to get lazy with my hair especially 2-3 days after washing.  The messy bun (a topic for a future post) is a frequently used style during the week and in the gym.  I am seriously trying to step my hair game up.

It’s funny how being more adventurous with my hair is helping me do the same in life.  As a constant overthinker and analyzer I am often gun shy when it comes to new things.  I resolved to try more and say yes more often in 2015 and so far I am keeping that promise to self.  So bang bang – I will keep pulling that trigger.  I will NOT however be cutting my hair and making bangs permanent anytime soon.  I like it but I didn’t love it.  So I will keep trying new looks.  Let me know what you think!

Taking the plunge

After decades of being asked about my hair I have finally decided to find a forum to share what I have experienced.  So no matter what your curl story is you will hopefully find a way to connect with my curl chronicles or in the least enjoy a good story or two.

First, let me introduce myself, my name is Courtney Marie.  I was adopted when I was only 7 weeks old by two amazing people and grew up with my brothers in a small town in central Pennsylvania.  When I was about 9 I found my birth certificate and discovered I was mixed (according to my paperwork I was “mulatto” – more about that in a future post).  I know very little about my birth parents beyond their age and race.  What I do know is that I grew up in a house and a community where the faces and hair did not match mine.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t struggle in some way shape or form with my hair.  Only the innocent baby you see in this post lived a life free of hair problems.  I know if you asked my mother she would say she also bore the pain of the early years.  I can remember sitting between her legs while she brushed my hair out.  She didn’t have Google or YouTube to assist her in the challenges of raising a daughter whose hair was nothing like her own.  She also couldn’t ask a neighbor or find a hairdresser in town that had hair like mine.  We were on her own.  My mom’s solution?  Cut it short when it gets too long to deal with.  Short curly hair combined with my brothers’ hand-me-downs resulted in being mistaken for a little boy more often than not.

Thinking back I only recall wishing I had wavy red hair like my mom or straight dirty blond hair like my cousin.  In fact, I am pretty sure I spent about the first 20 years of my life wishing I had hair that wasn’t mine.  Little did I know that women out there do it all the time and it is just called weave (again a subject for a future post).  There are a number of reasons why I didn’t love my hair but they all come down to a common denominator – I didn’t have someone to help me or to identify with.  I don’t blame anyone – it was my reality at the time.  Luckily, any little girl in a situation similar to mine now has access to so many resources to help them learn to love their curls early.   Maybe I was nudged by Dove’s new #loveyourcurls campaign  http://www.dove.us/loveyourcurls 

My family - circa 1982.  Can you spot me?

My family – circa 1982. Can you spot me?

Regardless, here I am taking the plunge and sharing my journey with my curls.  It is an ongoing roller coaster ride that I have learned to love.  I do love my curls and I am so glad God blessed me with them.  That does not mean I always know what to do with them or how to take care of them so you can join me as I continue to learn what works and what doesn’t.  Welcome to my #curlchronicles and thank you for reading my first post.  Please subscribe or come back for more.