Hello, Lovelies! My name is Tyler Simone Newman and I am the founder of Afro Puff Chronicles. I live in North Jersey and am a junior at a private all-girls school. You can often find me playing tennis, singing in my school’s glee club, writing for my school newspaper, learning Chinese (I love languages!!) and traveling to foreign countries. I am a natural busy-body and my friends would agree that I always have a new project that I’m working on. Afro Puff Chronicles was started on November 23, 2017, when I was feeling discontent with the resources out there (there were none!) for girls of color going to predominately white schools such as my own. Below, is a piece I wrote detailing my inspiration to create APC and my journey to where I am now.
Since kindergarten, I’ve attended a private, predominantly white, all-girls school.
I’m a black girl.
And, at first, that didn’t make me feel much different than anyone else. In 8th-grade, though, a white teacher stuck her hand in my corkscrew-curly, natural hair. Without asking. I was sort of shocked, but only for a moment. This is normal, I told myself. This is the reality of being a black girl in a predominantly white space.
Besides, in middle school, most kids are just trying fit in. That’s part of the reason I rarely wore my hair natural in the first place. My mother thought flat-ironing my hair straight made it easier to manage than my kinky hair. I thought flat-ironed hair made me look prettier.
It also kept me from standing out. Once, when I wanted to be friends with a circle of white girls who wore Tory Burch flats and designer clothes, I begged my mother for a pair of those flats. After months of begging, I got Tory Burch shoes for Christmas. My classmates complimented me on my flats. But that didn’t make me one of them. Those girls didn’t let me in their circle.
By 9th grade, something in me started to change. Mainly, I started seeing more people who looked like me, watching them on Youtube and hearing them talk about how black is beautiful. I heard about “the big chop,” black girls growing out their natural hair and chopping off the strands that had been chemically straightened and, in the process, damaged. The Saturday that I sat in Robert’s chair at Deva Curl in Manhattan, he gave me my chop and plenty of tips for my own natural hair journey. I no longer wanted to assimilate, but instead, I WANTED to stand out.
My blog, Afro Puff Chronicles, results from the work I’m doing to feel confident in my blackness and everything else that I am. It’s for other black and brown girls—all girls of color—who are trying to navigate spaces where they feel different, unaccepted and, perhaps, unloved. The blog is for girls like Lauren Liu, an Asian American classmate of mine who battled depression and killed herself on October 30, 2017. She was 14 and one of a handful of Asian girls in our mostly white school. Her death greatly impacted me and was one of many events, that inspired me to start this blog.
In a time of divisiveness and hate, I want a space for girls of color to build a community and not be afraid to speak their truth. I see Afro Puff Chronicles as being a place to have meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations. To be a place to talk about favorite books and movies, passions and triumphs, but also be a place to unload struggles and ask for advice. I’m doing this so that other girls don’t feel as out of place as I did growing up and that solidarity can continue to build between our communities of color. Black, brown and everything in between.
I’m 16 now and I’m proud to say I feel confident and revel in my blackness NO MATTER WHERE I AM. Making Afro Puff Chronicles has helped me to heal and come to peace with my experience and look forward to the chapters awaiting in my story.
This is to love, sisterhood and new beginnings. I hope you all will join me the rest of the way.
Note: I want to make a point in saying that there is so much more to me than my relationship with my school. I invite you to read my blog posts to discover my passions and learn about what makes me, me.