Interviewed and written by Tocarra Eldridge
Natural hair expert and businesswoman Desreta Jackson has recently released her new book “The Black Hair Conspiracy” in which she takes a look into natural hair and its physiological effects throughout history. The book is educational and informative as it provides a step-by-step guide to maintaining hair and disproving practices passed down by mass media.
Desreta Jackson is also an amazing actress and film director. She is known for her iconic role in the film “The Color Purple” as the young Celie, where it was nominated for an Oscar. She has also landed roles on Sister Act and Mancuso FBI, just to name a few. Some of her accomplishments consist of her being awarded the 2011 Prestige Award and two MAC Awards. She is also the C.E.O. of the hair and beauty brand BlackSilk. Nonetheless, she has worked with international companies and much more.
I had the opportunity to speak to the amazing and wonderful Desreta Jackson regarding her new book, her insight on black hair and much more. Here is what Desreta Jackson has to share with the readers.
Tocarra Eldridge: Hello, and how are you today Desreta?
Desreta Jackson: I’m doing fine.
Tocarra: Great, thank you for giving us the opportunity to interview with you today!
Desreta: Awww, thank you for having me! Thank you!
Tocarra: You’re more than welcome. It’s an honor! So, let’s begin. Desreta, what inspired you to write your new book “The Black Hair Conspiracy”?
DJ: (Laughs) So, you’re just going to dive right on in. (Laughs)
Tocarra: Yes! (Laughs)
Desreta: Actually, it was in 1997. I was pregnant with my daughter. I knew how she was going to look and I knew her hair texture and everything would be similar to mines. I literally wanted her to have some sort of reference to how to care for her hair. At the time, I was a braider. I had a home-based business in California, and I was poppin! (Laughs) I was like, I was the place you would come to if you wanted variety. Nobody even knew that I did the Color Purple. They did not know who I was. They just knew that I had ads in the yellow pages, and they knew I had a lot of experience. So, I literally thought of my daughter at the time, because I was thinking of how could I pass this to her. I was looking and researching books and I didn’t really see any books fit on my perspective as a black woman doing hair – the kind of hair I did, my culture – so it inspired me at that time to literally think about a book, and I started the process in my head.
Tocarra: For many generations, when it comes to hair, the mass media has shared false images and highlighted this stigma of what African American’s hair should look like. Do you anticipate your book as being a catalyst to break the stereotype and lies concerning black natural hair?
Desreta: Definitely! Ironically, in my mind at the time when I first started the journey and doing the research, I always looked at it like something that people might not get right away, but over time, after it has been published 20 or 30 years, they will understand. They will get the aspect of what I was saying and they will really understand the levels of the research, what I went through and what I was trying to communicate. I didn’t expect it to go that quick – for people to get it immediately the way they have and the way they’ve received it. So, I’m happy about that.
Tocarra: For those readers who pick up the book and read it, what can they expect to take away with them?
Desreta: They can expect to understand the power of their hair. It is called “The Black Hair Conspiracy” because it is literally about the color black, and how much of a power that color has to do with our universe, how frequency and mechanic physics works, and understanding why our hair is a conductor to the energy and why the melanin, the color of the black hair is powerful. Along with that they are going to learn that there is an actual connection to why black hair in itself, the culture of black hair – from a beginning of what we can even think of with slavery – why our hair is targeted. People think it’s just hair. That’s the point; you’ve been brainwashed to think it’s just hair. You’ve been brainwashed to destroy your hair and not understand it is so powerful. They did research in the early 16 and 1700’s on your hair. When you truly understand how your hair works, the physics behind it, what mechanic physics has discovered with your hair, you’ll understand why it is important. I kind of made it an introduction to the concept of mechanic physics. So, you’ll learn a little bit about physics and science, you will learn some facts that they have already discovered. You learn how your hair is connected to the universe and you’ll learn the proper way to care for your hair. There are actual techniques that you’ve been taught not to do that you are supposed to be doing.
Tocarra: Our hair is often rated less beautiful, less sexy or attractive which impacts some individual’s confidence. What advice would you give to those who want to flaunt their natural curl pattern but are afraid to do so due to the negative stigma?
Desreta: I feel like you can’t really give someone advice on how they feel; you have to actually go deeper into their psychological concept of how they’re thinking. I was hoping, with the book, if they start understanding how powerful their hair is and the importance of it, that they will start feeling more pride within themselves. That helped me personally. Once I started to study my roots and my history…I started learning about great Kings and Queens, and this was in the 90s and early 2000s. I had a different take on how I perceived myself. So, that’s one of the biggest things that I think you have to do is more self-study to determine who you are, and that will manifest. When you take it in inwardly it manifests outwardly.
Tocarra: When it comes to the workplace and the social pressures to straighten your hair for careers due to the fact that many feel as though our natural hair is not professional, how can we get sisters to break the barriers and simply be true to themselves? You stated that it comes from within, but would you mind elaborating on that a little bit?
Desreta: I think Black entrepreneurs and even those in different levels of corporate America have to take a stance as well. I make it a point in my company where we wear our hair like we want to. I think for other people it is the same way. Say you’re a lawyer or say you’re a doctor, or a CEO of a company, you’re going to have to represent these things. You’re going to have to show it. They’re going to have to see it; you’re going to have to speak on it. You can’t be silent about these things. We just have to be able to make change. Just like you, in your position, you’re in a powerful position as well, so doing this piece and covering this story, this is actually a way that information is shared. It’s powerful!
Tocarra: You are also the CEO of BlackSilk Products. How did this amazing product line come into existence?
Desreta: Just me having a daughter. That’s what happened. I was in the need for her to find her self-love and her happiness. I really needed to make her hair be a part of how she was going to feel pride. When we get our hair done we feel good. When our hair is healthy and pretty we feel special. At the time I was doing my daughter’s hair, she had really really thick hair, and when I would comb her hair she would scream and cry. So, one day, I have a habit of always trying different experiments, so I tried an experiment on making a so called natural perm. I put it on her hair and tested it, and it didn’t really do anything. Months went by and I didn’t make the perm or apply any creams to her hair, and she started going crazy. She thought that she couldn’t comb her hair. That’s when we noticed that all of that time, the things that I was using were helping to make her hair silky and was really making a change in her hair. So, I took that and created different oils, etc. I was also a braider, so when clients came to me I would make these oils for their hair, and it naturally flowed into products. I had different products that I used for my daughter’s hair that I also used for my clients. They were loving it! We’re talking early 2000s. Coming from the Island’s, I knew certain things, so I was very accustomed to using aloe vera for scars. Growing herbs was just something that I was naturally doing. So, I literally transpired that into the products. It just somewhat layered from one product to the next product, to the next product until the point where clients would want more and more and it eventually became Black Silk Products. I want to share how I got the name Black Silk. My daughter was in junior high school attending a predominately white and Hispanic school, and I would press her hair. It would be so shiny and silky. The kids would touch her hair and ask her why it felt like silk. They would compete, the boys and girls. They would always touch hair and she would always win. Her hair felt like black silk! So, that’s how I got the name; it clicked.
Tocarra: You are also the CEO of the Healthy Hair Expo. Would you like to tell us a little about this wonderful initiative?
Desreta: I tried to get our product Black Silk into a lot of hair expos early on and they weren’t receptive to it. At the time we were one of the only natural based products that were out there on the market. I launched originally in 2010. On top of that, it wasn’t advertised a lot – some of the others had bigger campaigns. I had a different belief structure at that time, I wasn’t trying to talk about products as being healthy, I was trying to tell people that it’s not moreso the products that make your hair healthy, it’s moreso what you’re doing to the body…because your hair is a byproduct of your health. At the time, because I was getting resistance, I one day decided I would do my own expo. I basically created The Healthy Hair Expo. I didn’t want it to be just for anybody, I hooked it up for men, women…it was all cultured. For some reason because it was healthy hair, I had a wide array of people coming in from multiple cultural backgrounds. The first expo was so successful. There were so many men, I think we had close to 50% who were men, along with women. We had a diversity of cultures from Asian to Afghanistan. We had a wide variety of vendors. Everything at our expo had to be basically all natural. I would literally teach them all about the products and medications. We had doctors and it was amazing! Since then, and I like to take credit for it, I notice a lot of hair expos now do include men and try to open up more culturally.
Tocarra: Desreta, when it comes to your background and all of your accomplishments, I am very enthused. As a successful actress, businesswoman and social activist, what words-of-encouragement or advice would you share with young women who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Desreta: I would tell them don’t look for the fame or the money, and don’t look for the affirmation from other people. Whatever you’re truly seeking is going to come from within. Follow your heart and whatever it is that you want to do. Follow what inspires you to get up and make things happen. Not everyone is going to see your vision or believe you or feel the way you feel. Once you do it from your heart, you’ll have the kind of duration that it’s going to take to be successful. Sometimes success comes after 20 years. You’re going to find that when you’re around 20 years later or 10 years later, people are going to see you as a overnight success, but that’s because they heard of you all of a sudden. They didn’t know that you were there for twenty years doing this. Stay focused and stay with what you believe. Stay with what you love and your passion. Know that you will always be successful because you’re doing what you love.
For more information please visit Desreta Jackson at http://www.DesretaJackson.com
Last modified: June 24, 2023