Ready to reform, never one to conform

“I want to be ‘Sex and the City’ all my life,” she says, laughing. Her chuckle of choice is loud, bold and authentic. It fills space and reverberates effortlessly. It’s the kind of nongiggle that some pretty girls are too self-conscious to release. It almost appears to overpower her petite frame. The guffaw lands back on her oval face.

Midwest native and freshman Araina Herring is friendly, indie, classy and articulate. Her syntax is street-yet-sweet. Throw some twang on it.

Her aura is religious and somewhat risqué. “Love” winds up her neck in a vine- like font.

She is also a bookish morning bird, jovial, jaded and unafraid.

The top of her head evidences that fearlessness. The black Mohawk seen two weeks ago is nowhere to be found. In its stead is an auburn fade that gives her oval face a golden brown brilliance. She looks like autumn. Her stilettos usually resound like crunched leaves.

Today her sandals are clunky and artistically scuffed. Her toenails are turquoise. A yellow clutch contains a cell phone that she checks, unconcerned..

“I’m in a metamorphosis . I’m more happy with myself . “

Raina (as her friends call her) is no longer talking about style, but her latest epiphany. It sounds like a pre-quarter life crisis, but she is evolving ecstatically.

As for her follicles, she cut those more out of Afrocentric pride than a desire to be haute. Malcolm X’s autobiography and his analysis of the impact conks maintained on blacks’ psyches left an impression.

Call it her repeated realization.

It’s not like this haircut was the first hack. In high school she parted with processed locks and embraced her inner naturalista, but faced alienation. After she decided to stop emulating her less melanin-kissed classmates, presumably “liberal” arts school students thought she was weird.

She relaxed her hair again.

Now Grambling students embrace her. The recent lack of hair length did not mar her social life, she says. But even if it did, it’s likely that she’d be indifferent. Unless you’re Jesus Christ (or her mother, whose main concern is her daughter’s continued faith in the Holy Son and focus on her high GPA), she is not pressed.

Raina doesn’t believe her hair has to be either. Many girls commit to perms and extensions to appease males, she expresses. She admits that she felt trapped by a voluptuous physique, flowing follicle ideal, but rolls eyes at it now.

Presently her work happens from the inside out. A child of a single- parent household, she is uncertain about marriage. Uncontrollable death and divorce left uncertainties, but she regains control through creative expression and a jazzy, modern sense of self-which does not include morning sickness or a monotonous existence. Grad school is the plan. She wants to open a poetry and music lounge.

God is her way to it all.

Per mom’s advice, she prefers to start days with prayer and exercise. Sanctified and sassy, she is part MAC store, mild mosh pit and definite catwalk.

“I just have to set a good example.”

Enrolling in college and excelling fit the bill of success that keeps her focused. She is learning and readily admits to universal mistakes.

Loving too passionately and prematurely are two of them, but both incited changes which ultimately ushered in lessons.

As an adolescent she nixed mom’s approval and got her first tattoo. She had her then boyfriend’s name inked on; it’s a decision she isn’t fond of now, but wouldn’t trade.

Emerging from the relationship left her determined and decidedly wiser. Even so, she doesn’t usually display it. She sighs and addresses how people judge.

“. As long as I’m right with God . “

Raina will remain tatted. Doing so might add to the presumption of edginess while she helps people through drug problems. She clarifies that drug abuse doesn’t plague her, but she is ready to move people along the road of recovery. She is complexity. She is humanity.

Seemingly too fashion, too avant-garde, too rendezvous to relate, she heartily laughs again. Her oval face radiates.

It all makes sense.

Her style and evolution are almost mathematical. She has eight tatts; her first came at age 16. She’s halfway to becoming who she wants to be.