If her bid for the 41st District seat on the City Council is successful, Tulani Kinard will perhaps be one of the more colorful New York politicians. She’s a wife, mother, musical artist, spiritual life coach, interfaith minister, author (“No Lye: The African-American Woman’s Guide to Natural Hair Care”) and former salon owner and “hair sculptor.” “I was raised in the church. My grandparents were the pastors. I was encouraged to express myself, and I wanted to be everything. I wrote, acted in plays and I sang,” said Kinard of her Pentecostal upbringing in Boston. “In our church, a song usually accompanied the testimony. Singing was always that for me. My first professional experience was with Sweet Honey in the Rock [a Grammy-winning a cappella group]. Most of the Honey music was about telling of the social condition of our people. With our music, we told of unique experiences, we healed and we were chroniclers of the times. I consider my music to be empowerment music.”
Kinard would like to bring change to those social conditions by winning the Brooklyn City Council seat that is currently occupied by Darlene Mealy. “Mealy has been criticized for being against the mayor on the term limits issue and then voting for his bill in the final vote. She appeared to be under extreme pressure, but I don’t offer that as an excuse. I don’t support what she did and I think it’s time for a change. She’s criticized heavily in this community,” said Kinard. Though Kinard has never held public office, she was an integral part of getting legislation on the books that created the country’s first natural hair care license, and she has ideas for her Brooklyn community. She also owned the first natural hair care salon in Brooklyn. That salon, now called New Wave Kultural Kreations, is owned and operated by two of her students. “I claim the 41st District as an empowerment zone, not in the business sense, but in terms of the larger spiritual sense. On a local level, we have to plug into that energy that Obama helped to spark. My vision is to increase the inter-generational conversation. I want to bridge the understanding of wisdom and respect. I’m very concerned about children in and out of school, and I am especially concerned with empowering and strengthening the women in this community. If your mother is not right, your house is not right,” said Kinard.
She was born and raised in Boston, but Kinard is hardly a carpetbagger. She moved to New York in her early 20s and has made herself an integral part of her Bed-Stuy neighbor- hood. Until recently, she worked at Brooklyn’s esteemed Boys and Girls High Schools, and her husband of 26 years has an after-school program in the community. Another big part of Kinard’s life is the Ase (ah-shay) of Peace Fellowship series.” It is a monthly gathering of artists who I invite to share their gift with the community at large. The artists have to set the intention of peace. I am leaving out the word performance. It is a sharing of energy. The audience is intergenerational. We have had people who were just days old to people nearing 100 years old. The artists are diverse as well. We have hip-hop artists, neo-soul, gospel, dance, classical, spoken word and many others,” noted Kinard.
The City Council hopeful is aiming to raise $20,000 by Dec. 31 for her campaign. Kinard said she is not sure if Mealy intends to run for the seat or if anyone else is intending to cast his or her hat into the ring. Kinard will be performing at Sister’s Place (456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn) on Dec. 20. For more information, call (718) 398-1766.