WBSU kicked off their Black History Month events with the third annual “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
The name “Don’t Touch My Hair” was inspired by the frequent violation many African-American women experience regarding their hair being touched without their permission. Often, the first response these women make to the unwanted touching is “don’t touch my hair.”
As said by WBSU’s president, Alona Harrison, “you can look at it, but don’t touch it because if you break it, you buy it.”
Don’t Touch My Hair was an educational event on hair, specifically the hair of African-Americans, for the Washburn and Topeka community. The event consisted of a raffle for prizes containing hair products, free haircuts and a presentation on hair care by Neyssa Nunez-Redmond. Another goal was to raise awareness about the significance of appreciating a woman’s hair without putting your hands on it.
Nunez-Redmond discussed proper maintenance for black hair. She covered finding your hair porosity, curl pattern, natural hair pros and cons, relaxed hair pros and cons, protective styling and more hair-related topics.
Nunez-Redmond is the founder of Little Girls’ Hair, a local organization that helps foster parents learn more about styling and taking care of young African-American girls’ hair. She shared that when she began fostering her now adopted daughter, her daughter’s hair had been continuously buzzed because her previous foster parents didn’t know how to style it. This inspired her in starting the organization to educate foster parents and the community on hair care for young black girls.
WBSU hosts this event during Black History Month because of the cultural importance of hair in the African-American community. Hair is connected to identity, expression and beauty for many in the black community.
“Black hair is everything in the black community. It doesn’t matter if you have Amber Rose hair with the skin fade, Blac Chyna hair with the 30-inch bundles or Michelle Obama hair with the natural silk press. All of our hair types and styles are important and celebrated by us black women,” said Harrison.
“Black hair and multicultural hair in itself is an art form. We need you to understand that everything we do to our hair takes time and preparation, and that’s all significant and special to us,” said Harrison.
Society’s long, continually discriminatory and oppressive system has impacted the perception of black women’s hair as being “unprofessional” and unattractive. However, movements by the black community and allies persistently fight for hair equality culturally, as well as in the workplace and school.
Persevering in expressing allyship and standing up to black-shaming beauty standards helps society become more inclusive and appreciative of all our uniquely beautiful selves.
WBSU is collecting unopened multicultural hair products at Love Fellowship Church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and Temple of Deliverance Church for the children Pine Ridge Prep Academy until Feb. 29. Pine Ridge Prep Academy is a local low-income preschool in the Topeka 501 district where 90% of students are at-risk and 90% of students are African-American. WBSU assists these students in accessing black hair care products that can be too expensive for families to afford.
edited by Erica Faulkinbury, Hannah Alleyne