Event Recap: The Politics Of Black Hair

The Politics Of Black Hair - February 22, 2015

Toni Daley & London Ivy Products hosted a great event at Harlem Restaurant (Harlem East location), in downtown Toronto, February 22, 2015. The Panelists had varying perspectives on natural hair and protective styling and what it meant to them. There were also many giveaways from various companies as well. I think people were overwhelmed with all of the prizes—I know I was! I was also glad to support their event, by providing a Gift Certificate as a door prize.  I bought my ticket in advance and opted for a VIP ticket, and so I received some extra goodies. See below for a list of Sponsors/Contributors.

An Honorable mention goes out to Elana Camille for providing the event with her beautiful artwork for the day.

The conversation centered around protective hair styling, and the politics that may be associated with that. It was interesting to listen to the dialogue from their view, as YouTubers and Stylists. There is a view in the natural hair community that people who wear their hair in protective styles are in some sort of hiding. Especially those who wear their hair in these styles all of the time. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter, including myself as a hair stylist, and at the end of the day, why are the rest of us so concerned with how others wear their hair? The diversity on the panel made this point an interesting one because one of the panelists wears her hair in weave all the time (she admitted). She explained that she had a very demanding schedule and that for her lifestyle it was necessary, as her days start at 3am for the most part. At the end of the day, everyone has different reasons for their use of protective styling. I know, I do it to change up my look or give myself a hair styling break. Most people mainly use protective styling  during a period where they would like a styling break or a wash n’go break. Sometimes, people have a busy period coming up or they may want a protective style for a holiday. Unfortunately, when people are always in protective styles, some people assume that they are insecure or have issues regarding showing their hair to the public. Some are extreme and link it to self-hate. Those reasons could be true, but not likely.

That moves us into the art of weave and wearing that as a protective style all of the time. I am not a weave advocate, but if done well, can be a great protective style. The issue for me comes from clients, especially new clients who come to me saying that they have damaged hair due to a bad installation or wearing weave for too long. The damage could have come from the person doing the installation or by the wearer, not maintaining their weave well for the duration that it was in. I speak about the protective styled wearer being accountable for maintaining their hair here. At any rate, I don’t perform weave as a service, but will refer people interested in that service elsewhere—where I trust no hair damage will occur. I am definitely all for switching up one’s look; however, if someone is wearing weave all of the time, straight weave, long, almost waist length, that type of look is so different from what a Black woman’s hair actually looks like. So, to wear that look all of the time or identify with that look is worrisome, if done all of the time—emphasis on, all of the time. I wear my hair straight on occasion and I do like how it looks, but that isn’t a look that I identify with every single day of the year. I know there are some militant Naturalista’s who may claim that even I may hate myself because I wear my hair straight on occasion, but that is such a huge assumption to make about how one chooses to wear their hair. Non-Black women wear weave also, in fact, they wear a lot of weave and other hair pieces. What I find different with Non-Blacks is that they are wearing a texture similar to their own vs. many Black women opting for the straight 24” hair that is on the other end of the spectrum for our hair texture.

Further discussion centered around other perceptions on hair colour and if someone is still considered a natural if they choose to dye their hair. I find that ridiculous, personally. I have also been dying my hair for about 10 years now and my hair is healthy. This part of the discussion didn’t take up too much space, as I believe most thought it was odd. Another interesting area of discussion was whether or not people experience different treatment depending on how their hair was styled. The panel didn’t have much to say on this point. I believe there are styles that garner more attention than others. For instance, when I wear Bantu Knots, I have more observers…and sometimes, I have to think about it and then I say to myself, “ah, yes, it’s my hair”. The world doesn’t seem to be ready for us and our hair in it’s natural state.

The dialogue was interesting and I believe the audience got a lot out of it. The audience consisted of Naturalistas, people who had relaxed hair, colour dyed hair, people in protective styles, afros, etc…There was a good mix of people in attendance and it was a safe space for this open conversation on natural hair and wearing protective styles. It is 2015, and we are still having these discussions. People may be tired of them, but they are necessary. The reality is, women are judged differently than men, Black women are judged differently from Non-Black women, and Blacks in general are judged differently than any other group in society, but that is another post altogether. Why must we further judge each other based on our hair texture within our own community? Where does the judging end? We need to celebrate each other and just be excited that relaxer sales have been going down for the last few years, due to the Natural Hair Movement, no? Do follow Toni Daley and London Ivy Products to see what new projects they may be working on in the future.

 

Panelists:

 

Toni Daley, Vlogger/ Jewelry Designer/ Artist,

Natural Neiicey, Vlogger and Natural Hair Enthusiast 

Keina Morgan, Licensed Curly Hair Specialist 

Nicky “Splinta24”, Vlogger and Natural Hair Enthusiast

Janet Jackson, JouJou Hair Studio, Hair Stylist & Salon Owner

 

Sponsors:

London Ivy Products
www.londonivyproducts.com

Toni Daley
www.tonidaley.com and YouTube @tonidaley80

Harlem Restaurant
www.harlemrestaurant.com

Keina Morgan
www.keinamorgan.com

Rainbow Kisses Cosmetics
www.rainbowkissescosmetics.com/

Nathalie Atanda and Jerome Clarke-Singh
www.Redwoodmarket.ca

Glamour Kisses Jewelry
www.glamourkissesjewelry.bigcartel.com

Yes Lioness
www.yeslioness.com/

Kinky Curly Yaki
www.kinkycurlyyaki.com/

Latoya Ming
Red Sauce & Teacups

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