A celebration of kinks, curls and coils

Panelists at the event talked about the natural hair experience – PHOTO BY HUGH B. JONES

Spice Rack, a Richmond-based community organization, celebrated the first World Afro Day program on Sept. 15 to address all the burning questions of men and women rocking fro’s everywhere. From product talk, to curl management advice to the social struggles of rocking a ‘fro.

 The creation of World Afro Day is the brainchild of Michelle De Leon in Westminster, England. De Leon was inspired to create the event following the a 2016 decision made by the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals  which dismissed a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a company who refused to hire a woman unless she cut her dreadlocks.

Taquara Rashid Felix, a friend of De Leon and President of Spice Rack, alongside Brittany Ross and C.C “YourCurlfriend” Bailey,  decided to bring this interactive roundtable stateside. World Afro Day is focused on how to confidently address issues of not just hair, but of navigating an extremely eurocentric culture.  Bailey, Felix and Ross all were panelists for the events.

Ross acknowledged that natural hair can be trying on self-esteem if, of course, you let it. She suggested that people should just  “talk to your hair.” She decided to relax her hair after aa childhood of keeping her natural hair braided. Once Ross became fed up with her breakage from relaxers however she began her natural journey. With an inspirational shaved head, Ross approached her natural transition as a lifestyle change.

“I did more living when I went natural,” Ross said. “I’m on my journey, too, with y’all!”

As opposed to the common phrase of “going natural”, Bailey  described the natural journey as “going back natural” because everyone is born with their hair in its natural state.=

Bailey started into her natural journey as she fell out of a stage of hair maintenance neglect as a reaction to deep depression. Now with a full fro resting on her shoulders, Bailey shared with the audience her experience the levels of discomfort which comes with working in the corporate world with her natural hair.

Felix’s participation in national pageants like Miss US Virgin Islands United States left her with the troubling dilemma of competing with her natural hair or conforming to the comfort of society with Eurocentric hair weaves.

“I have no problem wearing weaves, I love wearing weaves,” Felix said. “ But, I wanted to win with my own hair.”

Felix and the panelists encouraged audience members to invite their friends of other ethnicities and hair types to be a part of informative events like the Spice Rack Series on World Afro Day to facilitate conversations around uncomfortable topics.

Felix said she’s already ready to start working on the second annual World Afro Day celebration and imparted a closing piece of advice to the crowd.

“Stay true to yourself. Your hair is your hair,” Felix said.

Nyasia Williams, Contributing Writer

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