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Good Hair Forum

Last October 25th, 2010, The ladies of Sigma Gamma Rho hosted a forum for women to discuss the prevalent issue of hair. The event entitled “I Am Not My Hair” drew in a diverse crowd at the Malcolm X Cultural Center. The panelists, along with the audience members, had a candid conversation about hair, the messages and meanings associated with it and its impact on a woman.

One of the panelists, Sharnia Dottin, described good hair as one that is “clean, washed and smells good” while others noted that good hair is hair that can be easily managed.

Some in the audience agreed that women have a deep rooted attachment with their hair as it gives them a sense of pride. Similarly they agreed that certain hair styles, types and lengths have socially constructed meanings that have led women of color to spare no expense to maintain a certain look.

Others on the other hand voiced that they have defiantly rebelled against societies disdain for natural hair by refusing to perm their hair.

Interlaced throughout the event were select clips from the film “Good Hair” created by the comedian Chris Rock. One of these clips explored the weave industry and its exploitative nature. It also went as far as to show where a particular weave, Indian Remi, comes from.

It showed that the hair many Indian Hindus offer as a sacrifice to their gods in temple is then sold to hair traders who clean and sew the hair that women of color buy in vast amounts. The movie evoked some strong emotions as it documented a weeping child’s head being shaved by a mother who believes the hair is being sacrificed to appease the gods while in fact it is being sold for profit by the millions in America.

It was clear by the end of the night that the issue of good hair is a very volatile and sensitive topic for many. It holds deep repercussions as to how a woman is perceived by society and the feelings of self-esteem and self-worth women ascribe to themselves and one other in light of it.

Elizabeth Asefa (Article Writer)