As Black History Month comes to a close, the TCU NAACP held a panel discussion on black hair, beauty and their impact on today’s society.
Hosted by the AHO (African Heritage Organization) and NAACP of TCU, the Q&A event consisted of a panel of five undergraduate and graduate students that provided experiences and advice on everyday situations involving black hairstyles.
Sophomore movement science major Tyra Johnson was one of the main speakers on the panel and spoke about her opinion on common misconceptions about African hairstyles.
“When people ask questions, I see it as an educational moment,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a negative thing, there’s just a lot curiosity.”
The desire to be well groomed extends into adulthood and the multitudes of hairstyles are as diverse as the black community itself, according to the panel. There are naturals, weaves, chemically relaxed styles, braids and dreadlocks, to name just a few.
Vanessa Norris, an education leadership graduate student, said that even as far back as the black slavery era, outward appearance has made an impact on black societies and others around it.
“Ever since black people were brought over into America, we have been taught to not like the way we look,” Norris said. “Now, there is more people who embrace their [natural] hair, so there’s a political fight against the societal ideas that we have.”
The panel said that getting “good hair” often means more than transforming one’s tightly coiled roots. The choice about grooming is a more complicated process for many African-American women and some men, according to the panel.
Straightening hair has been perceived as a way to be more acceptable to certain relatives, as well as to the white establishment, according to members of the panel.
Psychology major and president of the TCU NAACP Essie Craft saw the event as a way to let the black community express themselves, whether in a professional or non-professional setting.
“I think as cultures continue to cross, [people] will get a different view on what’s considered accepted,” Craft said. “I think we can develop a new norm.”