With the use of chemical relaxers, African American women sometimes go to dangerous lengths to straighten their hair instead of rocking their natural curls.
This idea of beauty was challenged during Black Student Union’s “Good Hair” event with a documentary and student panel April 14 in the Campus Center Ballroom.
Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair,” which examined the importance of hair in the African American community, was shown first.
Senior communications major Jasmine Marchbanks organized the event for her senior project, leading the audience discussion on the strife African American women encounter to appear white.
“Showing the documentary was a good way to approach the topic of black hair because it can be a sensitive subject in the black community,” Marchbanks said.
“It’s something that we don’t talk about as much. It’s when people do things to offend us regarding our hair that we’ll get annoyed and speak up about it. But for the most part we don’t talk about it as much. Chris Rock was able to make it educational and put a funny pull to it so the audience could listen and laugh,” she said.
The documentary discussed the idea of good hair from a male perspective.
Freshman social science major Tyler Anderson found the documentary to be an effective approach to a serious topic.
“The movie was a good ice breaker because the humor in it provided a lot of comedic relief,” Anderson said. “It showed a real, raw view on how black people operate in a barber shop. It’s where we go to talk about things and learn about different people. The documentary showed a lot of what I couldn’t necessarily put into words.”
The event later transitioned into a lively but enlightening discussion between the panel members and the audience.
The panel members were Anderson, freshman undeclared major Kyerra Green, freshman music major Cheyenne Avila, freshman anthropology major Zimanei Slocum and sophomore broadcast journalism major Megan Hines.
The panel members shared their personal experiences with their decisions to straighten their hair or wear it naturally.
Green found the discussion between the panel and audience about the struggles of the African American community enlightening and authentic.
“I strongly think the University of La Verne should provide more panels of not just African Americans, but Hispanic and Asian cultures because I’m very informed of my own race and culture but not of others,” Green said.
“If we all knew about each other’s struggles, we’d be able to bond more and form connections,” Green said.
Avila chimed in on the matter with her personal experience being a woman of African and Mexican descent.
“My dad did a lot of traveling when I was younger, so I lived more closely with my mom and her African American roots,” Avila said. “For me, I never realized that I was biracial until I got to high school and people kept asking me what race I was. A lot of people don’t grow up submerged in multiple cultures like I did.”
Like Green, Avila agreed that the University should host more panels for not just African Americans, but all cultural backgrounds.
“More discussions like this are needed because the black community at La Verne is small. It would really help if we could connect with the Hispanic community and even more marginalized communities like the Native American community too,” Avila said.
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