North Texas Daily

The beauty in our roots

The beauty in our roots

The beauty in our roots
March 01
13:09 2020

By: Oreoluwa Obayan

Former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver took the stage to give an acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in February. The animated short film, “Hair Love,” depicts a black father learning how to do his daughter’s hair during the absence of her mother. Alongside Cherry and Toliver, many people were behind the production of the film such as Issa Rae who starred in the film, Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Wade, Yara Shahidi and Jordan Peele.

“Hair Love was created because we wanted to see more representation in animation and we wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said while accepting the Oscar.

Since the award ceremony, the film has sparked many conversations across social media and in the news about putting an end to the negative stigma and discrimination associated with black hair. “Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus announced that they will be working on a bill for the 2021 Legislative session called “The CROWN Act,” that will ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles associated with race, according to an article from the Texas Tribune,

The motivation behind the legislation was to show support to students. In January, DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School, was threatened by the administration that he will not be able to walk at graduation due to his dreadlocks. “My dreadlocks are a reflection of my culture and the style is a way of embracing my heritage,” Arnold said in an article from the Houston Chronicle. Since the incident, Arnold has transferred to a more inclusive school district and was even invited to the Academy Awards as a special guest of Cherry, where he showcased his dreadlocks on the red carpet.

Unfortunately, like Arnold, there have been many cases of discrimination against black hair. Our hair is often seen as untamed, unappealing and unprofessional.

In another case last year, a varsity wrestler was ordered to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match. A video that surfaced across social media shows the wrestler looking disturbed as a member of the school’s athletic department uses scissors to cut his dreadlocks off. This kind of negative stigma can even be traced to the 1976 case of Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hospital Insurance. Beverly Jenkins was denied a promotion for the company solely because of her afro. The U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh circuit agreed that workers were entitled to wear afros under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Jenkins won her case.

In times like this when black hair is often criticized by society, it is important that the black community advocates for the beauty and versatility that is found in various hair textures and styles.

Apart from the short film, “Hair Love,” the normalizing of black hair and the conversations surrounding it have been more prevalent recently. Last year, artist Kelly Rowland, partnered up with Dove on a campaign to encourage young black girls to embrace and love their hair. Rowland and the company produced an original song called “Crown,” and sparked the use of the hashtag “#MyHairMyCrown” on social media. The artist herself has decided to wear her natural hair in hopes of inspiring her son and nieces to be true to themselves and not conform to societal expectations.

“No matter the texture shape or color it is absolutely exquisite,” Rowland said in the Dove campaign video. “Do not let anyone tell you differently.”

During this Black History Month, Cherry taught us the importance of black hair, but the celebration of our hair, culture and history should be a lifetime.

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican journalist, said it best, “Do not remove the kinks from your hair — remove them from your brain.”

Featured Illustration: Ryan Gossett

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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