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The Next 400: Northeast Ohio cosmetologist awarded grant to combat hair discrimination

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 8:29 PM EST
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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - A Cleveland Heights cosmetologist is doing her part and taking matters into her own hands to combat hair discrimination in our community.

LaDosha Wright has been awarded a grant to empower those affected by hair shaming and bullying and she’s hoping those folks will pay it forward.

Some said Wright is more than just a hairdresser, but it took some time for her to see it.

The former outreach worker was encouraged by her colleagues, who told her the truth.

“People aren’t going to the hair salon just for a hairstyle, and maybe you could let that be your career,” said Wright.

Before she earned her cosmetology license, she said sadly, many of her clients were troubled by discrimination, specifically hair discrimination.

“Every person regardless of race, the age, the socio-economic, male or female, whatever the culture - Hispanic, African-American, just unanimous,” she said.

“What is it?” Wright would ask.

“I don’t like myself,” is what she’d hear.

“What is it about yourself you don’t like?” Wright would inquire.

“I would say 98% said ‘my hair.’ And I just was floored,” said Wright.

Since then, she’s been working to get people to love their locs.

In January, Wright was awarded a grant to combat hair discrimination and hair shaming.

She’s calling it “The Ubuntu Hair Love Project,” an African term that means “humanity.”

Classes start in February and for six months, she and her partners will facilitate workshops on how to do textured hair.

One of her goals is to change the conversation about Black hair by getting to the root of it.

“This is the first of a kind that’s specific to African-Americans,” said Wright. “The Ubuntu project is a project that’s is really offering support. For certain we know that the history of textured hair is really nowhere in the United States on a popular level. You do have some people that are aware of it, but my job is to bring it to the forefront and make it mainstream,” she said.

19 News has covered the subject extensively with a special last December “The Next 400: Digging Into The Tangled Roots of Black Hair Culture” The report revealed the “Textures: The History of Art and Black Hair” exhibit at Kent State University, documented personal hair journeys and looked into pending legislation like The Crown Act stands, which would ban hair discrimination in Ohio.

The Next 400: Digging into the Tangled Roots of Black Hair Culture
The Next 400: Digging into the Tangled Roots of Black Hair Culture

Wright is actively involved with the Textures exhibit, leading programs monthly.

She said all hands on deck are needed to dismantle the system.

Take a look at the "Textures: The History & Art of Black Hair" at Kent State University.
Take a look at the "Textures: The History & Art of Black Hair" at Kent State University.(Source: Anna Mates, Kent State University)

“We know the power of knowing your history. So this is definitely a program of empowerment. It’s a program of support, of celebration,” said Wright. “We want to address and talk about hair discrimination, hair bullying, hair shaming. ‘I don’t know, I hate my hair.’ We gotta talk about hating your hair, then we gotta talk about how to solve it. We’re going to offer some actual solutions,” she said.

The Ubuntu Hair Love Project debuts on Feb. 6.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about hair texture is encouraged to attend.

Ladosha Wright wins grant to combat hair discrimination: "The Ubuntu Hair Love Project"
Ladosha Wright wins grant to combat hair discrimination: "The Ubuntu Hair Love Project"(Ladosha Wright)

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