The Next 400: Cleveland teachers design ‘Hair Day’ mentorship program to celebrate diverse hair textures in the classroom
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -For months, students at Village Prep Woodland Hills Elementary School have been looking forward to a day created to make them look and feel beautiful: ‘Hair Day.’
It’s a day centered around the crown, as students and teachers talk about beauty, self-esteem and sisterhood.
Just after noon, 9-year-old Egyptt held up a mirror, watching as a group of older girls, lovingly styled her coils. She told 19 News reporter Sia Nyorkor, that no one has ever made her feel this way.
“Good. It feels like the sister I never had,” she said.
‘Hair Day’ is a hands-on workshop that teachers Denise Robinson and Kaneesha Lee designed as part of their mentoring group, Girls 2 Women. They said the idea started last year after noticing some of the girls in their classrooms weren’t feeling their best selves, all because of their hair.
“Hair is our crown, hair makes you feel good and I know that when our hair is not done and we don’t feel like we look good, we don’t perform well and that might really be a reason why our kids might misbehave,” said Ms. Lee.
The teachers collected donations for hair products and tools and set up the hair appointments where the older girls would style the younger girls hair, right in the classroom. There was even area for shampooing, as some of the mentors showed the girls how to condition their tresses.
9-year-old Brooklyn said she soaked up the tips.
“You have to keep it clean because you don’t want no bugs or anything in your hair and you have to keep it moisturized. That’s important,” she said.
The teachers said, it’s not just about the hair but the message. They wanted to create a space where all textures and styles were embraced.
This as some Ohio lawmakers continue pushing for the CROWN Act which stands for Create A Respectful And Open Workplace for Natural Hair. The law would prohibit hair discrimination in the workplace and public schools.
The CROWN Act is law in 20 states but is not yet federal law.
“Sometimes there’s so much scrutiny with Black hair and the styles that we wear and how creative we can be with our hair. One day it can be in braids, the next day it could be flat ironed, the next day it could be in a puff, one day it could be in extensions or whatever the case may be but I think it’s really important to celebrate that and our little girls need to see us celebrating us our hair,” said Robinson.
“I love that there are different hair types sitting next to each other getting their hair done because we’re teaching them that no matter what type of hair you have, you are beautiful, point blank,” said Lee.
19 News has covered Black Hair culture extensively as part of The Next 400, a series created to encourage conversations and action about racism in our community.
If you have a story you’d like for us to cover, send us an email to The Next 400 at W-O-I-O-dot-com.
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