Black Hair Symposium

Temple’s African American Studies department held a black hair symposium in Gladfelter Hall. Local salons, students, and natural hair enthusiasts alike joined in a celebration of African American hair. Although legions of black women in America straighten their hair, hair salons specializing in natural styles have proliferated. More black women are working with their virgin hair, wearing their twists, locks or Afros proudly. Those in attendance were given information about the upkeep of natural tresses and a few product samples to take home with them. In the face of cultural pressure, leaders of the symposium hoped to redirect previous conceptions.

“At the end of the day,” said Donella Wright, a Temple graduate student. “I want you to love yourself and know why you do the things that you do.”

After the symposium, I spoke to a variety of Temple students who shared their different opinions on African American hair in society. Temple Senior, Dia Dorsey prefers straightening her natural tresses, but appreciates the natural hair trend as she refers to it.

“Wearing their natural hair has become a new trend,” said Dorsey. “We’re starting to shift away from society views that woman have to have bone straight hair.”

Temple Junior, Andrea Shiner, commented on the versatility of African American hair.

“With the texture that their hair already has like you’re given so many different options,” said Shiner. “It’s like a versatile sort of range of hairstyles that they can do so switching it up is sort of like part of a identity thing for these women.”

Temple Senior football players, Jeff Whittingham and Matt Falcon offered very different opinions.

“Whatever you like to wear I mean that’s your choice,” said Whittingham. “And if your hair is big then that’s you. I like straight hair to be honest.”

“I feel like whatever they feel comfortable wearing, they should do,” said Falcon.

Whether wearing natural tresses is considered a trend or a part of African American culture, one thing is certain. The media’s idea of good or appropriate hair infiltrates society and impacts African-American women’s perceptions of their own hair. However, those in attendance at the Black Hair Symposium were encouraged to embrace their beautiful natural hair as it encompasses their identity. To learn more about natural hair care, log onto  and discover new styles, products, and overall upkeep of your natural tresses.

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