World Afro Day: Change the facts, not the fro
‘Change the Facts, Not the Fro’ - WorldAfroDay September 15th
For as long as we can remember straight and long cascading locks have been considered the epitome of beauty and success. In desire first and foremost to blend in and fit the very narrow standards of what’s considered desirable, women around the world have been straightening their curls or wearing wigs.
Bias against afro hair had been present in our society for decades, with black and mixed-race men and women being pressured into styling their hair in a way that is considered more presentable and put together than their natural afro.
In 2016, a U.S. Federal court ruled that it was legal to ban dreadlocks in the workplace. Here in the UK, a staggering one in six children with afro hair report having a bad experience in school as a result of their hair confirming that such discrimination is unfortunately still widespread.
Earlier this year the global Black Lives Matter movement opened up the conversation about racism in all its forms, and while some progress has been made, the problem is far from being in the rearview mirror. Just recently, the biggest South African pharmacy chain faced backlash after launching a campaign that clearly portrayed afro hair as “dry, damaged and frizzy”, in comparison to the “normal hair” of a white person.
Afro-hair is rarely celebrated, especially globally and World Afro Day seeks to change this.
In the words of its founder Michelle De Leon “World Afro Day is a global day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair; endorsed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights…. We carry out research, create events and produce resources to empower people with Afro hair and raise awareness in wider society.”
While many of us just wake up, wash and comb our hair quickly, leave it like that or swiftly pull it in a ponytail or a messy bun before our morning commute to the office without thinking twice, afro is often perceived as unprofessional, a messy-looking hair type, and something that is not normal or acceptable.
The first ever World Afro Day was held on September 15th 2017 with a purpose to not just celebrate afro hair globally but educate to create equality. The story of Afro hair is the same in every language, culture and country, and this year W.A.D. is focusing on where it all begins: school. It’s both shocking and heart-breaking that even in the lights of the BLM movement families have had to take legal action both in the UK and overseas for the right to have their children attend school with their natural afro hair.
What World Afro day is aiming to do is educate our society that afro hair deserves as much freedom and equality as any other hair type, and doing so by challenging the status quo so this generation and the ones to come feel they have the choice to wear their hair in whatever way, shape or form.
Join the fight to #EndHairBias by checking out World Afro Day Live, which takes place online on 15th September from 6pm until 9pm. Donations can be made through the Localgiving organisation. If you truly believe in afro hair equality, let your voice be heard.