On the last day of Black History Month, Fordham’s first “Love Your Hair Expo” at the Rose Hill campus will celebrate natural hair and give individuals a space to share their hair tips—and their personal experiences.
“To this day, there are numerous incidents of children and adults being discriminated against or punished because of their natural hairstyle. We’re hoping that this event empowers individuals to embrace their natural beauty and their hair,” said Olga Baez, MC ’05, GSE ’16, executive secretary in Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s residential life office, who is co-sponsoring the event with her nonprofit StriveHigher and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The free event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Bepler Commons, located in Faber Hall. It will feature food, raffles, two authors of color who will read aloud from their children’s books, several speakers who will discuss their hair and style tips, and 10 local businesses from the Bronx and Harlem that will be selling natural hair and skin products on site.
Among the books in the story time session are Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown Books, 2018) and The Girl With The Magical Curls (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018), a paperback by Evita Giron, a freelance writer whose book was inspired by her daughter. She is currently a pastoral mental health counseling student in Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.
The expo speakers will reflect on their relationship with their hair and give the audience advice on how to care for their own. They include Martha Depumarejo and Kristopher Little, residence directors at Fordham College at Lincoln Center; Franchesca Ho Sang, GSE ’09, an English language arts teacher in the Bronx; and Courtney Gainous, a senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center.
Gainous’ talk, “Let’s Get Into This: Hair School 101,” will focus on how to take care of your hair as a college student on a budget. It will include quick and easy ways to style your hair and what to do when you’re having a bad hair day, she said. But overall, the goal of her talk is to empower young women.
“I want [young girls]to know that protective styles and natural hair in general are professional and beautiful. Some girls might feel like they have to wear the straight wig or the straight, long weave in order to fit society’s standards. But the box braids and big curly hair—those are all beautiful, too,” Gainous said. “I’ve been wearing those all of my time here at Fordham, and I felt great every moment wearing them.”
Another student speaker, Christine Ibrahim Puri, FCRH ’21, the co-founder and co-president of the Caribbean and African Student Association, will be talking about how she grew to love her natural hair. When she was a young girl in a Nigerian boarding school, she said, she and her classmates were forced to shave off most of their hair. They were told their hair was too difficult to manage and distracting to boys. Some of her classmates cried, she remembered. And she added that everyone should be in charge of their own hair.
“[People should] make it completely up to themselves, and not what other people have to say. Not what is on TV, especially, or magazines,” Puri said. “Whether that is keeping your hair the way it is or blowing it out—whatever it is, it should completely be up to you and not up to society or people around you.”
The Love Your Hair Expo is free and open to the public.