With the advent of Black History Month in the month of February, the need to increase cultural awareness on campus is of special importance for many students and staff at Notre Dame. The Black Hair Expo on Feb. 10 in the LaFortune Student Center Ballroom, organized by the Gender Relations Center, the Multicultural Student Programs and Services, the Office of Student Enrichment, Africana Studies, Wabruda and Student Government, raised awareness by demonstrating the lack of resources for black students at Notre Dame.
Local businesses, including hairstylists and beauty suppliers, attended the event and provided free product samples and haircuts for the students. Representatives of Taliah Waajid were especially popular among students, a company that specializes in producing all-natural, vegan hair care products for all types of African-American hair.
Sharon Brown-Jackson, a hair expert and beautician, was the keynote speaker for the event. She spoke to the difficulty of maintaining black hair in an environment that lacks the proper resources for black students. Currently, Notre Dame is a prime example of such an environment; the problem is evident, for example, in the lack of African-American hair products available in the Huddle Mart.
Attendees of the event were excited to see the university addressing the gap in availability of resources for students of different racial backgrounds. Brown-Jackson encouraged students to educate their peers about the differences between their hair care routines and products.
“It’s not just enough to be a genius [in caring for black hair], but it takes courage to make change, and change starts with this conversation,” Brown-Jackson said.
It is important for many students and faculty to see Notre Dame not only accept the differences in the needs of the student body, but also embrace them. This event, as well as several other campus-sponsored events throughout Black History Month, are continuing the long-awaited movement for cultural inclusivity and appreciation on campus.