On February 25, 2011 All Tressed Up served on a panel for the Connecting Women of Color conference.
This conference was wonderful! Upon entry attendees were greeted by University of Richmond staff members and presented with lovely orientation packets. The meeting room was arranged in banquet style in preparation for the keynote speaker, Ms. Samantha Lopez. Lopez reminded us that it is so important to know and love yourself and that despite our differences we share one commonality - womanhood. Her words definitely sparked emotions.
Women of varying ethnicities, colors, shapes and more were in attendance. There were even some male allies present. Soon after the keynote presentation, the crowd separated into the seminar (or discussion) of their choice. Sessions included:
- Stereotype Threat
- Complex Role of Spirituality in the Lives of Women of Color
- Hook-up Culture for Women of Color
- Politics of Body and Hair
Having served on the panel for the Politics of Body and Hair session, it is only right that I provide a bit of insight. With panelists that included University of Richmond students, Ms. Samantha Lopez, Glynnis Crosby (owner of Nirvana Salon and Spa), one of our featured Big Chops and yours truly, we were bound to have a rich discussion. We worked in a pattern of the facilitator introducing a concept/idea, taking responses from the panel and then from the audience. In this session the discussion was a bit dominated by the natural versus relaxed hair conversation.
It was only right to note that black women are not the only women that decide to 'go natural'. There are Caucasian women who have heads full of curls and opt to flat iron or blow dry daily in an effort to achieve a sleek look. Soon thereafter, one participant chimed in and shared her trials as a natural curly girl. It was interesting to see the light bulb as she shared her avoidance of swimming and how she flat ironed her hair so much that it began to fall out.
There were however some very interesting discussions that surfaced. Topics such as colorism, hip hop lyrics, the term dreadlock, body type and even the Willie Lynch letter were brought to the surface. This was an extremely interesting panel discussion!
I cannot express just how grateful I was to have participated in on this panel. It is important that we as women learn to love and become comfortable with ourselves so that we can in turn love another. Being surrounded by women of varying backgrounds and circumstances definitely opened my eyes to a number of things. Kudos to University of Richmond for a wonderful event. Stay tuned because you will be getting to know a few of the panelists soon and very soon...