Afro pride: this is how cultural intolerance is fought: through “Curls of Happiness”
Natural hair is beautiful
In the Dominican Republic, there is a forced culture of hair: exuberant and curly hair (pajon) has been historically seen as ugly, ungovernable and associated with Afro-Dominican roots, from childhood women are pushed to undergo abrasive treatments to “lax” the hair and fit well in the “beauty pattern” set.
In fact, a study conducted in 2016 by the Institute of Perception in the United States confirmed that black women with natural hair experience prejudices in the workplace.
Beyond workplaces, Afro hair is subject to racist prejudice in many social spaces including schools and universities, where girls and teenagers with curls are forced to wear their hair and even receive insults such as “amarlar que grña” bad hair.”
For such reasons the initiative “Curls of happiness” was created by Sayuris Bonnet and has been joined in six months by 21 people, among which are: Yahisa Lamis Vidal, Medeline Reyes, Leslie Holguin, Angela de Jesus, Gabriela Tapia, and Daniela Herrera.
The objective of this initiative is to teach 3-12-year-old children and their tutors to recognize and value their identity through theoretical-practical workshops on natural hair.
Bonnet founder of the project, said that this idea sprang from a visit to Monte Plata, where a three-year-old girl called her ugly because she did not have straight hair, “I was shocked that such a small girl already has such prejudices and is being subjected to the parameters of perceived beauty,” she says.
It was at that moment when she saw the need to educate about the identity and origin of Dominicans from early childhood years.
She also expressed that the goal is to instruct, “only in this way do we break paradigms and create the conditions for people to love their natural cultural aspects and recover their identity and for that reason, “Rizos de Felicidad” (Curls of Happiness) has proposed to teach their workshop ‘Amando mi Naturaleza’ (Loving my Nature) once per month, until reaching all the provinces of the country.”
That is why they carry out numerous workshops to teach children and parents to recognize and value their identity through training on natural hair. The first workshop was held in Monte Plata, province where this idea was born.
The theoretical part is where content is taught about history and ancestry, human and constitutional rights, what is natural hair, types of textures, valuation, self-esteem, and other issues in a dynamic, fun – with a methodology adapted to each age. In addition, in the second block of the workshop everyone has the opportunity to practice what they have learned.
Practical part. In the practical part, parents stylize the hair of their children, regardless of whether it is straight, wavy, curly or frizzy and learn what products to use and how to apply them under the guidance and support of a trained team of tutors for this.
On her side, Yahisa Lamis Vidal, who is a lawyer by profession, explains that many of the beauty parameters in the country violate human rights, “girls have their hair straightened from a very young age and are denied the opportunity to know their origin and feel pride for this,” she explains.
The last workshop of “Curls of Happiness” called “Loving my nature,” was given to 52 children and their accompanying parents in the UASD San Cristóbal campus.
The idea, according to Sayuris Bonnet, is to do it in each province and create a network of collaborators that defends the right to choose how they prefer to wear their hair.