I think I'm addicted to natural hair events. Last week I attended three in the span of four days. I just can't get enough. On Tuesday, Ryerson University hosted a panel of natural hair advocates at an event called My Hair, My Look, My Swag as part of their Black History Month lineup. In attendance were a variety of speakers, vendors, Ryerson students, and members of the general public. I was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of male attendees scattered throughout the crowd, and there were even two on the panel. (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also pleasantly surprised to have been given this amazing free cookie just for showing up.)
Because of the diversity in the room, we were able to dive into an array of questions regarding issues like how natural hair is perceived in romantic relationships and what it's like for men to rock their natural hair in an office environment. It was fascinating to hear the guys' take on what natural hair means to them. I thought it was especially interesting when Greg H'Side Samba, a professional dancer, stated that the decision whether or not to have natural hair boils down to health above all else. He cited the dangers of chemical burns from relaxing as reasons he wouldn't even consider going down that road, regardless of the styles relaxed hair would enable him to achieve. While it is possible to have a flourishing scalp and lustrous hair while relaxed, as some panelists pointed out, Greg believed the associated risks weren't worth it. (I tend to agree.) Even though the subject matter sometimes grew a little sombre there was always an air of humour, and we laughed constantly.
You'd think I'd have been exhausted from all the natural hair chat by this time, but the very next day I excitedly attended another meetup, this one called Curls, Coils, and Cocktails. It was hosted by one of the panelists from the Ryerson do, Bridget "Bee" Quammie, and her pal Ann Marie aka SoulAfrodisiac.
When I first arrived I was a bit nervous because it seemed everyone was already comfortably seated next to someone they knew. I timidly peeked around the tables in search of a free chair, hoping I hadn't already been at it too long. You see, I'm one of those people who feels hella awkward approaching strangers, but once the introductions are over with, we're BFFs. And that's exactly what happened when I spotted an open seat at a table with two ladies seated diagonally from each other. I was so glad I had somewhere to sit, and even more excited by the fact that they were both so friendly ... and funny!
The event was phenomenal. Bridget and Ann Marie gave us all a chance to socialize over appies and dranks at our tables before launching into the program. Their style of questioning each other and then inviting each of us to share our experiences and opinions was refreshing because unlike other events where there's a clearly established group of speakers and the audience is deemed separate, this felt like a group discussion where we were all invited to speak up whenever we wished. Some people ended up sharing some really personal and beautiful stories, which made the meetup that much more powerful and worthwhile. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with other naturalistas ﹣ and enjoy some tasty cocktails!
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