Laura Oliver, the director and performer of “My Story: Nappy Hairstories,” hosted a workshop on Thursday, March 14, 2019. She discussed the importance of the play the workshop was based on, talked about the journey of self-love for her own hair, and held interactive workshops such as story writing, arts and crafts, and a small performance to help participants tell their own ‘nappy hair’ stories.
“It is a platform to express black beauty, but also question people who discriminate against our people,” Oliver said. “We have spent so much time telling other people’s stories and trying to fit into other people’s categories of us. I think we should care because now is our time,” Oliver added.
The event gave black men and women an opportunity to tell their own personal stories about their hair, speak on the insecurities they have faced due to not fitting the status quo of what black hair should be, and to abandon the idea that their identity lies within their hair. Oliver said she created the play “My Story: Nappy Hairstories” to be the blackest show that Louisiana State University had ever seen, where she is pursuing her doctoral studies. She also wanted to give a space for black men and women to creatively heal from their trauma from their hair.
Participants told their stories of finding their identity and ditching the ideals placed on them due to their upbringing. Some participants shared stories of growing to love their hair after cutting it or how the were taught that nappy hair was a bad thing while growing up. Self-love was a major theme of the event and how the lack thereof can cause many black men and women to hate their own hair.
“There are young girls out in our communities that are feeling some of the anxieties, some of the nervousness that we felt as we transitioned and changed and grow with our hair, so it’s important to show them this,” said Sarena Weatherspoon, a Xavier communications studies student and member of the Beta Delta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. The communications studies department and the Beta Delta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. co-hosted this event.
Participants split into smaller groups for an activity that allowed them to perform their hair story. The writing activity was designed for both self expression and story-telling. Arts and crafts allowed participants to tell their story with a visual including fake hair and hair jewelry. The performance also let participants move and speak as visual performance of their stories. Beginning with an affirmation that all hair is beautiful, each participant physically showed the beauty and struggle of what natural hair meant to them through dance. This event spread awareness about the beauty that natural hair is and allowed participants to find a way to heal creatively, Oliver explained.
“We were here to just do the workshop but also to kind of spread self-love and spread self-confidence about natural hair,” said Morgan Crier, a cast member of “My Story: Nappy Hairstories.” “It’s important to have these conversations and to talk about hair to kind of change the narrative,” Crier added.