In different parts of the world, there are people who are discriminated against and treated differently not just for the colour of their skin, but for the type of hair that they have.
In September 2016, it became legal to ban dreadlocks in the workplace in the U.S, after a federal court made the ruling. Cases like this and many other scenarios of discrimination against afro hair led to the founding of World Afro Day by Michelle De Leon in 2017 when the first celebration was held.
On the official World Afro Day website (wordlafroday.com), the founder describes the occasion as “a global day of change education and celebration of afro hair…” which has been endorsed by the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
With celebrations all around the world on the 15th of September every year since its start, WAD aims to fight any discrimination against afro hair; it aims to empower, celebrate, educate and raise awareness in society about afro hair, culture and identity.
As people with afro hair, a day like this is here for us to feel appreciated for the special hair that we have. Rather than feel excluded or inferior because your hair looks different from what is shown across mainstream media (straight, shiny hair), you should feel proud to have hair that holds so much history and cultural significance. This is the aim of World Afro Day.
Today is a special day, and there are different ways you can celebrate. Here are some activities you can do to celebrate World Afro Day:
- Show your hair some love!: The best way to celebrate a day about your hair is to love and appreciate it! If you’ve been planning to have a hair care day, now’s the best time to do it. Get that wash you’ve been wanting, do that new hairstyle you’ve had saved on your phone, and spice it up with a few accessories. However you want to do it, the main idea here is to appreciate your hair.
- Share information about WAD: Many people may be unaware of the cultural and historical background of afro hair. On a day like this, the least you can do is to spread facts and information about afro hair. Tell a friend to tell a friend!
- Celebrate afro hair (and those who have it): People who are not from black or mixed-race ethnicities usually don’t have afro hair. This doesn’t exclude them from celebrating WAD…non afro hair owners can celebrate by celebrating those with afro hair through learning, sharing info about afro hair and giving afro hair owners a platform to speak and share experiences about their hair.
- Donate: The official World Afro Day website has a donation page where you can make a change by providing resource packs to a school/workplace, funding new research into workplace hair discrimination and producing a new charity song to raise awareness of afro hair inclusion. All this can be done with your donations, and you can check out the page by clicking here.
Your hair is a part of you that you must embrace and care for. World Afro Day has provided an opportunity for you to know and embrace a part of your heritage and history, but don’t just stop there. Love your hair today and on every other day.
Happy World Afro Day!