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Roots of a Movement: Hair to be Heard

I have been involved in various organizations since being at SMU but Fro easily won my heart. I recall feeling lucky to be on a campus that had a group that catered to such a niche but important cause for people like me.

Fro is a natural hair organization that serves as a safe space for Black men and women to discuss the stigma, versatility, and prowess of Black hair. The org also serves as a catalyst to disrupt the reigning beauty standard.

As soon as the opportunity to join the executive team arose, I took it. I wanted to be as involved as possible in the org that relates so heavily to experiences that myself and so many Black people identify.  

For many, hair is just hair, but for us it is an integral part of our culture. Our hair is peculiar, with unique textures and growth patterns. Historically, Black features have been degraded and the onslaught has continued into the present through workplace hair discrimination policies, school dress codes that disproportionately target natural hair styles, and general respectability politics. The Natural Hair Movement, and subsequently, orgs like Fro, encourage Black men and women to love their natural hair as opposed to taking drastic measures to disguise their natural textures. Fro also creates a platform for us to share our experiences with our hair from unlearning stigma to trading tips with one another.   

My first position in Fro was serving as Community Service Chair. I was tasked with finding a way to intersect the purpose and values of our organization with service. Through this, I created Crown Class. Crown Class is essentially a crash course on natural hair. During this “class” our executive team would partner with local community organizations or churches to teach young girls how to love and care for their natural hair. I was motivated to create this program because I felt that Black girls have a unique relationship with their hair that is not a universal experience. From a young age, the world casually teaches us that if our hair is a certain texture, it is unacceptable to go out in public with it in its natural state. It teaches us that kinky hair is ugly, unkempt, unprofessional. It tells us that for our texture, the rules of presentability are different, and that we have very little wiggle room. It tells us that our curls need to be chemically relaxed, straightened, or tucked under a wig. Crown Class works to foster self-love and confidence within young girls who are silently learning to dislike the genuinely beautiful things about themselves. Even if it is in the form of a three-hour workshop on a Saturday, I wanted Fro to go out of our way to reverse these lessons and encourage those girls to appreciate their natural selves first.  

Curlchella 2019 Executive Board

From initially serving as Community Service Chair to leading the organization as President, Fro has had a tremendous impact on me. Through curating service projects and organizing Curlchella, a black culture festival that seeks to bridge the gap between SMU and local Dallas residents, Fro has served as a beacon of support, community, and understanding for me. 

Fro has created a space for us to engage in important cultural dialogue, to break down the barriers of hair discrimination, and to contribute to the prosperity of the younger generation in embracing their natural selves. Fro has given me more than I could ask for and was critical in molding my undergraduate experience. The org transformed my leadership skills, gave me community, and taught me how to give back and unify. 

Anaka Adams (’21) is a rising senior from Dallas, Texas. She is majoring in Political Science and French and is affiliated with Virginia-Snider Commons.