A pharmaceutical science major at the University of Georgia is the latest headline making crusader for the natural hair movement. Niyah Brown was looking for a way to create a safe and celebratory space for Black hair on the predominately white campus, where you are far less likely to see afros on full display in the dining hall.
“I used to always be ashamed of wearing my natural hair out.” Brown shared with The Red & Black. “I used to feel like I had to imitate the Eurocentric hairstyles that I was constantly surrounded by. It took me a while to actually appreciate my natural hair, and I realized that a lot of Black girls are still like this today, so I just wanted to break them free of the chains that I used to be in.”
Enter #NaturalNovember, the hashtag campaign launched by Brown to encourage and promote the embracement of natural hair and its styling. If you’ve embarked on this particular journey yourself, you know that it’s not the easiest of transitions. Let’s talk about not being able to make plans due to entirely dedicated wash days, sitting for hours to get that protective style tight and right, or a blow out being completely derailed by even the thought of rain drops. The maintenance of natural hair can feel like a part time job for sure, but many of those who commit to the process come to feel that not only is it a solid styling choice, but that it’s a conscious political decision as well.
Brown says she wants Black students to appreciate “the natural hair that grows from our head, while also breaking the boundaries of Eurocentric beauty standards.”
While the natural hair movement is nowhere near new, we’ve witnessed tremendous strides in recent years. Perhaps the most notable among them being The CROWN Act, a campaign created in partnership between Dove and the CROWN coalition in 2019 to end hair discrimination once and for all.
According to the Dove CROWN research study conducted in 2019, “Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.”
Now that the crown is being passed to Niyah, who’s not in the workplace as of yet, she is hyperfocused on her own immediate environment. In the beginning of the month, Brown hosted a meeting on the campus’ Creswell Hall, where she is also a resident. Alongside UGA’s National Council of Negro Women, the participants discussed the history of Black hair, and the challenges it can present, both personally and professionally.
Students across the Georgia campus are sharing their enthusiasm for the campaign. Sophomore Sydney Dawson says, “It’s not often that Black men and women are encouraged to embrace their natural hair, especially at a predominantly white institution. So this whole campaign is really refreshing,”
On Monday, November 29th, Brown will post a summary of the #NaturalNovember campaign, along with pictures that were shared with her throughout its run. Be sure to check out the hashtag and follow along on Brown’s Instagram, @godgirl_160.