Textures: Redefining black beauty on Kent campus

Kennedi Combs

Today’s African American millennials are getting in touch with their roots. Their hair roots, that is. 

Textures is a multicultural hair group at Kent State set on educating black women on the beauty of their natural hair. 

Vice President and junior psychology major Kai Clemons summed up what Textures is really about.

“We really talk about what it means to be natural and what it means to have natural hair on campus, at a predominantly white institution and in society,” Clemons said.

At their first general meeting on Sept. 5, they started by going around the room, having everyone share their “big chop” stories.

In the black community, “the big chop” is when a black woman cuts a substantial amount of hair off because it was unhealthy due to relaxers or heat damage. 

In the room of approximately 30 black women and two men, not one hairstyle was the same. Yet, the big chop stories were all similar. 

Most of these women got perms, relaxers and texturizers, which chemically straighten and damage the roots of black hair, as young children. 

Throughout the room, there seemed to be two main reasons for relaxing their hair at such a young age. 

The first reason being that many mothers didn’t have the time or energy to deal with the black curls and kinks of their young child’s hair. While the second most common reason was the constant criticism from other family members and society overall saying that natural black hair was too “nappy” and “unacceptable.” 

Something everyone in the room agreed on was that it was empowering to cut their hair because for the first time in their lives they had control over their hair and weren’t adhering to societal pressures. 

To show how deeply underrepresented black women and black hair is in society, Clemons presented a demonstration.

She had everyone in the room search “beauty” in Google Images. What resulted was thousands of white women with straight hair and very few women of color, if at all. 

Occasionally, you would see famous black celebrities like Rihanna, Beyonce or Zendaya. However, for the most part, the page was plastered with white women with pin straight hair.

To narrow it down, Clemons had the group type “black beauty” into the search box. Instead of black women, the first 50 pictures were of black horses. It wasn’t until the eighth or ninth row of pictures that there were finally some pictures of black women with natural hair. 

Black horses were more represented than black women on the biggest search engine in the world. 

Next, Clemons posed a question to the entire room. 

“In what ways, if there are any, are black people redefining what it means to be beautiful?”

Danielle Broomes, a senior digital media production major and e-board member of Textures, shared her answer.

“We’ve been embracing more of the natural products,” Broomes said. “We realized that we don’t have to settle for anything less. We can make our own businesses. We can make our own standards of beauty.” 

Textures is determined to bring a sense of community and love to black women and their hair on Kent campus and they don’t plan on stopping there.

According to Clemons, there are a lot of events planned for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Textures’ next event is going to be a sip and paint where they will talk about the public’s image on natural hair and how they can repaint that picture. 

“Our bigger picture is to educate the community on the importance of having your hair natural,” Clemons said. 

To stay active with all things Textures, follow them @ksutextures on Instagram and Twitter.

Kennedi Combs is a diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected]