MASS celebrates Black History Month with "Black Hair Care" event

Detroit freshman Isysess Davis hands a hairpiece to her friend, Tuesday Feb. 8, in the Bovee University Center.

The Multicultural Academic Student Services office was packed with students at an event celebrating Black hair. 

Following the theme of Black health and wellness, "Black Hair Care" was one of 15 other events organized by MASS for Black History Month. Students and staff gathered on Feb. 8 in the Bovee University Center room 108 for a presentation about the history of Black hair and its importance to Black identity.

Hair products, purchased from Bantou Beauty Supply in Lansing, were also given away for free. 

Makalya Osborn, a resident assistant in Calkins, organized the event. She said there are no Black hair shops in Mount Pleasant. 

"As a Black woman, this is not something I have access to," Osborn said. "I have to drive two hours home to Battle Creek to go buy stuff. I wanted to make sure people knew this is something that's important to Black students." 

Samantha Chime, an inclusion assistant in Robinson Hall, gave a presentation with Osborn about the history of Black hair and what it means to Black identity. Chime discussed how she and other Black people celebrate themselves through their hairstyles. She also recognized the oppression Black people have faced for wearing their natural hair instead styles imposed by a white society.

"Societal pressure should not make you perm your hair," Chime said. "We've seen what it does to people who are not supposed to have a perm in their hair. It will actually make you bald-headed."     

The importance of hair as a part of Black identity was a key subject in the presentation. Ypsilanti freshman Niaela Massey said she is always expressing herself through her hair.

"The first week of classes, I changed my hair three times," Massey said. "My roommates were like, 'Wow, what's going on?' I was like, 'This is just me'. It makes me happy instead of making someone else happy."  

MASS Interim Assistant Director Wade Tomson said there are Black hair products sold at a vending machine in the UC near Starbucks and in the Towers and East campus markets. He said the office is also working with Chartwells to offer products in the North campus market and expand the selection at each location.  

The event was sponsored by the Residence Housing Association.

The next event celebrating Black History Month is a showing of the movie "When They See Us" at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the Bovee UC room 302.