'Nappy Hair Stories' celebrates black women's relationship with hair

February 17, 2020 | UHCL Staff

'Nappy Hair Stories' celebrates black women's relationship with hair

Celebrating natural hair can be a struggle for some African American women, but with a film entitled “Hair Love,” directed by former NFL player Matthew Cherry winning an Oscar, there are more conversations about promoting hair love. On Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m., the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake will continue the conversation with a presentation of “Nappy Hair Stories,” written and performed by Laura D. Oliver.

“Nappy Hair Stories” is Oliver’s conversation with the audience about her relationship with her hair. 

Lecturer in Communication Andrea Baldwin invited Oliver to travel to UH-Clear Lake from Louisiana State University to perform the piece. “What’s important about Laura’s show is that she talks about the politicized discourse surrounding black femme hair,” Baldwin said. “The show discusses the politics around black hair, how our hair is policed by people who are not black, and also policed people from within the black community as well.”

Oliver’s show extends the conversation, she said. “The hope is to spark conversation and dialogue on this topic.”

Baldwin said the show is about all black women’s hair in general. “It’s about being seen and acknowledged,” she said. “When we see each other, we understand what it’s like to have our hair policed. And because of that policing, many of us spend a lot of time working on our hair, so it’s a discussion about what it means to go to a hair salon or a beauty supply shop and beyond.”

She said that many African American women shared a childhood story similar to her own. “My hair has always been chemically straightened, and any natural kink or curl was to be combed out. I used relaxers most of my life,” she said. “After doing a lot of research and having many conversations, I decided to wear my hair naturally about six years ago. First, I had to find out from others what it was like and how you do it. For many of us who have natural hair, it’s the first time in our lives we are learning to manage our hair as it naturally grows out of our heads.”

Oliver’s presentation is about the journey and conversation we have about black hair, Baldwin said. “It’s about how others have discourse with it. With the Oscar win, it’s a timely and important discussion,” she said.

“This performance is in conjunction with Black History Month and we’ve been working with the Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on a workshop on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. in the Student Orgs room of the Student Services and Classroom Building,” said Baldwin.

Read more about the Bayou Theater online.