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People of Progression putting the spotlight on Black hair care

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 18:05:05-05

APPLETON (NBC 26) — People of Progression says textured hair products and education are a struggle to find in the Fox Valley. They’re trying to fix that.

  • Local nonprofit People of Progression is putting on their second annual Afro Hair Fair.
  • They want to highlight the importance of hair products and education for textured hair.
  • Video shares two stories demonstrating the need for this kind of education in our neighborhood.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A local barber tells me it's time for cosmetology schools to throw away the textbook. They're not teaching enough about textured hair. I'm your Appleton neighborhood reporter, Olivia Acree, with a closer look at Black hair care in the Fox Valley.

Eight years into his barber career, Dartavious Woods is starting to see some attention on textured hair care. When he moved to the Fox Valley as a child, it was a different story.

“There weren’t too many barbers that were, you know, good at cutting Black people’s hair so we as kids started cutting each other's hair,” said Dartavious Woods, Overtime Kuts Owner.

Woods eventually went to cosmetology school but says lessons on textured hair were few and far between.

“That was for two hours maybe something like that,” said Woods.

Woods and others say the education and the products can be hard to come by.

“We know that people are not being educated in hair schools. We get a lot of families that come to us saying that they don’t have the expertise needed to make sure that their children feel their best and look their best,” said Kristen Kelly, People Of Progression Executive Director.

Kristen Kelly from local nonprofit People of Progression calls this an equity gap.

“There isn’t that community voice being able to say that this is really what we need,” said Kelly.

She used to work at a local domestic abuse shelter where she first discovered the gap.

“The shelter did not have any hair care items for Black community members or people with textured hair,” said Kelly.

But it's always been in the back of her mind.

“I was never able to find a salon,” said Kelly. “Once we found a hairstylist, I can tell you that I have been going to the same hairstylist for over 25 years because of the trauma that I experienced as a child.”

Woods shared a similar story.

“We struggled with finding a barber that could do our hair how we wanted,” said Woods.

To raise awareness, People of Progression are hosting an Afro Hair Fair where they’ll take donations for shelters. Plus, Woods and other local experts will talk about the history of textured hair and demonstrate some techniques.

“Show everybody the skills I got,” said Woods.

The Afro Hair Fair is from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 24 at Fox Valley Technical College.