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Afro Day N.B. campaign hopes to spark conversations about respecting hairstyles

Thursday is the first Afro Day New Brunswick -- a community-wide campaign promoting the acceptance and celebration of Black hair, and acknowledging hair in other cultures.

Aaliyah Lahai, who came up with the campaign, says the idea stems from her childhood.

“As a young child, my mom would braid my hair, you know that story of having relatives doing your hair, and it was so personal,” Lahai said during an interview with CTV Morning Live Atlantic. “They also told me stories about what the different styles represent.”

Lahai says although she was very proud of her hair, respect from others was not always there.

“My mom would tell me these stories and she’d braid my hair and I’d be so proud to carry them to school, and sometimes I faced a little bit of bullying or a little bit of micro-aggressions.”

Lahai says, as she grew up, she starting hearing stories similar to what she experienced growing up.

“As I got older, and I have been braiding so long, I started hearing stories about how youth today, Black youth in New Brunswick, are still experiencing some of those barriers,” she said.

Lahai says comments made about people’s hair can be harmful.

“I think it stems from understanding the irreparable damage sometimes comments towards not just Black hair, but the hair of children of color in general, does to the self esteem, especially in cultures where hair is revered and it’s sacred, and it’s a huge part of the culture, and recognizing that,” she said.

She says that’s what made her decide to do something and spark a conversation.

“I thought, ‘why not do a media campaign,’ a community-wide response celebrating Black hair and teaching others of the importance of hair, not just in Black cultures but Indigenous cultures and other cultures in our world.”

Afro Day New Brunswick is hoping to open a dialogue and educate people about why hair should be respected, as well as different styles and their meanings.

“Allies can get involved as well, having that roundtable discussion with your family, and kind of just breaking those barriers and opening dialogue. Hair is important in various cultures, so it needs to be respected,” said Lahai.

While this is the first year for Afro Day New Brunswick, Lahai says it will be an annual occurrence.

For the latest New Brunswick news, visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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