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Local author and cosmetologist aims to break misconceptions about hair and race at workshop

Posted at 7:25 AM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-14 18:23:40-05

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — On Sunday, former University of Akron football player Matthew Cherry won an Academy Award for Hair Love.

The short film showed an black man doing his daughter's hair and it renewed the conversation about black hair.

Ladosha Wright, an author and cosmetologist based in Cleveland Heights, wants to take it even further this weekend, by changing the way we think about hair and race.

"People aren't very well aware of the understanding of the history of hair,” Wright said.

"There are a lot of issues you know, surrounding hairstyles, who's wearing these hairstyles."

Wright, the owner of the Reverence Design Team Hair Salon, has made it her mission to provide the understanding by turning her book – “What They Don't Tell You at the Hair Salon" - into a workshop at the Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. branch this Saturday.

"We're going to take hair into a whole new different approach,” Wright said.

The book teaches people with textured hair how to care for it. The workshop expands on that while tackling other issues as well.

"The biggest misconception that I definitely want to touch on is that race has nothing to do with textures of hair. So we definitely want to clear that up.”

Wright says, historically, when people were split into race categories, hair texture was used as a qualifying characteristic. Then, as society began to view some races as lesser – qualities associated with those races, like hair texture, gained a negative perception.

Latif Hughes, a promoter and entrepreneur, has dealt with that negativity firsthand.

"I've always heard growing up, hey, you're not gonna get no good job if you wear your hair like that,” Hughes said.

"They discouraged whether I have a beard or, you know, long hair.

"We are still under the backdrop of that original description of race that says if your hair looks like this, then somehow you're uncivilized,” Wright said.

Instead, Wright says how people choose to wear their hair comes from their culture.

"Culture is learned behaviors. And that varies from people to people, place to place no matter where they live.”

That's why she supports the CROWN Act. It stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair" and looks to ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles that are commonly associated with a race or national origin.

Three states and two cities, including Cincinnati, have passed it. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown recently introduced a federal bill.

Wright says she believes it could help people feel more free to be themselves.

"The CROWN Act is not limited to people of color, because textured hair is on all people and to me that's the absolute like epitome of this act," Wright said.

"Who cares what color they are, if they want to wear it curly or they don't want to comb it, you know, that's perfectly fine."

The "What They Don't Tell You At The Hair Salon" workshop is Saturday, February 15 at the Cleveland Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. branch at 2 p.m. Registration can be found here.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.