This is the second post from our new column highlighting the voices and experiences of students of color on Brown’s campus. In this entry, Raquel Bryant ’15 discusses her mixed hair.
“I am not my hair.”
As a woman of mixed race—a “blendiva,” if you will—my life has been filled with the “What are you?” question, being called “exotic” and, of course, filling in the “Other” bubble when asked about my race/ethnicity. Full disclosure: I identify as mixed race: my dad is black and my mom is Peruvian, and apparently when you mix those up you get me and my siblings. But, you know what else you get? A spectrum of hair textures that neither parent quite knows how to deal with: not as kinky as my dad thought it should be and nowhere near as straight as my mom dreamed it would be. I spent mornings before elementary school with a spray bottle, a wide tooth comb, tears in my eyes and a very frustrated parent. But I am not alone in my quest to understand my hair. Curly girls of all skin colors and many women of color, especially black women, have been experimenting, inventing and innovating in the realm of hair products for decades.
My friends love to ask me, “How do you know so much about hair?” and I think back to the hours I have spent reading reviews, watching YouTube videos, and listening to my older sister rant about hair. My knowledge of hair didn’t stem from general interest, it grew out of necessity. I can’t just walk into CVS and buy a shampoo or conditioner that is good for my hair. The same way that “nude” tights are made for a certain type of nude, most mainstream hair products are made for a certain type of hair. (Ever notice the “ethnic” hair care section? #problematic.) I had to do research and experiment and talk to other women of color with similar hair types to find out what would work best for me. In other words, I most definitely did not “wake up like dis.”
Most mornings before elementary school, the battle with my hair ended with a giant puff on my head. And right there, in elementary school, is where I first became aware of my “different” hair. What really stuck out to me was that my hair seemed to defy gravity while all the other little girls had straight hair that laid down flat. My hair wasn’t controlled by headbands, I couldn’t run my fingers through it, and it was definitely not blonde. I found myself lusting after the silky, shiny, flat hair I was surrounded by.
My Saturday night.
Many people outside of College Hill think that Brown students run around naked all of the time. Jesse Watters’ sensationalized coverage of PW’s Nudity in the Upspace didn’t quite help with this image either. The reality, however, is that the majority of Brown students have never participated in a naked event. Nudity on campus (that is beyond the dormitory showers) is somewhat like a secret society—the Naked Donut Run itself is a very selective and exclusive underground network. Given the low chances of successfully infiltrating the NDR, your best shot of putting your birthday suit on display is to attend a naked party.
Naked parties are not the easiest things to find. You get invited via email a few days beforehand and word doesn’t spread as far as you might think. Although there is not a list at the door, you’ve basically got to be within two degrees of separation to end up at one of these things. Many Brunonians wait until the end of their senior year to hit up a naked party. We at BlogDH figured that a bunch of you are curious about what it’s like, or want to know what you may get yourself into. Surely you have wondered at some point, what would the world be like if nobody wore clothes. Well, as the sacrificial lamb, I found out what a college house party would be like if no one wore clothing. I am honored to present: Anatomy of a Naked Party (We like to make jokes here at BlogDH).
I was initially nervous that I would have to make my way to the party wearing nothing but my skin. One of the preliminary emails gave me relief by instructing that there would be a changing room and that I should bring a bag for my clothes. I decided not to do any out of the ordinary—my idea was that if I’m going to be naked, I might as well look like my usual self.
There were stringent rules for this naked party:
- There were no cameras allowed in the space, for obvious reasons.
- It was frowned upon to show up extremely intoxicated, particularly considering the whole bare feet and vomit conundrum.
- It was explicitly stated in the party invitation that any kind of touching, sexual or not, must be consensual.
Happy Sunday, April 20th! Find the one BearDailyHerald-shaped Peep we hid under one of the bleachers at the Brown Stadium, eat it because you were really hungry, and then order the “Specialty Chicken” from Domino’s — more on that later — because a single Peep probably won’t satisfy you.
College Hill ‘Dependent 6, Herald 5. The Herald regrets the error. The overall Herald vs. Indy series record now stands at 12 for The Herald and 4 for the Indy.