Natural hair org celebrates black beauty at 5th annual event

Guests could pay $3 to be entered into a raffle to win natural hair care products at Maryland MANE’s “My Black Is Beautiful” event on April 17. The raffle packages were put together for different types of natural hair: thin, thick or dry. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

Guests could pay $3 to be entered into a raffle to win natural hair care products at Maryland MANE’s “My Black Is Beautiful” event on April 17. The raffle packages were put together for different types of natural hair: thin, thick or dry. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

A student organization focused on providing black students with a space to appreciate their natural hair held its fifth annual celebration, called “My Black Is Beautiful” in the Grand Ballroom in Adele H. Stamp Student Union Tuesday evening.

Maryland Maintaining A Natural Essence (MANE) is a Black student organization targeted toward supporting black women in celebrating their natural hair and beauty.

Black women were not always celebrated for their features. For a long time and even still today, the darker your skin and the coarser your hair, the less beautiful a woman was deemed.

This year’s theme was “In Full Bloom.” MANE decorated the room accordingly: the tables had yellow flower petals and bright pink programs; executive board members wore flower headbands; and the photo backdrop featured string lights and vines with fake butterflies.

“Someone pitched the idea and we just ran with it,” said Ki Ki Hobbs, a senior broadcast journalism major, as well as webmaster and historian for MANE. “It’s going to be about growing, nourishment and flourishing.”

Part of the organization’s promotion for the event included executive board members handing out flowers with the event card pinned to it, Hobbs said.

Aligning with its natural hair focus, MANE partnered with different hair product companies like Oyin Handmade, Curl Theory Salon and Jessicurl to offer students products like curl creams, bonnets, shampoo and conditioner and other styling products. MANE also raffled off a hair service by Madison Lee, senior fire protection and criminal justice double degree student and secretary.

The hardest part in planning the event was not decorating the room, but reaching out to companies and waiting to hear back, Hobbs said.

While that was the toughest part, Hobbs said it was also the most rewarding aspect.

“It was great to hear [companies] say, ‘We love what you’re trying to do and we want to support you. How can we get involved?’” Hobbs said.

For Ama Frempong, a senior biochemistry major, the free hair samples struck a chord within her. The event demonstrated to her that there are people and companies who care about her.

“I can’t go to the Commons Shop and find Black hair care products at all. I have to go to Target,” Frempong said. “It’d be nice if UMD added some Black hair care products.”

In addition to corporate sponsors, the event was co-sponsored and supported by campus organizations and offices like the Black Student Union, the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advancement and the Department of African American Studies. The Makeup Society and the UMD chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers had tables with information at the event.

The fun didn’t stop with the raffles and refreshments. There was also entertainment from student performers. Dancers from Riddim Ryderz, a Caribbean dance troupe on campus, was one highlight of the night, giving a quick dance tutorial to the guests. Once guests learned the dance, they split in two groups and had a lighthearted dance battle.

Nthabiseng Cooper, a sophomore government and politics and African American studies double major, teaches attendees the first half of some choreography at Maryland MANE’s My Black Is Beautiful event on April 17. Cooper is a dancer on Riddim Ryderz, a Caribbean dance troupe. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

Nthabiseng Cooper, a sophomore government and politics and African American studies double major, teaches attendees the first half of some choreography at Maryland MANE’s My Black Is Beautiful event on April 17. Cooper is a dancer on Riddim Ryderz, a Caribbean dance troupe. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

“My Black Is Beautiful” was an event that resonated with students as a calm celebration and reminder to love who they are.

“Your hair becomes beautiful when you accept it,” Frempong said. “There are no rules for your hair. Just be you and don’t let anyone else tell you different.”