The Black Hair Experience Is The Ode To Self-Love We Didn't Know We Needed

How did you learn to love your hair? This pop-up is all about celebrating that love.

Beauty & Fashion

What does Black hair mean to you? For me, it is a revolution and that's on PERIODT! Black hair has evolved over many years and we have seen it, in all its glory, take center stage to highlight the uniqueness of Black women. The styles, looks, the texture, the expression, all of it is an important component of how Black women make a statement in any room. It is our revolution, our rebellion, our beauty, and our crown. As a young girl, there are many instances where your hair experiences were a rite of passage that gave way to womanhood. Your first appointment to the salon, first relaxer, the first time being burned by a hot comb, the first time getting your hair straightened, we can go on and on here. I can distinctly remember the first time I went to the hair salon, my first stylist's name was Alandra and she was my introduction to loving my hair.

The power of a hairstyle can change a woman's perspective.

As the saying goes, when a woman cuts her hair, she is about to change her whole life. Every Black woman has her story about her hair and the many twists and journeys they have taken to own their independence by creating a look that fits them. Even still, there have been many instances of discrimination of our hair in the workplace, in media, in the schools and yet we still show up proudly with our tresses in tow. We have seen culture vultures take Black staple hairstyles like cornrows and braids and rebrand them as their own unsuccessfully. The resilience of Black hair culture has triumphed in legislation, such as the CROWN Act to end race-based hair discrimination passed on September 21, 2020, and mainstream culture to protect our rights to wear our hair however we see fit.

It is truly absurd for me to not wear the hair that I grow out of my head naturally in any way that I feel beautiful.

Black women have blazed a path in trend-setting our creativity and innovation in the beauty industry and we should be celebrated for that fact. In celebration of our hair and our story, The Black Hair Experience walks us down memory lane of all the things that make Black hair magical. According to The Black Hair Experience website:

"The Black Hair Experience is an interactive adventure that combines a pop-up art exhibit and a series of instagrammable spaces all in the name of celebrating black hair."

The Atlanta-based interactive pop-up was created by two friends, Elizabeth Davis and Alisha Brooks, who have a shared affinity for Black hair and pop culture. The two women collectively have a background in photography and graphic design that helped them bring this two-year vision to life. Elizabeth's original idea consisted of a photo passion project that documented the stories around Black women and their shared hair experiences. She shared this idea with Alisha who took it up a notch by imagining an interactive experience around Black hair and Black hair culture to elevate the storytelling.

Alisha shared, "We started focusing on what we really wanted people to get from the experience and focusing on self-love and reinforcement of Black hair being beautiful regardless of how you are wearing your hair and women owning that and us connecting through those shared experiences. That is really how the Black Hair Experience was born."

It is not only a celebration of Black hair but a reminder of all the nostalgia of the hair and culture that make Black women, Black people so vibrantly beautiful.

We have seen some tough days this year but out of that, there has been an elevation of Blackness that is undeniable. Whether it is has been social justice movements or Black women leading the grassroots efforts in the election, Black people have seen a helluva year. We deserve something that shines a light on us. Elizabeth touched on why this time was the right time for this installation despite the obstacle from the pandemic. She shared, "We both felt like this year was just so heavy, just in terms of the social justice movement and the way things have gone. The message we were trying to send with the experience was really about positivity within our community of self-love and acceptance and really rejoicing in some of our most valued moments in our life. We felt like we really wanted to put a smile on our communities face while keeping them safe."

Our hair is a part of that story and it is just so fitting to create such a fun and interactive experience for those of all ages to come, enjoy, and be reminded that, "Black hair has always been poppin!"

Opening this pop up has not come without its challenges, the original open date was June 2020 but COVID pivoted many of those plans. However, the co-owners decided they would not be deterred and continued forward to open with a plan of safety and a sense of duty to their community. "The decision was a hard one. We wanted to make sure that people knew that we were here and they had something to look forward to. We wanted to make sure that we hired cleaners, had air disinfectants, people wearing masks, and only had a certain amount of people in the space at a time," Elizabeth revealed.

"Once we felt confident in that and found a location that could accommodate the social distancing in the way that we wanted, we made the decision to move forward. Also, doing it for a shorter time as well, so people could recognize that we were here and have a moment with us. They could also join this journey with us until we open the bigger installations for us to be able to travel."

I had the opportunity to visit the pop-up and it was everything that I expected it to be and more. Keep scrolling to learn my top 3 Reasons you should visit The Black Hair Experience:

1. Black Hair Representation Is Important.

This activation has 15 fully immersive and vibrant installation curated for your instagrammable pleasure. There is everything from a swing that is adorned with braids, to a mini beauty supply store, to a small replica kitchen with hot combs as the theme. We asked the co-owners how they created each installation, Alisha stated, "We wanted to pull out the installations that tapped into nostalgia the most but also reinforced our concept of self-love. It was about finding the balance between the nostalgia and also reinforcing that message about loving your hair and accepting your hair."

2. Support Black-Owned Businesses For The Long Haul.

Not only will you be supporting two Black co-owners and their Black-owned business by purchasing tickets to The Black Hair Experience, you will also have the opportunity to spread the wealth by stopping by the retail space before you leave. All the vendors that are featured in the store are Black-owned businesses. They have everything from candles to combs to graphic tees, and all of them are absolute must-haves. This is also a part of a bigger plan to expand the retail space and includes many more Black-owned hair care businesses and more. This reflects a bigger idea because as we know Black hair is a multi-billion dollar industry that is not controlled by us. The Black Hair Experience aims to put that money back into our community.

3. Black Girl Joy Is Manifested Here.

It's really about the community, and more than that, being a vessel of joy for that community. As Elizabeth puts it, "We wanted to have a sense of joy was really a big part of it. We felt that the love that we have gotten from people and the joy that we have seen on their faces and the women who have cried in our space have made it worth its weight in gold for us to be able to open right now."

Black hair is more than just what is on top of our heads, it is a part of who we are and our lived experience. And that should absolutely be treasured.

There are future plans that the co-owners have to continue with the success of this Atlanta opening. First, there are plans to create a permanent location that will host more installations and the installation will change over time. The pop-up model will be traveling to other major markets in the US once COVID has been contained and reduced. Lastly, the co-owners really want to open the space to young women to host workshops on how to care for their hair. But most importantly, they want young women and girls to know they have a space the represents them and to know that Black hair is beautiful.

The interactive pop up is currently open in Atlanta until December 20. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit The Black Hair Experience webstie.

Featured image by Amer-Marie/Instagram

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Maya's story, written by Charmin Michelle.

I know this may come to a surprise so many, but here we are. Yes, I got a BBL. If you aren't aware, a BBL is a Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery process where the doctor uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, transfers the fat into the butt, resulting in added volume, defined curves, and a lift. It is technically lipo and a fat transfer. But yeah girl, this has been on my to-do list for a while. And now that I am able to afford it, I went for it.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Adulting is hard but packing up and moving from one living space to the next is even harder. As a young adult, leaving home to attend college 300 miles away, I was yearning for a change of scenery so much so I couldn't wait to pack my belongings and head to sunny southern California. With each transition, it wasn't an easy task, however, nine years and 10 roommates later, I finally have a place to call my own. As liberating as it is to be in a space that's all mine, this move is unlike any other. As a single woman, the responsibility of uprooting myself has been more challenging than I ever imagined. More than just saving dreamy home decor inspiration via Pinterest, making "my house a home" has been a process that's easier said than done.

Keep reading... Show less

Earlier today, I was talking to one of my closest male friends about some closure that he got with a particular woman in his life. She was someone he had met online and, although they were digging each other, she actually liked him more than he liked her. "Liked" in the sense that she wanted to move forward with the potential of it turning into something more serious and lasting, while my friend was fine leaving things casual. When he told me that she called him to let him know that she had met someone else who was on the same page with her and so she thought it would be best that she and my friend cool things off out of respect for what she was building with someone else, I appreciated my friend's response. He said, "Man, that made me respect her so much because a lot of women play games out here. She was direct, it was a 'clean close' and that makes me open to always staying in touch, no matter what."

Keep reading... Show less

If there's one thing Historically Black Universities are known, it's fostering a sense of interconnectedness for collaborative genius to thrive. Of all campuses, it was on the soil of The Mecca, Howard University, where She'Neil Johnson-Spencer and Nicolette Graves rooted their friendship and aligned their passion for beauty and natural brains. Today, the two have founded a skincare brand of their own, Base Butter, that has not only carved out their niche space in the market but rallied a community of women to glow from the inside out.

Keep reading... Show less

While I'm pretty sure that all of us get the gist of what body language is, if you're looking for a way to easily define it, it's when you use your mannerisms and expressions (including one's tone) to communicate with other people. Although it's been said for many years that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, more studies are revealing that it is somewhere around 60-70 percent. Either way, what we do know for sure is, when it comes to how people respond and react to how you engage them, your body language plays a really significant role.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts