Organisers of World Afro Day 2021 are encouraging pupils across the UK to take part in an interactive worldwide educational event that promotes natural hair.
"The Big Hair Assembly" launches today as part of the fifth anniversary of World Afro Day - where Afro hair, identity and equality are celebrated.
Pupils and teachers from all backgrounds across the UK are being encouraged to sign up for the gathering, that will be held in September in London. It will be live-streamed to schools and students across the world.
Pantene research has recently revealed:
at least 93% of black people have experienced micro-aggressions related to their hair
And World Afro Day's Hair Equality Report has shown:
a 67% rise in negative Afro hair policies at school
What can I do at The Big Hair Assembly in September ?
Pupils and teachers will be able to log onto the interactive virtual event, and take part in a number of activities. There will be prizes for schools and individuals, guests, live interaction, spoken word, international Youth Panel contributors, news and discussion.
A special student film competition will also launch in May and the winning compilation will be shown at the assembly in September.
The Big Hair Assembly is backed by the following education unions, as part of a drive to educate students on the topic from an early age:
ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders)
NAHT (voice of school leaders)
NASUWT (trade union representing teachers, including headteachers)
NEU (National Education Union)
Voice Community (union for education professionals)
Who is involved with this year's celebrations ?
YolanDa Brown (UK host)
YolanDa is a double MOBO-award winning saxophonist in the UK, known for her fusion of reggae, jazz and soul. She's also an award-winning TV and radio broadcaster. YolanDa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by the University of East London and was also invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. She's also the Chair of Youth Music, the largest music education charity in the UK.
Tashara Parker (USA host)
Tashara Parker is a host for News 8 Daybreak Anchor in the USA. She wore her natural hair to work in a bun last year, and her social media post on the issue was seen nearly two hundred thousand times. In it, she asked " Why does my crown offend you?"
Tais Vinolo, ballerina
The first Big Hair Assembly launched in 2019 with 11,500 pupils signing up from eight countries.
For 2021, organisers are hoping for a bigger global reach, and say feedback from earlier assemblies has been encouraging, with people from all backgrounds taking something away from the events.
Helen, the Theatre Manager at the Langley Park School for Boys, speaking about an earlier assembly, said “I did the Big Hair Assembly this morning, which is fantastic and taught me no end. I honestly didn’t realise there was a problem with Afro hair at all. And I’ve worked in theatres in Catford and Lewisham etc for many, many years. Afro hair it’s beautiful, really, really beautiful". Charlotte, who attended the Big Hair Assembly in 2019 said "This is such an empowering event that teaches everyone about Afro hair and is super fun to be part of. I feel more confident about my hair now and will wear it with P R I D E".
May 2021 - launch of special student film competition - the winning entry will be shown at the assembly in September
15th September 2021 - World Afro Day for schools, including The Big Hair Assembly