Ontario Grade 12 Student Creates Workshop to Teach Black Students to Take Care of Themselves – Kingston


Grade 12 student Tanesha Duncan-Zulu felt frustrated with the lack of beauty products and hair options for black people in Kingston, Ontario, and decided to host a workshop to give students the tools and knowledge to do it themselves.

“Having to travel to Ottawa to buy things is more expensive that way,” she says.

“I wanted a space where students could learn to do their own hair and find products.”

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The students also shared stories with each other about what it’s like to grow up in a predominantly white community.

A particular experience inspired Duncan-Zulu to create this workshop in the first place, giving black students a safe place to share.

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“One day I had my hair up in an afro and I remember the students laughing at it,” says Duncan-Zulu.

“They would say mean comments like ‘Oh I can’t see’, or touch my hair without asking. It made me want to straighten my hair, to the point of fitting in and blending in with my white peers .

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The workshop included presentations from hair and cosmetics professionals, who say empowering black students to take care of themselves is about more than hair and beauty techniques.

“I didn’t have access to that information, so I think about all the things that have happened to me in my life, in terms of skin and makeup, and my understanding of who I am – I didn’t have that” says MK Rowe, a professional makeup artist and one of the workshop’s guest presenters.

“I think it’s important to have it when you’re younger so you can grow in that understanding.”

Rowe says the cosmetics and haircare industry has become much more inclusive for the black community in recent years.

It is her hope that with more black representation, the next generation like Duncan-Zulu will feel confident to be unabashedly themselves.

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Black History Month: A one-man play honors the life of Josiah Henson

Black History Month: A one-man play honors the life of Josiah Henson


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