By Lena Foster
Black women and men, with an array of differing hairstyles, not only stepped at The Bun Ministry 2.0: Officially Crowned event, but they slayed far past any societal radar.
Presented by Loud Women Lead, a nonprofit organization founded by Tashara Parker, The Bun Ministry 2.0: Officially Crowned took place at Crozier Hall this past Saturday and consisted of a mixture of Black hair-related demonstrations, discussions, and displays.
“We try to create this space where we basically take people to church about what it means to be authentic and like what it means to live this loud, bold life and what that looks like to you because it doesn’t look the same to everyone,” Parker said.
Tashara Parker, a Houston native, started the Bun Ministry, a Loud Women Lead campaign, in October 2020, when she wore a natural hair style with four buns during one of her news segments on-air.
Parker’s style choice went viral, and she received criticism about her professionalism as a journalist despite her extensive skill set, performance and community involvement. However, many people also expressed their support for her and her bold decision to showcase her natural hair as journalist, and from there, people started sharing their hair stories related to natural hair discrimination.
“And so I was like, well, what can I do to utilize my platform as a vehicle to help other people,” Parker said. “And so that’s where the Bun Ministry experience came from.”
This educational experience challenged people to look deeper into situations surrounding hair discrimination and how to actively vocalize their thoughts and opinions while creating a safe haven for all hair styles to gather.
From the moment attendees walked down to the event, they were already presented with many photo opportunities including giant, luminescent letters spelling ‘loud’, a giant and a backdrop with the words ‘bold, authentic, powerful woman’ with an assortment of black, brown and gold balloons.
Attendees not only received a refreshing feeling from the air-conditioning inside but also from the plethora of interactive options ranging from hair-care sessions to vendors to more photo opportunities, especially with the 360 photo booth provided by Elite 360 Experiences.
In two rooms opposite of each other in the venue, men and women got the chance to get to learn more about their hair. Various stylists and entrepreneurs held live demonstrations on wash-n-gos, flat twists, beard care and wrap installations, and attendees got a close-up look at these common hair-care routines where they could ask questions.
Sess Cannon “Sess Lee Curls”, founder and owner of a full textured salon in Arlington known as Flourish Curls Salon and Texture Academy, brought some of her stylists along with her to the event to show guests how to properly get through the flat twist process.
Cannon provided a set for Parker’s WFAA series “Rooted” promo at her salon, and continued to stay connected with Parker, which led her to getting involved with the event.
Cannon’s portion of the event included talks about hair structure and its correlation with product usage as well as an open forum for people to share their hair routines and what works for them.
“We focus on hair care and education for stylists as well as consumers,” Cannon said.
Cannon’s salon also gives young stylists the chance to learn about the business, the type of professionalism that comes with working with hair and how to perfect their skills for the future. DeAnna Barrett and Ariel Williams accompanied Cannon for the event and assisted her during the demonstration by being the models and also partaking in the hair styling procedure.
“This is an amazing opportunity, and it opens up doors for you to know that you can do so much more than just hair,” Barrett said.
Entrepreneurs such as Brittany La Bella of House of LaBella sold items such as head wraps and conducted a wrapping tutorial. Others such as Broderick Williams and Emery Sumberlin of Gold Link Beard Company sold all-natural beard care products with skin-catering supplement CBD and set up a beard treatment station for men.
Throughout the learning and networking hour of the event, attendees had freedom to get food and socialize while the popping DJ Queen Agnes played upbeat music that fit the enthusiastic vibes in the atmosphere. Women and men not only engaged with each other but danced and strutted down the room showing the different fashion statements that were being made in the vicinity.
Jamesia Nina Leonard, radio personality, kickstarted the program with her outgoing persona and a roll call for all hair styles and types. Not only did she kickstart the show, but she proudly introduced Tashara Parker as Parker entered in with her lively and brightly colored clothing as well as New-Orleans styled musical accompaniment played by her following band.
The first panel session included Brittany Noble-Jones, Jacob Rush II, Haley Taylot Sclitz, Iyani Hughes, and Germaine Gaspard discussing hair discrimination and the impact it could have in the workplace and in schools.
Schlitz, a 19 year old Los Angeles native, is a recent graduate of Dallas’ SMU Dedman School of Law and the youngest African-American woman to have earned a law degree in the nation. Schlitz experienced first hand discrimination as she was casted in a school play as a slave girl and informed that she would not win her pageants unless she straightened her hair.
According to Schlitz, organizations and events such as The Bun Ministry 2.0 help Black women feel inspired and supported.
“I love being surrounded by all these queens and kings,” Schlitz said. “I’m really thankful to be able to share my story with people who hopefully can get inspired and make their path in life and live out loud.”
The politics that ties into hair discrimination fuels Schlitz’s passion to pursue educational policy where she wants to help increase teacher diversity, implement legislation such as the Crown Act, and creating a more inclusive environment especially for students of color.
Other panelists such as Hughes experienced discrimination during her journalism journey when she was denied jobs for 2 years after graduating due to her hair despite her excelling portfolio and experience. Also, Rush II experienced hair discrimination when he was prohibited from walking across the stage at his high school graduation unless he cut his dreads.
Relating stories as such contributed to the event’s overall open environment for those who need a platform to express their experiences and connect with others.
“You feel the whole experience just by hearing other people’s stories and being able to relate to them and just know that you’re not the only person going through these types of discrimination,” Hughes said. “It feels like you’re free, and you’re around a community that loves you for who you are.”
The program transitioned into the second panel discussion that primarily focused on the educational aspect of hair and hair discrimination and The Crown Act, a law that prohibits discrimination surrounding cultural hair types and textures. Panelists for this portion of the event included Lee Merritt, Stephanie Boyce, Jaksyn Brown, State Rep. of Texas Rhetta Bowers, and April Holt.
Bowers has been working on getting The Crown Act incorporated in Texas since 2019 and has worked closely with Parker to get it fully incorporated in the Texas Law.
“We have to be ready to write those emails and to send those messages to your legislators at the state level and at the federal level,” Bowers said. “But not only that, you have to be willing to if you can take that journey and drive to the Capitol, to show up in person to be an advocate for The Crown Act because we all have our own hair stories, and we all can be that great advocate for our community.”
Panelists delved deeper into the logistics of the law and the benefits it provides for people as well as the current state of the law in Texas and the efforts that’s being made and needed to be made to get in instated.
According to Civil Rights attorney Merritt, The Crown Act has been approved by Congress and it needs to go through the Senate. However, Merritt is looking for the law to be mimicked at the state level as well, so it’s not just applied to federal agents. So far 17 states have passed it at the state level.
“It’s very important that celebrities, media, and the community has an opportunity to engage in these issues and push it to the forefront,” Merritt said. “That’s how we see traction and the laws actually getting changed.”
The program ended with a presentation of an original art piece depicting Loud Women Lead created by Chris Rayson “C-Ray”. There were also different art pieces decorated throughout the venue.
Guests were given raffle opportunities and goody bags provided by CURLS, one of the sponsors for the event.
Other sponsors included CosmoProf, Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc., Gamma+, Sexy Hair, Johnny B., Moroccanoil, Credit Union of Texas, Eberl, and Texas Advancement Center.