Korea.net has launched a new collaborative project with its honorary reporters around the world. Each honorary reporter will write a story on the same topic, but from each of their own home cities. The stories will then be shared with our community of Korea.net readers.
For the first subject in the series, Korea.net asked our honorary reporters to send in a touching story from their home communities. Here’s our second story on this subject, from colombia.
In an increasingly globalized world, where we are all interconnected, identity is what keeps us in tune with our territory. The encounter with our culture is an oft mentioned theme and thousands of people around the world have begun to lead processes of self-recognition that allow the acceptance of those differences that make us so unique.
In Cartagena de Indias, one of the most important cities in Colombia, was born the “Pelo Bueno” project (Good Hair) with which Cirle Tatis Arzuza seeks to claim, with the help of social networks, the importance of Afro hair as a sign of pride for Black people.
It all started when Cirle stopped smoothing her hair, allowing her natural curls to grow. This attracted many mocking and derogatory comments from acquaintances and even relatives. “I thought about how much that affected me and it made me doubt my decision to stop smoothing my hair, even leading me to feel insecure and ugly. And if it affected me, who was 27-years-old and have a professional career, how could it not affect those of new generations who are growing without referents and often without support from their parents?”
Mockery and rejection doesn’t always make us lower our heads. Sometimes, it can serve as an engine to start a new process. That’s how in the middle of 2016 Cirle decided to open a fan page on Facebook — now with 12,974 followers — and a YouTube channel with the name “Pelo Bueno” where, in addition to teaching people with Afro hair how to care for it and maintain its naturalness, it also reveals the historical and political value that comes with curly hair.
The reception has been so great that people from different countries in Latin America write to tell not only the experiences of racism they have experienced, but also how important it is to have Cirle as a reference and inspiration.
Cirle was awarded with the “Afro-Colombian of the year 2016” recognition in the social sector category. This award recognizes people whose work contributes especially to the development and equity of the Colombian Afro-descendant population.
“Pelo Bueno” is a cry of protest against the stereotypes of beauty that try to place us all under the same mold, making us hate the natural, our roots, our territory and ourselves.
By Kevelyn Ravelo Sarabia
Korea.net Honorary Reporter
Photo: Clara Mendoza