Arise News is an online and satellite network that broadcasts to Europe, Africa and the United States since April. The brain child of successful Nigerian Publisher Nduka Obaigbena. Arise is not just covering international stories from a more colorful perspective, it is also encouraging the natural aesthetic of the African Diaspora to shine through. One new hire, Safiya Songhai, was surprised to have her news director actually encourage her to wear her hair natural, in an all out Afro.
Television news is often considered a place where women of color who are on-air talent must conform to a Eurocentric standard of hair beauty. Nearly all major broadcasters wear their hair in weaves, wigs, perms, presses or extensions.
Although Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC is two strand-twisting her hair while the natural hair grows in, most kinky-haired women on TV, don’t let their full-fro or curls grace the air-waves.
Songhai, an Emmy-Award Winning broadcaster and filmmaker was near tears when her news director, veteran journalist, Gary Anthony Ramsay actually encouraged her to wear her hair in a natural Afro style.
On the first day of the hair unveiling Ramsay said “See, doesn’t that feel better.”
Natural hair on the news was common in the 1970’s when it was a popular style nationwide. Since this era, few other black women have been given the green light to exhibit their hair confidence behind the news desk.
Black women spend approximately 9 billion dollars annually on hair care products. Much of that money is spent on an effort to change the natural kinky hair texture of an afro or curly hair. In contrast, Songhai says her natural probably costs about $50 a year to maintain.
” Black people can’t live in the shadow of another group of people and ever gain their respect. We have to stand at our full height, and with natural hair you stand taller in more ways than one.”
” The issue isn’t natural vs. straight hair, the issue is thinking that natural hair is not an acceptable option to corporate America. I change my hair all of the time, every two days to be exact. When I go into a professional setting, I shouldn’t have to un-africanize myself in order to be acceptable or non-threatening.”
– I will still wear my hair straight from time to time, but the Afro, kinks and curls will always be in my hair arsenal. I want women, young and old to look to me and remember their crown is already on their head. They don’t need East Indian hair, or Remy hair packs to present themselves to the world. I’m talking to the international world everyday and I’m going to do it, in an Afro.
www.SafiyaSonghai.com (Bio, clips, etc)