A revived initiative at one of Maryland’s most esteemed schools is bringing together the “naturalistas” of the university’s community.
Towson University’s The Naturalistas Club, as the founding members named it, was designed to encourage students who rock natural tresses how much power lies within their hair. At the beginning of each club meeting, members are asked to recite an affirmation.
“My hair is strong, short or long,” the members say in unison. “My hair is powerful, broken or filled. My hair is history, so it’s more than a look. I express myself through hair with style beyond compare. Curls to braids, locs to fades, my brothers and sisters do it naturally. We are naturalistas.”
The Naturalistas Club was formed in 2013, according to Student Affairs documents, although the club became inactive after not meeting the minimum requirements to be considered an official university organization. Upon hearing the news, Sophomore Jay Williamson revived the club as a way for students to “assert themselves” through their hair.
Since the club was reinstated, it has gained over 100 members. Seventy-eight of them signed up through Towson University’s official channel.
“I’m really excited because I was like, ‘okay, people really want to join this, people want to get involved,’” Williamson told The Towerlight, Towson Unversity’s official news publication. “And that made me really happy. It feels like I’m a part of something bigger. It’s not just a club. It’s something that I can embrace. It’s something that I can carry with me.”
Williamson further added that the club was a necessary part of the college experience for many women of color who attend predominately White institutions.
“Even though we have a huge Black community here, I still think it’s important that we help people of color have a safe space to express themselves,” she said.
The future appears bright for the Naturalistas Club, Williamson and other members believe, and they are in the process of planning a Black hair throughout history fashion show.
When members were asked what is one word they would use to describe Black hair, “freedom,” is what one member said.
“Joyful,” said another.