Valerie Carpenter (’20) will participate in two panel discussions as part of the Trauma, Tresses and Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narrative conference, a two-day virtual event examining the politics, policing, and perception of African American and Afro Latina women’s natural hair in American society.
Tickets for the conference, which is set to begin on Saturday, August 7, are on sale now.
“For me, I am highly interested in Black hair and the stigmas and misconceptions that come along with it,” Carpenter said. “I try to educate people on the importance, creativity, and versatility of Black hair. What some may see as a distraction, I see as an attraction of our endurance from years of hurt and mistreatment.”
Carpenter’s first panel, “When Children's Hair Breaks School Rules” examines at the ways school authority figures can threaten students of color for wearing their hair the way it naturally grows. The panel will ask the questions: When children’s natural hair breaks school rules, what is the appropriate, effective response? And what recourses are available? And how do you frame the fight for affected, hurt, and traumatized students? In addition to Carpenter, the participants include Sulma Arzu-Brown, Micah A. Bledsoe-Holland, and Dr. Regis Fox.
Her second panel, “Is Hair Discrimination Race Discrimination?” explores workplace and other types of race discrimination through the lens of natural hair culture and also includes Tyrice Brown, Nkeiruka Oruche and RachelSimone Wyley.
Carpenter met the conference organizer through a program she put on for the Marin County (California) Free Library called “The Black Hair Movement. “
“Based on my presentation of information, I was invited to lead a panel for the August conference that showed my passion and expertise of Black hair,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, who works as a Homeless Outreach Specialist for Community Connection in Washington, D.C., devoted her Clinton School Capstone project to conducting best-practice research on eradicating homelessness in Santa Rosa, Calif.
This academic year, Carpenter will serve as Chair of the Clinton School Alumni Board.
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.