December 10, 2019 Dedication Day South’s Heart – Family Welcome Center

Principal Stringer, Assistant Principal Rodriguez, and family engagement coordinators Esmeralda.Duran-Silvan and Mohamed Bulhan hosted over 30 people to celebrate the opening of South’s Heart.  Ten students created a welcoming area with a kids corner, art supplies, myth busting flags and symbols, story writing contest,  inspirational quotes board and Adopt- A- Book library for culturally appropriate books.

Representatives from funders,  The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Herman Milligan and Art to Change the World Director, Barbara Bridges, project manager, Laura Mann-Hill and member, Martha Bird,  led the group in a unity activity around the  See. Say DO. Peace Pole.  Thanks to  ACW artist Wesley May for donating his See. Say. DO mural.  Mohamed translated and led the group in earning how to say  How are you and I am fine in Somali. Everyone enjoyed the Somalian tea and  Latino snacks sponsored by South High School.  We had several special guests including Ben Mchie,  from the African American Registry.

Krista won the attendance award and Rayna won the essay contest with her work “HAIR”.  See Following.















Rayna Acha

I spent hours between my mom’s legs as she delicately combed through my thick curly hair. Leave-in conditioners and fruity detanglers assisted in our journey. Sometimes I would cry, the tiniest pull upset my tender head. My mother felt frustrated each time we prepared to comb the beast whose kingdom was my head. Her thin straight hair was nothing like mine so she took her time trying to tame my hair with braids and barrettes. By fourth grade, we both wanted an easier solution. My mom wanted my hair to be cut short but I wasn’t comfortable with the thought. Chemicals were the option given in the media for hair like mine and both of us didn’t know any better. A “relaxer” was the solution but it only added to the underlying problem.

When I was young, my perception of myself was a direct reflection of western standards of beauty. Throughout the first fourteen years of my life, I looked down on myself for my African features and kinky hair. Since I was ashamed of my curly locks, I wore my hair in a bun for what felt like a lifetime. But in the summer before high school, my hair had a knot that I couldn’t comb out no matter how hard I tried. Trust me I tried. That resulted in me cutting most of my hair off. The cut was so short that I was then forced to wear it natural. When I first cut it I was worried that it would make me look less feminine, a fear that I had since childhood about short hair. Even though I understood that hair length has no correlation with femininity and masculinity I was nervous about how people would perceive me.

The “big chop”, what black women call cutting off their damaged hair in order to go natural, led me to process my relationship with my hair, and I broke down the mental barriers I had about beauty standards and femininity. I learned that natural black hair is beautiful and I started to take care of myself more. The beast I once tried to tame is now a way I express myself. Now I take pride in my hair. My hair has grown much longer, has been braided and pampered by me. It is my crown, a symbol of self-growth and a change in my opinion. Not only is my hair healthier but so is my idea of myself. I still have a long way to go in my journey towards self-love, but now I can navigate through magazines, social media, etc. and understand that what I see isn’t the only definition of beauty, it is just what our society has deemed as beautiful.