December 6, 2016

Shenequa Brooks

Shenequa Brooks

Hair, like skin, is political. To shine a bright light on this reality, on September 15, 2016 the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had this to say about dreadlocks (a black hair style): “We recognize that the distinction between immutable and mutable characteristics of race can sometimes be a fine (and difficult) one, but it is a line that courts have drawn … [and] There have been some calls for courts to interpret Title VII more expansively by eliminating the biological conception of ‘race’ and encompassing cultural characteristics associated with race,” but that he wasn’t prepared to lead that inquiry regarding discrimination.” ~U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, Huffington Post. Jordan shrank back from stetting precedent in the case.

The politics of skin and hair are fundamental to racism and white supremacy. This effects how black and brown persons move through this world. It is the reason the issue of black hair reached the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This court, instead of setting precedent, followed numerous other courts that handed down negative rulings which limit the life prospects of black persons whose hair does not conform to white cultural norms.

Shenequa Alexandria Brooks was raised in Miami, Florida where she graduated Suma Cum
Lade from New World School of the Arts High School. She received her Bachelors of Fine Art
with an emphasis in Fibers at Kansas City Art Institute. A resident alumna at Charlotte Street
Studio Residency Program in Kansas City, Missouri, Brooks is currently pursuing her Masters in
Design for Fashion, Body & Garment at School of the Art Institute of Chicago under the
mentorship of Nick Cave and Liat Stemad.

Brooks has exhibited her work in various group shows such as Government Cheese: Poverty,
Addiction, & Violence, Fresh:KCAI Alumni, and cover reveals in Seattle, Washington to name a
few. A Featured Artist for Ties that Bind in American Craft Magazine Brooks discusses
sisterhood, use of synthetic hair in braiding, and weaving sculptural objects/wall pieces. She is
interested in creating bonds between the African and African-American cultures together.

Brooks has been featured in the Kansas City Star speaking about her work in relationship to
the African American Hair Experience. The Center for Craft Creativity & Design awarded
Brooks the prestigious Windgate Fellowship. This fellowship provided travel funding to Anloga,
Ghana in West Africa for three months where she learned how traditional Ghanaian textiles were
woven in addition to the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show & Madame CJ Walker Museum
in Atlanta, Georgia to research contemporary hair-styles for African American women.

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Theme: Hair Politics

“Appeals Court Rules Employers Can Ban Dreadlocks At Work” Themed Reading (recommended)

“School Policy: Black Female Students to Straighten Their Hair” Themed Viewing (recommended)

Event Question: Why is natural hair, unlike skin, an area of dispute with regard to racism, and racist laws and policy?

Event Location: L’Ecole Culinaire, 310 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64112.

Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

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Production of this Salon~360 event is supported in part by ArtsKC.
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