Afro Hair: How Black Finns Are Taking on Racism

By Naima Mohamud, BBC NEWS

Afro Hair: How Black Finns Are Taking on Racism

The women behind the Good Hair Day: Paloma Sandberg (l), Vanessa Daniels, Michaela Moua,
Saida Mäki-Penttilä and Akunna Onwen . Photo by Pricilla Osei.

 

More than 50,000 people with African background live in Finland, according to Statistics Finland.

Michaela Moua is one of them. Born to a Finnish mother and Ivorian father, she is one of five Afro-Finns behind Finland’s only annual event dedicated to afro hair, the Good Hair Day. “You don’t see us in the Finnish society. We’re a visible but invisible minority,”she tells the BBC. The hair event, created to celebrate afro hair, was born four years ago. This year it was held on August 24.

Moua says the event, which consists of workshops and panel discussions, was born out of necessity. “We wanted to create an event that not only celebrated afro hair but was also educational and offered advice on how to take care of afro hair — especially for mixed race families,” she says.

Although the event is about hair, Moua says the issue combs deeper.

“Many of us [Afro-Finns] thought for a long time that we were alone and a lot of us felt very lonely. This was a way to bring us together and realize there are more of us than we thought.”

She says beauty standards prioritize Western beauty ideals and being brown or having afro hair is not seen as beautiful in Finland.
“A lot of us were born here but regardless, society tells us we are not Finnish. Who gets to be Finnish and what does being Finnish mean?” she asks.

 

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