GALLERY: Celebrating Black identity and hair at the Museum of Science

By Hsuan Ma

Boston University News Service

The Museum of Science hosted events on February 10 and 11 to mark Black History Month, featuring a diverse range of activities from the premiere of the “Rerooted: What’s Hair Got to Do with It” exhibition, panel discussions, live music, and interactive workshops.

“Rerooted: What’s Hair Got to Do with It?” exhibition runs from Feb. 10 to March 2024. Photo courtesy of Hsuan Ma/BU News Service

“Rerooted: What’s Hair Got to Do with It?” It aims to celebrate blackness through the intimate and personal perspective of hair. It also engages the community in a broader conversation about identity and cultural heritage.

“You can see yourself not just through the lens of suffering or anger but through the lens of beauty,” said Michele Avery, curator of the exhibition. “See yourself as your beautiful self, and hear your stories and hear them validated.”

The exhibition highlights the significance of exploring black identity through natural hair, a topic that has received increased attention following the enactment of the Crown Act in Massachusetts on July 22, 2022, which prohibits discrimination based on natural or protective hairstyles. Avery mentioned the ongoing conversation about hair and self-acceptance within the black community, noting that this discussion is now reaching a wider audience.

“This conversation around hair is not a new one. It’s finally taking on the main stage,” said Avery. “Black people have been talking about the issue of just accepting our hair, accepting ourselves and our hair as we are for decades.”

Yvette Modestin, curator of “Rerooted: What’s Hair Got to Do with It,” shares the exhibition’s stories during the weekend talk. Photo courtesy of Hsuan Ma/BU News Service

Yvette Modestin, another curator of the exhibition, pointed out the exhibition’s focus on the common humanity shared by all “It is the humanity that connects us, as the audience can see themselves in someone’s story,” said Modestin. “They can see the humanity of who we are beyond the color of our skin, beyond the texture of our hair. I think that’s what is happening: people will see blackness differently.”

The Museum of Science also featured “A Beautiful Resistance,” a project by The Boston Globe’s culture columnist Jeneé Osterheldt. This project, including a family edition presented during a weekend panel with contributions from Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras cellist Adanna Obi and singer Grace Porter, celebrates the achievements of Black artists and journalists.

The museum has planned special events beyond the opening weekend. These include a dance performance by OrigiNation, panel discussions led by Boston-based scientists, a music set by Cliff Notez, Dutch ReBelle, and an appearance by Roxbury hip-hop artist Oompa.

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