By: Josh Maxwell Illustration via: The Premier Legal Organization Fighting for Racial Justice
When dealing with diversity, it is important to understand not everyone has the same options as others. Black hair is no exception to this rule when trying to detangle the mystery behind hair texture. While there may be an infinite number of salons to go to, not many offer styling options when it comes to styling Black hair. This can make it very difficult for certain individuals who may want to get a silk press or a sew in. Our hair is a sacred treasure that not just anyone can touch. Many Black people end up having to get their hair done by family members, unlicensed practitioners, or even end up traveling to a different city. If you don’t believe me, just ask recent cosmetology graduate Cherrelle Gray. I sat down with this 2020 graduate to discuss her experience as a cosmetology student, what Black hair means to her, and how she’s been doing hair and makeup as a side hustle while in school.
When did you realize doing hair was something you wanted to pursue?
I realized it after I started doing my brothers hair and then I thought: “Why go to a salon to get my hair done when my family has been doing mine for years?” Just watching my cousin doing my hair and then me doing my family’s hair – it feels natural. I really love it because if no one else can do my hair, then I can do my own!
Do you feel that Black hair care is underrepresented in Corpus Christi?
It definitely is! I will say that there are maybe only three to four salons I know of that Black people can go to. I don’t want to be offensive, but I feel that not a lot of people know how to work on a Black person’s hair. You have to know how tight to braid our hair, and you have to know what hair texture you’re working with. You really have to be willing to work with it.
Do you feel there should be more spaces for Black people to get their hair done in Corpus Christi?
I believe that one hundred percent! I would love to go down the street from where I live and see a black hair shop open for business. Or maybe even drive downtown and see a black hair salon ready to take on the challenge of doing my hair!
Tell me a little about your education. Do you feel that it helped you in the long run with practicing hair?
Definitely! Graduating from Del Mar has taught me how to do Black hair, White hair, Hispanic hair, all types of hair. The program isn’t just for one type of person, it’s for everybody, because hair is for everybody.
What does Black hair mean to you?
To me, it means goddess because your hair is what you make it. Hair is beautiful and it can make you a goddess if you let it. You can rock it short, curly, natural, colorful, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Now that you have graduated from cosmetology school, what are your future plans?
I plan on taking my licensing exam in July. After I take it, I want to eventually try and expand my business into a salon. That’s why I’ve been working so much lately, so I can try and save up to make that happen.
Visit Cherrelle’s instagram to check out some of this local hair stylist work, and see just how much dedication goes into this young woman’s craft.