Featured, Local News

BIPOC hair clinic comes to Rutland – Juneteeth event is nearly sold out

By Victoria Gaither

The NAACP Rutland Area Branch is hosting a second Juneteeth hair clinic for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community this year after the first hair clinic last year was a success.

“We provided hair braiding services last year for the children. Altogether, we helped at least 25 children in 2021,” said program coordinator La’Keiah Batista Sanchez.

Courtesy La’Keiah Batista Sanchez
A girl smiles after participating in last year’s Rutland hair clinic.

When the word went out for this year’s free Rutland hair clinic on June 19 at 9 a.m., parents started signing up. Sanchez said the reason is simple.

“Just as simple as having your hair done can affect your mood, especially as a child,” Sanchez said. “Starting in third and fourth grade, children start noticing and paying attention to the fact that they look different from everyone else their hair is not the same, and their clothes are not the same. They start to get bullied, and this leads to our children not only becoming depressed but also suicidal.”

She added in Vermont, there aren’t many services for kids of color to get their hair braided or boys to get a fresh haircut, so Juneteeth is an excellent month to show kids their heritage while building confidence.

Bob Bruttomesso from Middletown Springs, who has a biracial daughter, benefitted from the Rutland hair clinic last year. He said his daughter Gabby feels different because of her hair.

“I think she still feels awkward or different having hair that is different from many of her peers living in a state with limited diversity,” Bruttomesso said.

To that end, that’s why the Rutland hair clinic is critical. It gives the kids a chance to ask questions about their hair, braids, and all that goes along with being BIPOC.

Bruttomesso also explained that his reasons are self-serving.

“I selfishly go to learn different and better ways to take care of her hair. Lastly, they taught me about products that I was unfamiliar with and gave us free products,” Bruttomesso said. “The word, ‘sample’ would have implied small size bottles, but we got full-size bottles/products.”

Sanchez says they have a few more slots left in the Rutland clinic. For more information visit: naacprutland.org/2022/04/29/hair-clinics.

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