El PASO—In a unique and powerful show of cross-border solidarity and sisterhood, some 50 women from Texas and Mexico gathered along the international pedestrian bridge this morning to braid their hair together while some 2,000 miles away, Donald Trump was sworn into office.
The sun was just beginning to rise over the U.S.-Mexico border as the women gathered on the bridge that connects El Paso and Juárez, Mexico. They stood back-to-back, holding hands, and with their hair interwoven into a braid with the woman behind them. Blue hair was woven into black hair, and brown into blonde. Those with hair too short to braid tied scarves to their heads instead.
The demonstration of solidarity was organized by Boundless Across Borders, a new non-partisan community coalition inspired by the recent mobilization of women in response to the election of Trump.
Xochitl Nicholson, one of the organizers of the demonstration, said the decision to braid hair is symbolic in several ways. “We wanted something that referenced women directly, but that also sends a message about our common heritage and common backgrounds in a broader context,” Nicholson said. “It’s a symbol of collective strength.” For many women, hair is a deeply symbolic and intimate extension of our being. From the moment our hair is long enough, it gets braided—by our mothers, grandmothers, and friends. It is part of a physical and figurative bond among women. The braid itself, made up of equal parts that weave into one another like arms in an embrace, constitutes something greater than the sum of its parts. “I’m born a white American and I’m going to be braiding my hair with a Latina woman,” said Leah Gillespie. “It really marks this idea that, yes, we have our differences, but here are our similarities. And we’re binding those similarities in an act of solidarity." Sasha von Oldershausen fusion.net