Known for her unique cultural perspective, Arial Robinson, a junior journalism student at N.C. A&T uses various art mediums to display the true essence of African American culture. She is the author of The Modern Day Black Alphabet Book and has recently released her second book, Black Hair Care in Color.
Last year during quarantine, Robinson created an alphabet photo series and began sharing it on several of her social media platforms. The series displayed each letter of the alphabet paired with a photo reflective of everyday African American life and culture. Each photo was created by Robinson to show an intricate and intimate visual of the African-American experience.
“Whenever an idea first comes to my mind, I try to get it down to its most elementary stage,” Robinson said. “There is no language without the alphabet and people can not communicate without it.”
A few of Robinson’s friends and supporters suggested that she make her photography series into a book, and from that, the photo series blossomed into “The Modern Day Black Alphabet Book.” Robinson believed she did not have much to lose and before she knew it, nearly 2,500 had purchased her book. “The Modern Day Black Alphabet Book” is now being purchased by people all over the nation at mainstream resellers.
Due to the massive success of her first book, Robinson decided to further her creative entrepreneurial journey by releasing a collection of drawings categorized by color in a new book, “Black Hair Care in Color.” The book was released on Feb. 3 and features drawings of Black hair care products and styles in different colors.
Arial spoke on the process of turning her ideas into books, Black women expressing themselves through their hair, handling “hair depression” and finding security in expressing herself openly.
Hair Depression can be defined as a period in which our hair isn’t “done” or “fixed”, so it affects how we feel about ourselves. Why do you think “hair depression” can take a toll on African-American women?
Arial: “My hair and outfits are a reflection of who I am. When our hair is not right it takes a toll on our daily productivity. Our hair talks numbers for us, even if we do not want it to. My hair is directly correlated to my feelings and emotions. If my hair and outfit is fly then I feel overly prepared to take on the day.”
What does an African-American woman’s hair say about herself?
Arial: “I think a black woman’s hair is a direct expression of herself. We experiment a lot and it shows how complex and diverse we are with our kinks and coils being a reflection of our character.”
How did you find security in expressing yourself openly?
Arial: “I do not think overdressing exists, if anything everyone else is underdressed. It makes people uncomfortable to see me feeling good and standing in my purpose. I am unapologetically myself. Find out what works for you and block out all the negativity.”
Explain to your followers and supporters the process behind turning your ideas into books.
Arial: “In August 2020, I began to experiment with different projects, but it took me a while to figure out a clear way to portray colors. The foundation of hair is the products we use. I made it a priority to highlight the history of hair so that it can be digested easily. I want a story to come from each product.”
What can the public expect next from Arial Robinson?
Arial: “Right now, I am focused on school, developing my own black creative workspace, pushing out more projects, and preparing for my third book to be released by the end of 2021.”
Both of Robinson’s books, “The Modern Day Black Alphabet” and “Black Hair Care in Color” are available on arialrobinson.com, as well as her music, blankets, and prints.