The Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment

Photo Description: Box of Ethnic Hair Care Products

Photo Description: Box of Ethnic Hair Care Products

The Eleanor Elizabeth Institute for Black Empowerment (EEIBE) is a WA state nonprofit established in February 2016. It serves as a think tank and solutions center that seeks to disrupt and dismantle policies, issues, situations, and social impacts that further marginalize and oppress displaced members of the African diaspora, (leading with those who are American and Caribbean descendants of the enslaved.)

EEIBE was founded by ChrisTiana ObeySumner after a Master’s capstone thesis where an examination of hygiene/ needs closets across harm reduction housing projects across Seattle/ King County. Across four agencies and nearly 25 buildings, none of the closets had ethnic hair care products. Further, stakeholders shared barriers to employment, education, access to public space, bias, and othering based on the politics of how their hair naturally grew out of their head and the expectation for Eurocentric styling and smoothing methods.

Read more about the California CROWN Act and NYC Commission on Human Rights guide lines to ban natural hair discrimination. So far, they are the only state or regional governments in the country that has sought to pass legislation on the issue.

Ethnic hair care products are an imperative part of an everyday hygiene regiment for people with kinky/ coily hair — and absence of these products disproportionately and negatively impacted Black and Brown folks. We know that ethnic hair care and the need for appropriate products is not about vanity, it is about dignity. Our core program is an ethnic hair care bank held in North Seattle where folks who need products and cannot access or afford them can come and get what they need.

Contact us to donate in-kind donation or funds, request a training to learn more about ethnic hair care and how to fight for social equity and justice, or to receive produces for yourself or a loved one.

Recently, EEIBE has been focused on disrupting and dismantling issues of:

  • Colorism and antiblackness

  • Racialized ableism and medical apartheid

  • Natural hair discrimination and equitable employment/ education justice

  • The criminal justice system and the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline”

  • Trans rights, justice, and liberation

  • Xenophobia, immigrant/ refugee justice and civil rights