Last year renowned Denver hairstylist Charlie Price broke down in tears while watching an episode of Al Jazeera’s Borderland. Memories of growing up in the early '80s with two girls from Cuba came flooding back as he saw the effects that immigration has on Mexican children crossing the border. “My boyfriend, who is Mexican-American, came in and found me in tears and told me I couldn’t just sit around crying about things,” Price remembers. "And he was right. I felt like I had to get off my ass and do something, do whatever I could. I have a lot of friends who are undocumented, and immigration is something I grew up with and have always felt passionate about.”
Price began looking for a way he could get involved. After meeting with representatives from the mayor’s office and a colleague serving on a school board in Tucson, he came across Centro Humanitario, Colorado’s only worker center dedicated to the promotion of the rights and well-being of low-wage workers. Price was immediately drawn to the organization.
“When you walk into Centro Humanitario, you see a sign that says everybody who walks through these doors will be treated with dignity,” Price says. “I was looking to change the demonizing of immigration, and that’s exactly what Centro Humanitario does.” Price began working with Sarah Shikes, chief operating officer for Centro Humanitario, on ways he could get involved with the organization. After determining that the most immediate need was to get the word out, Price decided to do what he does best: hair.
On Sunday, June 14, ten salons from around the metro area will come together for Historias, a hair-and-fashion show at the EXDO Events Center celebrating Latino culture and raising funds and awareness for Centro Humanitario. Participating salons include El Salon berenices, halo, MODE Salon, Starling Salon, Planet Laboratories, Teds Hair Studio, Beto’s Hair Studio, Vida and The Look.
While a hairstyling showcase may not appear to have a connection with a worker center, Shikes begs to differ. “To me, the tie is the value of work, the value of dignified jobs,” she says. “Hair stylists in hair salons work hard, they get it. They are very sympathetic to workers not being paid a fair wage and being exploited in some way. It’s close to home for a lot of them.”
The name of the event was an easy choice for Price and Shikes; they both agreed that the workers' historias, or stories, are the most powerful aspect of Centro Humanitario. People's entire attitude toward immigration changes when they hear what the workers and their family members have to say, Price says.
“When we introduce our organization to people, we talk about how everybody has an immigration story,” Shikes adds. “So while we recognize that not everyone who lives in the U.S. is an immigrant, the vast majority of people still have immigration in their family history where someone came to America.”
Of the ten salons participating in Historias, eight are Latino-owned — which Price says is important since the event is meant to celebrate Latino culture. The salons will all feature a prominent Latino theme, from Frida Kahlo style to Price’s own tribute to the late Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán.
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Price says that Historias is meant to be upbeat and fun for everyone involved, which is why Kathie J. from the KS 107.5 Morning Show will host the event and DJ Markie will provide the music. All proceeds will be donated directly to Centro Humanitario. “These funds will be used to number one, sustain our programs and campaigns, and number two, help expand our organization into places like Aurora, where there is a big need for day laborers to be placed. We want to expand in outreach and in space.”
Historias runs from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at EXDO, 1339 35th Street. Tickets are available online and at the door for $20; for more information, click here.