Natural Hair & Care

Untangling Roots February 17, 2009

Why does this site seem to be aimed at women with tightly coiled, curled and highly textured hair?

Throughout American history, this type of hair has been grossly pathologized. The result is  the inter-generational transfer, among African-American men and women, of constant feelings of inferiority, ‘otherness’, self-hatred and shame. Natural (unprocessed) and highly textured or kinky hair is rarely affirmed and often treated as an obstacle, hindrance or handicap.beautifulchild

In the Wall Street Journal, M. Hanigan explained the problem with kinky African-American hair when he wrote, “[Braids] may bring attention to the the fact that the candidate comes from a different culture, with a different value system…That strikes fear into the minds of hiring managers.” In a 1988 Essence Magazine article, business education teacher Y. Simmons explained that natural hair and hairstyles were inappropriate for professional environments. “You either look professional or you don’t. I see very little difference between a punk cut, purple hair, dreadlocks or braids. They are all extreme hairstyles that don’t belong in the office.” At Spelman, in 1988, the associate dean explained to each female student that “she has to decide what’s more important: the way she wears her hair or the position that she is currently seeking.”

There is a real need in the African-American community for  blackhairstory, which aims to promote healthy dialogue about our perception of our hair and provide resources in the form of articles, images, videos, and product reviews that will help African-American men and women re-familiarize themselves with their natural beauty despite a long history of the vilification of everything African.

While much of the content on the site is focused on African-American hair, this site is important for all Americans. The legacy of slavery, which is perpetuated  through the language that we use, comments that we make and notions of beauty to which we subscribe, is the inheritance of all Americans. In a globalized culture where trans racial adoption is a common occurrence, we must make sure that we know and understand the cultures of people who have been marginalized so that we can empower our children and build stronger people.