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Why is Black Hair So Political

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Happy To Be Nappy Or Not-Hair Revolution

For a very long time Black hair has been pegged as being political and for almost as long women of color have been trying to define the exact reason why this is so.

Many books such as Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women’s Consciousness, by Ingrid Banks have taken the definition to task by looking at the history of Black hair through slavery, antebellum, the straightening revolution and on into the Black Power movement, but only touched on the fringes of what it means to have “political” hair. Is it because of the texture which is so different from the standard by which hair is judged as normative, or the versatility it possesses when it comes to styling? Is it because of what Black hair stands for or because it makes us stand out?



By definition, the word politics is nothing more than a system of laws that decree how something should be done and what certain things stand for. These laws are usually set into place by a governing body of elected officials who represent several sectors of society and lobby for policy that best suits the needs of their constituents. When it comes to Black hair, it seems there has been a change in the governing body that defines the standards of what is acceptable when it comes to styling kinky hair and what is not. Whereas the European standard of beauty ruled many of our follicle forbearers’ hair care choices,

The question of what makes Black hair political in present society brings about a myriad of answers that are as diverse as Black hair styling choices. Some feel it is a nod to the power within the culture of African American people which has allowed them to withstand the injustices and atrocities heaped on them since being brought to the country. Others feel it is indeed the versatility in styling options of naturally textured tresses which gives us the right to choose what we feel makes us beautiful according to our heritage. And still others believe it’s because of the way Black hair presents itself, and its wearer, as uniquely different from others. The fact that it can make you stand out in a crowd of straight hair and black suits makes people nervous. It reminds them of the black power movement. An afro makes people think you have message – by any means.”

you can touch my hair, a short film (part 1)

(Change the settings to watch in HD) Whether it’s 7-year old Tiana Parker getting sent home from schoo…

The “processed mind” – the constant judging/comparing of what we do to reduce someone else’s comfort in how they look – takes longer to eradicate than the hair change. That’s the true “political” revolution that is natural hair.”So it is the fact that Black hair, especially in its natural state, challenges beauty convention of not just the prevalent European standard of beauty, it also thumbs its proverbial nose at the standards which exist within its own cultural community.

With that being the case it seems Black hair isn’t as much political as it is controversial because of its ability to change the politics which govern beauty standards across the board.

In essence, many have flipped the political script by now defining their hair styling choices rather than having their hair define them.

In the twenty first century with so many other things governing the displacement  of our time energy and thought.  When will we begin to make a conscious effort to instill in our  children to embrace the beauty that is innately given us by God.

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About Darlene Dancy

Darlene Dancy is the owner of Affordable and Historical Art. Darlene's goal is to educate, motivate and empower people of African descent to learn the rich history of African culture - past & present. Discover Black History written, researched and preserved by African American Scholars. Lectures, Documentaries & Auto Biographies on DVD's and Historical Black Print/Poster art

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