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Bad Hair Day: This Is A Look At African American's And The Importance Of Hair And The Role It Plays Within The Community

1294 words - 6 pages

Diving into the world of black hair is something all familiar yet somehow completely distant all at once. While at first I thought I knew all there was to know about black hair in its entirety, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and my many black comrades proceeded to prove me totally wrong. My four year old niece is half black. I am often stuck with the task of doing her hair. She has what many consider "good" hair. Free of kink. It is a massive, curly tangled mess, but good nonetheless. When she steps out of the bathtub her hair nearly reaches her bottom. However, give it a few minutes of drying and it is easily shoulder length, if not shorter. While this may not sound like the utmost desirable hair, ...view middle of the document...

I could not, for the life of me, picture a black woman with naturally "bad" or super kinky hair. Why? Well maybe because it is extremely rare. Don't get me wrong, women with naturally kinky exist, yet it is almost impossible to find one today. Besides, what self respecting black woman would be caught dead with "bad" hair?In the 1970s, at the height of the black power movement, naturally kinky hair was hot. Black men and women owned up to their powerfully unique hair. It was almost a calling card of sorts. You could tell who was down with the cause by just checking out their 'do. Black people rebelled against their "straight" hair because it was evidence of the prevalent and oppressive white supremacist regime and its strong hold on black society and culture. Unfortunately, the afro and natural hair died out with movement and we are left with men and women (mostly women) ashamed of their hair.Where did this idea of "good" and "bad" hair stem from? Obviously, it is easy to surmise that it is a product of slavery that still translates today. While the lighter skinned slaves were more favored in white households, I'm pretty sure the "straighter" haired ones were more tolerable also. Can you imagine your house slave serving your dinner guests with a freakishly large brillo looking object afloat on top of their heads? The blacks were already ostracized enough for their excess of melanin, let alone their hair. This would have just been the icing on the cake!The desire for straight hair is a strong driving force amongst blacks today. So much so that they spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to correct this tragedy bestowed upon them at birth. The attraction to straight hair is ingrained from birth and further instilled by not only the parents and family, but black society as well. "You could be as ugly as homemade sin dipped in misery and still be thought attractive if you had good hair." (Gates Jr. 44). This is an attitude felt by many if not all black people. Yes, there are the few that defy the rule, but they are definitely aware of the pressure. My best friend ,who just happens to be black, echoed this sentiment by telling me how her mother always told her that if she was light skinned and had straight hair the boys would be all over her. Even Gates himself felt the pressure and tried his damnedest to remedy the situation; "I would have done anything to have straight hair" (Gates Jr. 45).Where do we...

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