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Hair Story : Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America Hardcover – February 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Whether it's hip-hop diva Lil' Kim's "weave of the week" or activist Angela Davis's Afro, black hair evinces the power to set trends and define icons. In this entertaining and concise survey, Byrd (a research chief for Vibe) and Tharps (a reporter for Entertainment Weekly) revel in the social, cultural and economic significance of African-American hair from 1400 to the present. The opening chapter chronicles the rise of the slave trade, revealing intriguing facts about the significance of hair in African cultureAsuch as that only royalty donned hats or hairpieces, and recently widowed Wolof women stopped maintaining their hair as a sign of their mourning. The authors contextualize issues familiar to African-Americans while explaining black hair culture to the uninformed, so readers who don't already know what "the kitchen" refers to (hair at the nape of the neck, usually the "nappiest") will soon find out. Photos and illustrations are put to effective use, though amusing charts such as "Five Famous Men with Equally Famous Hair" and the "Black Hair Glossary" are out of sync with the text. Meanwhile, significant figures, like Madame C.J. Walker and Nathaniel "The Bush Doctor" Mathis, are revisited in detail in various chapters, resulting in unnecessary repetition. But these are small quibbles with a book that successfully balances popular appeal with historical accuracy, adeptly exploring the roots of pervasive intraracial discrimination while explaining, for example, how the much-maligned Jheri Curl ever became a fad. Agent, Marie Brown. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"From antiquity to the present day, Black hair has been ornamentation and a medium of artistic expression. At the same time, its changing political and cultural values have often mirrored the current social climate. Hair Story, in documenting our natural hair's beauty and capacity for communication, brings to life and infuses with historical relevance this unique slice of Americana."--Harriette Cole, author of Jumping the Broom and How to Be
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I now think what if it was opposite. What if at the first sign of straight, blonde hair a mother took her five-year-old to the salon, told her that something was wrong with her fine textured tress, that she looked like a wet cat? What if that mother paid to have that child's hair permed in tiny perm rods & told her she had to keep putting caustic chemicals in her hair for the rest of her life so that she can be accepted, get a job, or a husband. That mother would be considered abusive. But many children in American receive this treatment every day, and instead of abuse, it's considered normal, fashionable or simply just the way things are.
To understand that to deny Blacks the opportunity to express themselves without criticism is to deny the opportunity to explore the culture. Blacks have an continue to have denial of self in the deliberate raping of a person of their homeland, language, name, religion, body, hair, humanity and ultimately entire self.
This book helped be to know something that I should have already known: my hair. The history of black hair is one that is very interesting and telling. I learned more about my hair in this book than I have ever learned, even from members of my own family. There is also a sense of confidence one gets from reading books like these. I am letting all of my friends and family read it as well.
You will not be disappointed in your purchase.
Most recent customer reviews
Compact, entertaining, and easy to read.