Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

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Macmillan, Jan 12, 2002 - Social Science - 198 pages

Two world wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a Jheri curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the antebellum practice of shaving the head in an attempt to pass as a "free" person to the 1998 uproar over a White third-grade teacher's reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair linger as we enter the twenty-first century.

Tying the personal to the political and the popular, Hair Story takes a chronological look at the culture behind the ever-changing state of Black hair-from fifteenth century Africa to the present-day United States. Hair Story is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history and that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.


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User Review  - Robin Lisa - Borders

Well written, historically, grammatically and culturally correct in every aspect. I came away with a deep understanding of why hair is a national obsession particularly with African American women ... Read full review

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I read this book a couple of years ago. As a Black male I found it a very interesting and informative read. I bought several copies and gave them to Black and White women to read. The creator gave us beautiful hair. There is a biological and intrinsic reason for us having nappy/kinky hair. We are from Africa where it is hot and humid. The creator gave us our hair to tolerate and live comfortably with it is as; with our skin having color (melanin), wide noses to breathe the hot and humid air and our hair short and curly so we could feel cool in a hot climate. If we'd had straight hair and pale skin and narrow noses, we'd be dead, extinct. Same if we'd lived in Europe. Couldn't exist. That's why Whites have their biological attributes; for cold climates. They handle cold as it was meant to be. Understand who you are and why you are unique. Then I think you will love you as you are; Black and beautiful!!! I admit it bothers me to see Black women wearing straight hair wigs. But, I understand and hold no malice. Brainwashed. I hope I live to see the day wear Black women wear their hair naturally again. as in the 70's with the afros - short and long. I don't know what happened. I believe we'll get back there. Peace & <3 


Black Hair in Bondage 14001899
No Excuse for Nappy 19001964
Revolutionary Roots Naturals Afros and the Changing Politics of Hair 19651979
The Business of Black Hair
Politically Incorrect Black Hairs New Attitude 19801994
The Burden of Proof Explaining Black Hair Culture
Hair Today Hair Tomorrow 19952000

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About the author (2002)

Ayan D. Byrd holds a bachelors degree in political science from Barnard College. Her work has appeared in Vibe, Rolling Stone, Honey, and InStyle magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Lori L. Tharps attended Smith College and received a Masters Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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