The Black Power Movement: Natural Hair During The Civil Rights Movement

Superior Essays
The term, “natural hair”, is frequently used to describe African-American hair that has not been heat damaged, or chemically processed and in the state in which it grows from one’s head (Marshall). The ‘natural hair look’ became prominent in the 1960’s, before and during the civil rights movement (Luter; Brown 17). Many activists, and in general, everyday women wore their as is, which is commonly associated with the “Afro”. The “Afro” was not only a hairstyle, but a political statement for black men and women refusing the restrictions from society and assimilation to white standards of beauty. The Afro was also a “silent affirmation of African roots and the beauty of blackness” (Brown 16). The Black Power Movement is strongly associated with …show more content…
Stacia Brown, a radio personality and journalist, contemplated how her Afro would affect her job interview in her article for New Republic’s, “My Hair, My Politics”. Although feeling free after cutting her damaged hair and going natural, Brown mentions once leaving a nonprofit for a new job, “aesthetic anxieties come immediately to mind”. How would her interviewers receive her Afro? One of Brown’s friends declared, “[You need] to rethink walking in with a ‘bush’” (Brown 16). Comments of this nature are just some of the reasons why relaxers and flat-irons are so popular for black women in America. Rooks stated that many straightening product advertisements often made straight hair and “social and economic advancement” synonymous (Rooks 119). Today, in the current natural hair movement, less women are straightening their hair, which causes conflict with company and government policies. When Janet Bello interviewed for a job at Six Flags, she was disqualified for the occupation not because of incompetence, but due to her dreadlocks (Smith). Hairstyles are not reasons to disqualify someone from a job. In addition, discrimination of natural hairstyles is not limited to the job field. A step down from the job market is secondary education, where prejudice against dreads within job fields pressures business schools to …show more content…
Hegemony or the dominance of a particular social group, promotes these feelings (R. Jeffries and D. Jeffries 164). In “Reclaiming Our Roots: The Influences of Media Curriculum on the Natural Hair Movement”, Rhonda Jeffries and Devair Jeffries explore the implications of the distaste for natural hair through Chris Rock’s Good Hair documentary and the play, Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy. Rock was prompted to create the documentary to examine the dichotomy between “good hair” (often associated with straight hair) and “bad hair” (often associated with kinky/curly hair) after his daughter wondered why she did not possess “good hair” (R. Jeffries and D. Jeffries). The idea of African-American features being inferior to the Anglo-Saxon model stems from the colonization era and pre-Darwinists, such as Charles Smith and George Stocking who emphasized racial hierarchies (Rooks 38-39). Centuries later, these constructs are still present, but influential women, such as the renowned poet, Maya Angelou, encourage current generations to remember having “good hair” is “if you have it on your head” (R. Jeffries and D. Jeffries 163). For those unsatisfied with their hair as ‘good hair’, they turn to relaxers. According to R. Jeffries & D. Jeffries, users of relaxers in 2013 were susceptible to brain and lung damage. Yet, women

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    This is revealed in Zora Neale Hurston’s writing, because she uses Southern vernacular as well as Harlem slang, to the disdain of other African American authors. Dialect like this: “You jes wave dat rake at dis heah yahd, madam…(17), is used by Hurston to celebrate the rural, southern African-American. Rather than focus on the everyday injustices black suffered as a result of racism in American society, she utilized the theme of black folk culture in her works to demonstrate that blacks did, in fact, enjoy their own culture that aptly represented communal life, oral traditions in folk tales, and music. Once the black community accepts themselves, they no longer find themselves inferior to the white community. This will later fuel their desire for civil equality in the…

    • 1088 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Afrocentric Attractiveness

    • 1193 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Along these lines, they may accomplish the status of having "great hair," which is normally used to portray hair that has a looser curl design, wavy, or straight. Comic Chris Rock described his own particular experience when his girl sorrowfully approached him asking, "Daddy, why don 't I have great hair?" (Hunter) The blend without a doubt has a perming cream in it. Through eras, hair change has ended up business as usual for African American ladies. Despite the fact that its unique reason has been outgrown development has motivated gratefulness for a Blacks aesthetic, hair surface modification among African American ladies has a steady hold.…

    • 1193 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    I will agree that yes, sometimes natural hair can look too loud and may need to be toned down during certain settings like Tamera said “why not put it in a ponytail or a bun” if your workplace or school believes its “unruly”. To tell a woman that something she was born with is not acceptable is not only discriminatory but it also has the possibility of breaking down self-esteem. Throughout the past few years it seems as if African American women are coming to terms with the hair that they were rightfully given and not caring about the opinions of others. The natural hair movement has somehow expanded to become a re-modernized way of living and a highlighted focal point of the mainstream beauty industry, giving more women more self-esteem (Boston Globe). With this movement it seems like more black women are trying to get others to join and trying to spread the knowledge of how to embrace your natural locs an also to care for…

    • 1331 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    Through their work they focused on the reasons, but did not suggest reasons to improve African American’s low self-confidence. Through studying their works, the way to improve African American’s low self-confidence is to create a positive image of African American beauty in mass media. By showing younger African American women positive messages about natural hair textures and showing positive characteristics of women with darker skin in mass media, African American women will feel more positive about their appearance. Positive messages refer to showing African American women with darker skin or natural hair textures in high paying positions on television shows. African American women on television can also promote more diverse beauty standards by wearing their hair in natural hair styles.…

    • 2321 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Black Hair Culture

    • 1277 Words
    • 6 Pages

    This ideal comes from the belief that black women feel something is innately wrong with them therefore changing the appearance of their hair will help them feel better about themselves. This is evident by the large number of black women who opt to cover/ alter their hair. Society has created a fence between black and white hair. Hair that is straighten or relaxed is deemed as beautiful and hair that a kinky or woolly “nappy” is considered ugly and undesirable. Nia Long, an American actress, during and interview with Rock, discuss the pressures within the black communities, stating “when you have good hair, you’re better than the brown skin girl with the afro, …, and natural hair styles”.…

    • 1277 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    When the term “good hair” is used it is meant to portray an image of “naturally straight, soft to the touch, long, and closet in texture to white women’s hair” while “bad hair” has portrays an image of Black hair in its natural state “- thick, wooly, an enemy to fine-toothed comb”. Hair for Black women has come to represent more than just fashion, but can be seen as a reminder of slavery and the oppression they have experienced. This idea of “house Negroes” (“good hair”) and “field Negroes” (“bad hair”) has created a division within the Black community that keeps them from coming together. This idea that lighter skin and straighter hair is what is most desirable has come to be internalized within the Black community leading many to change their appearance to assimilate and conform to society 's beauty standards. It is this internalization that the visual album is fighting against and is an attempt to undo the stigma that surrounds a Black woman’s own natural beauty without assimilation.…

    • 1204 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Pointing out how great it is in ways Black women may never have thought of before. Brooks encourages Black women to love their hair even though the world is telling them it is not beautiful. Brooks a woman ahead of her timely course knew this was not true. Proudly embracing her Afrocentric traits she was born with finally finding the self love to love her features and encouraging other women 's well. Sisters!…

    • 1891 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    When the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s it was the beginning of a new future for African Americans. The Civil Rights Movement was a movement to gain basic rights for African Americans (Davis, 2014). It created the rights that said the difference of skin color between black and white people made no difference, both races deserved the same treatment. Since the Civil Rights Movement racial equality has improved through things such as African American’s government roles, and their rights in everyday life. But even today, where skin color should make no difference, black people still experience segregation.…

    • 1250 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    A specific culture influences life by simply existing. The only way to change the way that a culture exists is to significantly influence the lives that hold to the culture. In the movie, Skeeter writes “The Help,” a story about the under-paid maids, in order to influence change among the folk that think black people lack legal rights to voice an opinion because of the skin that they wear. Aibileen’s best friend Minnie, who eventually contributes to the book through her story and “insurance,” helps ensure protection before the release of the cultural changing book. Despite her negativity, Miss Hilly Holbrook is a perfect example of an…

    • 1433 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Natural Hair

    • 1215 Words
    • 5 Pages

    With starting with models not wearing makeup now, young black women not wearing weave to show their hair couture. During the survey I observe a lot of women love their natural to an certain extent. Like some women say they love their natural hair but, when the weather change it’s get’s fizzy. The comments of the women leaded me to an history paper online called: Hair It Is: Examining the Experiences of Black Women with Natural Hair. And it is an section stated “Enslaved Africans who worked closer to the plantation “masters,” wore hairstyles that emulated the dominant trends of the times, such as wigs in the 18th century .…

    • 1215 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays