Black Hair Culture

Superior Essays
Hair is an important dynamic within the black community. It is the most discussed topic within the black community, from corner store barbershops, hair salons and even in the delivery room, black people, particularly women, are always talking about hair. For black women hair is very important and it is for this reason it is treated with the utmost respect and is most valued over attributes such as eye and skin color with regards to beauty. This is evident in the work place, major magazine covers, reality shows, and movies. For centuries, dating as far back as slavery, black women have participated in hair practice, like pressing, to change the appearance of their natural “kinky” hair all in efforts to attain a straight, silky, relax look; a …show more content…
Presently, black women are still actively practicing in these practices and as a result are being scrutinized and frowned upon by their pairs, society and most recently in films. “Good Hair” a 2009 documentary directed by, actor and comedian, Chris Rock explores the practices of hair styles among black woman. Rock, the narrator, claims he created the documentary after his daughter ask “daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” Throughout the documentary, Rock is seen interviewing a number of outstanding black African American women in American culture; the list includes, Nia Long, Eve, Tracie Thomas, Salt-n-Papa, Salli Richardson, Raven-Symone and Maya Angelou about their ideals on black hair. Based on the documentary, it is implied, black women use chemicals on their hair and wear weaves due to low self esteem, self hatred and the desire to be white like; however, on the contrary, many black women participate in these practices because of the effects of colonialism, their attempt to survive into mainstream culture and the pressure to conform to European standards of …show more content…
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”. While this statement is presumed to be the reality for black women it is not substantial enough to classify black women as having low self esteem but touches an even greater issue that is in-drove within the very root of black history. Black people, namely Africans, had developed their own values and ideals about hair far before slavery. These beliefs become negatively impacted with the introduction of slavery in the United States creating the notion that whites were superior and blacks were inferior. This separation further continued as slaves were being divided based on physical features, one was either a house slave or a field slave depending on how closely they passed as “white”;

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