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Reply to "Hair snobs"

Originally posted by SistahSouljah:
{confused by "politics of hair"}

sorry i'm just now seeing this:, but perhaps this will get u started.

Natural hair

Young woman with parted afro curls.Natural hair, black hair, and afro-textured hair are terms used mainly by Western people to refer to the texture of African hair which has not been altered chemically (by perming, relaxing, straightening, bleaching or coloring). It should be noted though, that not all people of sub-Saharan African descent have naturally afro-textured hair, in particular certain Horn of Africa groups though most sub saharan Africans do. Adjectives such as "hard", "kinky", "nappy", or "woolly" are also used to describe natural hair. This hair is typically tightly coiled and soft to the touch. Andamanese Negritos and most Melanesian people also have tightly curled hair.

History in the United States

Black Americans have been experimenting with ways to style their hair since the nineteenth century. Between the late 1890s and the early 1900s, Annie Malone, Madam C. J. Walker and Garrett Augustus Morgan revolutionized Black American hair care by inventing and marketing chemical applications to alter the natural, "nappy" or kinky texture. During the 1930s, conking (vividly described in the Autobiography of Malcolm X) became an innovative method in the U.S. for Black men to straighten kinky hair.

It has been debated whether these practices arose out of a desire to make the hair more manageable or instead to conform to a Eurocentric standard of beauty.[citation needed] Supporters of the second theory believe that the same prejudice that viewed lighter skin as preferable to darker, held that straight or wavy hair was preferable to kinky or nappy natural hair; that this prejudice comes not from African diasporic peoples but from European slaveholders and colonizers as part of the rhetoric used to support slavery and racially-based social class stratifications. Some claim that the dominant prejudice for Eurocentric ideas of beauty pervades the western world. [1][citation needed]

The civil rights movement and black power and pride movements of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. created an impetus for African Americans to express their political commitments and self love through the wearing of natural hair. This contributed to the emergence of the Afro hairstyle into American mainstream culture, as an affirmation of African heritage, that "black is beautiful," and a rejection of Eurocentric standards of beauty. It has been used in songs, as a symbol of African heritage, notably in I Wish by Stevie Wonder. By the 1970s natural hair had evolved into a popular hairstyle.

Over the years, the popularity of natural hair has waxed and waned, but a significant percentage, approximately 75% of African American women still elect to straighten their hair with relaxers of some kind. Prolonged application of such chemicals can result in overprocessing, breakage and thinning of the hair.

In the past decade or so, natural hair has once again increased in popularity with the emergence of styles such as cornrows, locks, braiding, twists and cropped hair, most of which originated in Ancient Africa[citation needed]. With the emergence of hip-hop culture and Caribbean influences like reggae music, more non-blacks have begun to wear these hairstyles as well. There has been a boom in marketing hair products such as "Out of Africa" shampoo to African American consumers. Slogans that promote a pan-African appreciation of Afro-textured hair include "Happy to be nappy," "Don't worry, be nappy," as well as "Love, peace and nappiness."

Most black women in the West, however, continue to relax their hair.[2] Even today, people are sometimes discouraged in the workplace from wearing their hair in a natural style (see below)

[edit] Controversy over natural hair in the United States
Although there has been a reemergence of natural hair, there is still the underlying tone that straightened hair is a more acceptable or professional hairstyle. This is evidenced by the fact that high-profile black women in professions such as journalism and politics still wear straight hair.

A 1998 incident became national news when a teacher in Bushwick, Brooklyn, introduced her students to the book Nappy Hair by Black American author Carolivia Herron. The teacher, who is white, was criticized by parents of black children, who thought that the book presented a negative stereotype.[1]

In December 2006, the Baltimore Police Department created a policy to create a new professional appearance, but it raised questions of racial insensitivity. The new policy was more specific. Three out of the four hairstyles banned were worn primarily by blacks[citation needed]. The hairstyles include twists, locks, Mohawks, and cornrows. These hairstyles were regarded as "fads" and "extreme." A petition was made. Currently the Baltimore Police Department has rescinded the policy against natural hair styles and a new policy was put in effect after January 15th.

In June 2006, the Six Flags amusement park chain created an employee policy against "extreme hairstyles" including locks and cornrows. This caused many of their employees to either quit or alter their hair by cutting it or straightening it.

On Wednesday, April 4, 2007 radio talk-show host Don Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team playing in the Women's NCAA Championship game as a group of "nappy-headed hos" during his Imus in the Morning show. Bernard McGuirk then compared the game to "the jigaboos versus the wannabes," alluding to Spike Lee's film School Daze. Imus apologized two days later, after receiving criticism. CBS Radio canceled Don Imus' morning show on Thursday, April 12, 2007.

On April 24, 2007, mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz reprised Imus' remark when he said of Rashad Evans, "He will be my nappy-headed ho." The two faced off in one of the three featured fights at UFC 73 in Sacramento, California on July 7, 2007.

During August 2007, American Lawyer Magazine reported that an unnamed junior Glamour Magazine staffer did a presentation on the "Do's and Dont's of Corporate Fashion" for Cleary Gottlieb, a New York City law firm. There was a slide show where the woman made negative remarks about black women's natural hairstyles in the workplace, calling them "shocking," "inappropriate," and "political." Both the law firm and Glamour Magazine issued apologies to the staff. [2][3]