Essay on Black Hair : African American History

Essay on Black Hair : African American History

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Black hair has been a vital feature of African American history. Since the beginning of African civilization, elaborate hairstyles have been used as an expression of one’s culture and a mere indicator of a person’s identity, whether it be their family background, tribe, religion, social status or marital status. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was the beginning of the destruction and fracturing of these African customs and stripping these individuals of their culture. The bias against black hair has dated back to the years of slavery, where black hair was classified as sheep wool and not human hair. Some slaves were forced to cover their natural hair or wear wigs made from white people’s hair. Because of this dehumanization, during the 19th century when slavery was abolished, many black people felt pressured to assimilate into the mainstream white society and to alter their hair texture accordingly. This stems from the Eurocentric beauty ideals, which equates to the idea that being black is unattractive. Years later, the stigma against natural curly hair and it being constantly policed is still prevalent, especially in schools and corporate America. Even though these institutions have the right to enforce conservative policies, these should not be based on biased views and target only one group of people. They should, however, consider individualism and diversity when creating their codes of conducts.
In the United States, black hair has always been a political aspect of one’s blackness. Every black woman has her own story about her hair and society’s endless discrimination and desire to tame, manage and straighten her mane because the hair that grew from her scalp is deemed unkempt and unprofessional. In recent years, there have ...


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...” hair has become a prerequisite to be considered for a job or to be allowed in some schools. Institution policies have violated black bodies in many instances where black people were not considered humans unless they conformed to chemically or manually altering who they are. Black hair is not a crime and a black person wearing their natural hair should not be a revolutionary act. For generations, the dominance of the white culture has been reflected through the way blacks wore their hair. African Americans have constantly been forced to compromise their authenticity to fit the white man’s standards. One group of people should not have to compromise their behavior and appearance to gain human rights. The dehumanization of Black American females has contributed to internalized racism, self-hatred and self-policing seen today in black women and needs to come to an end.

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