Black Hair Is A Complex Subject Essay

Black Hair Is A Complex Subject Essay

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Throughout the semester we have studied the black vernacular tradition and its attributes of competition, group interaction, the in- group, and pattern of call and response and we have learned to take those attributes and apply then to the complex subject of Black Hair. Black Hair is a complex subject not only because so little is known about it but because of the aesthetic, political, and interpersonal context through which Black hair can be studied and interpreted. Hair is honestly in just about every text and it is used to not only add insight to characters identity but to also give context to time. Many of the black vernacular tenets are seen throughout Margo Jefferson’s chapter in Negroland, in particular the first section called “The Seventies” and the last section called “Here and now.”
Jefferson opens up the chapter with “The Seventies” section, where she opens up about the politics of Black hair in the seventies. She introduces the reader to her friend named Shawn, who chooses to wear a “voluminous” Afro wig, specifically when she in in the Black community. At the time, the Afro symbolized cultural pride in the Black community and she want those who came in contact with her knot that she was a politically conscious woman and let people know that she were fully aware of her cultural identity. For many people, that is what the Afro meant and that was the message they wanted to convey to the public so they wore wigs. Shawn later encounters a woman wearing an opposite straightened wig in the bathroom at a club doing the exact same thing she was to get rid of the sweat coming from their wigs and though they both understood what the other was doing they did not speak. Knowing the politics of hair and the roll that hair plays...


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...ides ‘curly hair’” and “provide precision since his skin is black-brown and mine is cream-brown” and she ends by stating firmly, “I am African American”(1). I found it interesting that though they were both Black, Jefferson was the one who felt the pressure to have to “prove” her racial identity. She does this through talking a lot more then she should but hair gives her the avenue to have the conversation. In a final act to affirm her identity, Jefferson, while talking about her hair dresser, states, he “understands the mechanics of hair that goes from curly to frizzy to… nappy” (1). And with that single word they were able to connect and share laughs over hair struggles that only the “in” group, another vernacular aspect, understands. Jefferson was also to confirm her identity and establish a relationship though simply talking about hair products and struggles.

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