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Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black…
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Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

by Ayana Byrd, Lori L. Tharps

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This brief book explores the culture of Black American hair and is divided into two broad sections. The first part of the book documents the history of West African people's hair styles and traditions; hair was extremely important in a cultural and spiritual sense to Africans. The historical section continues as these same West Africans were sold into slavery and robbed of their culture, including their rich traditions of hair styling. After emancipation the story continues into modern times, with an emphasis on the hair care industry that has developed around how Black Americans care for their hair.

The second part of this book focuses on Black hair as an individual experience, and I really enjoyed reading this piece of the story. Interviews with modern Black individuals reveal their "hair stories," which are full of family history, interpersonal meaning, and self concepts of beauty.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book because, as someone who is not Black, I learned a lot about a different and fascinating aspect of American culture. My only quibbles are that I wish there were more photos of historical and modern hairstyles. I also would have appreciated a LGBT perspective on Black hair; this book is very heteronormative. ( )
  librarianarpita | Nov 24, 2014 |
Two world wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a Jheri curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the antebellum practice of shaving the head in an attempt to pass as a "free" person to the 1998 uproar over a White third-grade teacher's reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair linger as we enter the twenty-first century.
  Alice.rivera56 | Jun 11, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ayana Byrdprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tharps, Lori L.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312283229, Paperback)

Two world wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a Jheri curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the antebellum practice of shaving the head in an attempt to pass as a "free" person to the 1998 uproar over a White third-grade teacher's reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair linger as we enter the twenty-first century.

Tying the personal to the political and the popular, Hair Story takes a chronological look at the culture behind the ever-changing state of Black hair-from fifteenth century Africa to the present-day United States. Hair Story is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history and that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:49 -0400)

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