February 8th, 2021
Galina · Staff Recommendations
This year for Black History Month we would like to celebrate something that is the pride and glory of many women and man: hair! Nearly every culture worldwide and across history finds hair to be important, with long hair often signifying beauty and strength of spirit.
Hair is a big topic! It’s fascinating to see what other people do with their hair, from proudly sporting a bald head to cutting it in a wide variety of styles, to adding extensions and weaves, to dying it in a wide range of colors. Everyone should be able to style their hair as they wish—from the flights of fancy of Eighties-style vertical bangs, to a radiant Afro.
Let’s all treat each other’s hair with respect.
Here is more information you can use to educate yourself and others about Black hair this month:
- In Twisted : the tangled history of black hair culture Emma Dabiri, explores the threads of racism which are tangled up in considerations of Black hair. Such an enlightening and educational read!
- A short article, “8 Things You Always Wanted to Know about Black Women’s Hair,” by Princess Jones at The Mashup Americans can teach you the basics about African-American hair.
- Anthropologist Emma Tarlo in her latest book Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair uncovers the hair trade’s dirty secrets. Fascinating read!
- For some of the coolest Black hair-art ever, check out this collection of high-fashion photographs of young Black models by Creative Soul Photography! One of the photographs was featured as the cover of the short story collection How Long ’Til Black Future Month by science fiction writer N.K. Jemesin, winner of multiple Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.
- In 2019 in New York, Governor Cuomo passed a law to help prevent discrimination against people based on their hair style or texture. It happens! Black women in particular are told that their hairstyles—which they have often just spent hours and good money to get professionally styled—are “unprofessional.”
- For more of Black women’s crowning glory, check out Queens: Portraits of Black Women and their Fabulous Hair, by Michael Cunningham and George Alexander.
- A TED Talk on Black women’s hair, “No. You Cannot Touch My Hair!” by Mena Fombo, which is both funny and serious, that gives the audience a moment of feeling how weird it is to constantly have your hair touched—and to be treated like a foreigner in your own country.
Help teach kids about Black hair with the picture book My Hair Is Magic! by reading intervention teacher M.L. Marroquin and artist Tonya Engel.