Hair” “Bad Hair”
The relationship between politics and African-American hair is tenuous at best. Any researcher would be hard pressed to find another race or group of people whose hair factors into its politics. Indeed, such a notion borders on ridiculousness. It is difficult to imagine a group of people such as the Serbians, who faced extermination because of a political situation involving their race (Bowen 3), attempting to utilize their hair to any sort of political advantage. The same notion applies to African-Americans. There is no denying, however, that the hair of African-Americans has affected their regard socially throughout their tenure in the United States, and that certain hair types and textures have an enduring social meaning to this day. However, this paper will demonstrate that whatever social regard there is for the various hair types and textures of African-Americans has little impact politically, since: it produced little effect in the politics of the Civil Rights movement, that hair which is most desirable is most like the political oppressor of African-Americans, and there are extreme measures that African-Americans routinely go through to make their hair less African-looking.
This topic is important within the context of African-Americans and their plight in the United States because, for the majority of their time in this country (and especially since chattel slavery was abolished outside of the penal system), African-Americans have suffered from a surfeit of distractions. Quite simply, if these people tended to focus less on appearances — whether in the form of hairstyles, clothes, body types, vehicles, etc. — and more on their true social, political, and economic problems, they could have more of a political presence. However, African-Americans have almost always suffered from factionalism since they were initially brought to this country, a fact which probably stems from the tribal tendencies existent in Africa when they were first sold into slavery. Whether that factionalism has pertained to tribes, setting in the plantation in which slaves labored, football teams, gangs, cities or hair styles, such differentiation has merely lessened African-American solidarity. Any preoccupation with hair styles in 2014 is a similar manifestation, and has little impact politically other than to weaken the political prowess of these people.
The closest African-American hair came to intertwining with any sort of political ambition was during the 1960’s and 1970’s during the Civil Right movement and the time period which immediately spanned afterwards. During this pivotal two-year period, many African-Americans made a deliberate attempt to embrace their African heritage and to distance themselves from the influence of Westernization in the United States. It is important to realize that this socio-cultural movement took place within the context of a larger political movement in which African-Americans were attempting to procure basic civil liberties that were afforded to other groups, yet not them, in America. Socially and culturally then, the focus on Africa was manifested in a variety of ways — by wearing traditional African garb, by attempting to learn traditional African languages an other aspects of African culture, and by representing oneself as a definite descendent of Africa. Because of the lascivious and depraved raping and killing which took place during slavery, the dark skin color that characterized most Africans no longer characterized the physical quality of all African-Americans. However, the hair of those of African descent is distinct from that of other people in the world. It is knotty, kinky, and not naturally straightened unless one’s genes have been mixed with that of other ethnicities whose hair is straight.
As such, the wearing of one’s hair in an Afro — which is distinctly African-American and perhaps even distinctly African — became immensely popular during the aforementioned time period. It became a political statement in that it signified one’s African heritage and was a critical point of distinction in terms of one’s physical appearance from Western culture and those of European descent. However, Afro’s were merely symbols — this particular hairstyle did not serve any sort of political purpose other than to give the appearance that the wearer of that hair style was attuned to his or her Afrocentricity and distancing himself or herself from Westernized influences. Because this hairstyle was merely a symbol and just a part of physical appearances, (much like the Black Power salute, dashikis, ankhs, etc.) there were people who merely wore their hair in this style because of this fad and who had no political convictions. There were those who embraced the aesthetic of Afrocentricity, yet who adored Caucasian women or men as intimate partners, hamburgers, and other facets of Western culture that represented or directly were their oppressors. Thus, even during the most intense political moment for African-Americans in the history of their tenure in America, hairstyles were nothing more than a symbol of a socio-cultural fad that produced no true political effect. Instead, political effects were and are still achieved by mobilizing the masses, feeding people, and taking care of their basic socio-economic needs so they can be of use in the political process.
Another reason why, despite whatever social and cultural perceptions that persist about African-American hair, these notions are of no political use is because of the very nature of some of these perceptions. The tenets of “good” and “bad” hair (Lester 201) have persisted throughout the African-American culture as an inescapable cultural meme ever since they were brought here enslaved and the first mulattos were produced by avarice, lawlessness, and the profligate loins of Caucasians. To briefly explicate this meme, that hair which is closer to being straight — whether in the form of wavy hair or curly hair, virtually anything aside from the naturally kinky hair that typifies those of African descent — is termed good, while that hair which is of natural African descent and is not straight is termed “bad.” The counter-implications of this meme are readily apparent. The hair that which is most esteemed in the African-American community, which is considered good, is that which is straight and more likely to be found on peoples of mixed ethnicities, mulattos, etc. (Baraka 54). Moreover, those of mixed ethnicities tend to have lighter shades of skin than those who are African and whose heritage stems from African-Americans only. So the significance of this meme and of the regard for African-American hair is that hair which is closer to hair of Europeans, who have historically functioned as oppressors of African-Americans in myriad ways, shapes and forms, is deemed better and more desirable. There are certainly no political connotations in this regard; if there is one, it would be for those of Eurocentric ethnicity who have successfully exploited this notion and propagated it before far too many African-Americans. However, the fact remains that hair is similar in texture and style to that of Europeans, and which is found in most other ethnicities which also have straight hair, is considered better than hair that is distinctly African in its texture and style. As such, there are no political ramifications of this belief in a way that contributes to improving the political situation of African-Americans; if nothing else, it is merely another mechanism to oppress, confuse, and segment those of African-American descent.
Finally, perhaps the most convincing piece of evidence for the fact that the social and cultural regards for hair in the African-American community has had virtually no impact politically for these people is the extreme measures that African-Americans have gone to in order to modify their hair. As previously, stated, the primary reason to modify one’s hair is to make it “good” — or to make it closer to that of Caucasians (Haley 410), many of whom have been part of the political problems that African-Americans have faced in the U.S. Therefore, the many attempts that African-Americans have made to alter their hair in its appearance and texture so that it resembles that of their oppressors is not political maneuver by any means, and probably served to socially and culturally oppress these people as well. During the early part of the 20th century one of the most ubiquitous means of altering African-American hair to make it appear more like that of Europeans was to obtain a conk. Conk’s would temporarily straighten the hair of African-Americans, and were immensely popular among African-American men. With slick, straightened hair, African-Americans could whip it back like Caucasians or part it to the side in manners that the latter would routinely do. What is significant about conks is that the process was extremely painful. African-Americans were willing to go to extreme measures to endure tremendous pain (Neal 202) so that they could look more like their oppressors. Virtually no one can say that there was any political objective achieved by this process.
In the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, around the time the Black power movement and that propagated by the Black Panthers was systematically stifled with the influx of crack cocaine, one of the most common means of altering African-American hair to make it resemble Caucasian hair was by obtaining a jheri curl. Jheri curls did not necessarily straighten African-American hair, but it made it unnaturally curly — in much the same way that certain Italian people have long, curly hair. In appearance, therefore, jheri curls were certainly distinct from that of conventional African hair. However, jheri curls were also inordinately wet. Part of the appeal of these curls and the process that made one’s hair so curly is that it required an intense degree of moisture. In fact, there were specific products designed to spray moisture one one’s jheri curl in order to keep it wet and slick. Were jheri curl’s to dry, of course, the natural texture and look of African hair would reappear. Jheri curls were drippy, flashy, shiny, and a host of other attributes that made them popular during the aforementioned time period. But there was nothing political about them, and they did nothing to impact the political objectives of African-Americans other than to serve as distraction.
However, the segment of the African-American population that has routinely struggled the most with their hair and regularly attempts to straighten it so that it will resemble the hair of Caucasians is African-American women. Although there are some African-American women who wear their hair naturally or twist it up into locks, the vast majority of them get perms or relaxers. Some even believe that their hair factors into their success in life and their careers (Jacques-White). These hair treatments effectively straighten the hair of African-American women, which has, “long been considered by many black women to be their crowning glory” (Louis). As such, it can grow down their shoulders in a lengthy fashion that it would not be able to do otherwise. Moreover, the way that it grows down their shoulders is the way that hair grows down the shoulders of Caucasian women and other people with naturally straightened hair. However, the maintenance required for such a hair style is considerable. These perms or relaxers must be reapplied every couple of months or, for those who are more wealthy, in a matter of weeks. If they are not, an African-American’s hair will again dry out and revert to its classic kinky African features that characterizes the hair of most Africans. There are also detrimental effects that these perms and relaxers produce on the hair of African-American women, which is another reason there are needs for maintenance. Although these hair styles make these women look more like Caucasians, there is no political purpose that they serve.
In summary, the hairstyles of African-Americans have regularly been an important manifestation of social and cultural concerns. Very rarely, however, have these concerns intersected with political ones. For the most part, the various hair styles and ways in which African-Americans have worn their hair have only served as a social distraction. Instead of focusing on political issues that affect these people and the various forms of oppression that they could contend with via a nationalist perspective (Jones 83), a preoccupation with their hair is only another means of factionalism to which these people have always been subjected. The social and cultural concerns about hair, therefore, merely serve to lessen the degree of solidarity existent between African-Americans. Furthermore, virtually the only time that hair has been involved with any sort of political concerns for African-Americans was during the Civil Rights movement when it was fashionable to wear one’s hair in an Afrocentric manner. Even then these hair styles were little more than symbols, and not express manifestations of the sort of hard work required to alter political circumstances. The cultural meme of “good” and “bad” hair also denotes that hair has not had any significant political effect for African-Americans, since “good” hair is the hair that is most akin to that of African-Americans’ oppressor’s . Lastly, all of the elaborate ways that African-Americans have chosen to make their hair resemble Europeans proves that if anything hair has been a political tool for Caucasians to assimilate African-Americans, and not to actually help African-Americans.
Baraka, Amiri. The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. 1984. Print.
Bowen, John. “The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict.” Journal of Democracy 7(4): 3-14. 1996. Print.
Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X New York: The Random House Publishing Group. 1964. Print.
Jacques-White, Lorraine. The Politics of Black Hair: The Impact Hair Has Had on The Life of the Black Woman. http://atlanta.cbslocal.com / 2012. Web. http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/08/19/the-politics-of-black-hair-the-impact-hair-has-on-the-life-of-the-black-woman/
Jones, LeRoi. Home. New York: William Morrow & Company. 1967. Print.
Lester, Neal. “Nappy Edges and Goldy Locks: African-American Daughters and the politics of Their Hair.” The Lion and the Unicorn. 24(2) 201-224.
Louis, Catherine Saint. “Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics.” The New York Times. 2009. Web.
Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?
- Plagiarism free papers
- Timely delivery
- Any deadline
- Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
- Subject-relevant academic writer
- Adherence to paper instructions
- Ability to tackle bulk assignments
- Reasonable prices
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Get superb grades consistently
Online Academic Help With Different Subjects
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
What discipline/subjects do you deal in?
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
What if I don’t like the paper?
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
- When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
- We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.
In the event that you don’t like your paper:
- The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
- We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
- Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.
Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
What if the paper is plagiarized?
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
When will I get my paper?
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
Will anyone find out that I used your services?
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
How our Assignment Help Service Works
1. Place an order
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
2. Pay for the order
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
3. Track the progress
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
4. Download the paper
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!