Week 8

I wanted to start by apologizing to the class for missing our meeting this week. I would have especially liked to have been there to hear from Prof. Haley, and all of you, about what hair means. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts from this week, in particular, I liked hearing from Sarge about his dreadlocks and about his hair journey. Like Kate, I wasn’t very familiar with the relationship between communities of color and their hair before; although, I started going to More Than Hair last semester and am on the e board now. My initial interest in MTH was from the musical Hair, which is about the cunter culture of the 60’s and focuses largely on the cultural significance of hair. I started thinking more and more about how different hairstyles are perceived and how hair itself can be seen as a sight of resistance, as well as self-expression. After I started going to MTH, I learned about the differences between white and Black relations with their hair. For example, that chemical straighteners are used not only because straight hair is “beautiful” but also because Black daughters weren’t taught how to care for, treat and style their hair precisely because their natural hair wasn’t valued. I would really have liked to attend Prof. Haley’s talk last night, but was driving home to ohio for the weekend.

I also liked what Kate had posted about how nail designs aren’t proper or improper in and of themselves, rather, designs are racialized to one group or another and thus acquire stereotypes. I think the most powerful thing you said was that if white women started wearing these “gaudy” nails, then they would start to be seen as “creative” or something of that sort. I was disturbed by what that 30 something white guy said, I don’t blame you for not confronting him about it, 1) because he’s your superior, but 2) because those types of beliefs are so misled and deeply ingrained that attempting to address the situation in a way that would actually alter his conceptions is almost impossible, at least in one conversation.

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3 thoughts on “Week 8

  1. TC, even though you missed class it’s obvious that you are trying to educate yourself on topic of hair. Way to go for attending More Than Hair and for stepping up and being on the Eboard. I have always wanted to go to More Than Hair but I have never attended a meeting in the two years or so that it has been up and running. Maybe I will take some inspiration from you and make some time in my schedule to continue talking about hair in a community that will understand and guide me to better take care of my tight curls. I can’t always keep them hidden in braids forever.

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  2. TC, thank you for your insightful post. I especially appreciated what you had to say about your experience as a member of More Than Hair. Before your post, I had heard of the club MTH, but I couldn’t tell you much about the organization. Like Melinda, I’ve always wanted to attend a meeting since the club started. To be entirely honest, I did not realize that the group was open to all types of hair. I have nothing to excuse my ignorance prior to your post. I certainly could have read the emails more closely and actually acted upon my curiosity. Since hair is political, I think that it is very important to we address this on our campus. I see MTH as the perfect vehicle with which to spark this discussion. I hope to attend a meeting before the end of the semester. I post this in the hopes that my comment will hold me accountable. 🙂

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  3. Thanks guys! I hope that I do see you both at MTH meetings in the future (Ashley and Porshai are on the Eboard too). I also wanted to clarify something that I think was a little misleading in my original post, which is the sentence “Black daughters weren’t taught how to care for, treat and style their hair precisely because their natural hair wasn’t valued”; the point I was actually trying to get at here is that there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of natural hair in many communities of color, not only reflecting internalized standards but also because the “hair knowledge” was largely impacted by this and therefor hair care wasn’t passed on because natural hair was suppressed. From attending MTH, I know that a lot of people wanted to embrace their natural hair but didn’t know how to manage it because they were never taught it, similarly, a lot of mainstream products are made for white people’s hair (sometimes even including chemical straighteners) further complicating access to proper hair care products even after gaining the knowledge.

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