Hair Story is a historical and anecdotal exploration of Black Americans' tangled hair roots. A chronological look at the culture and politics behind the ever-changing state of Black hair from fifteenth-century Africa to the present-day United States, it ties the personal to the political and the popular.
* Why Black American slaves used items like axle grease and eel skin to straighten their hair.
* How a Mexican chemist straightened Black hair using his formula for turning sheep's wool into a minklike fur.
* How the Afro evolved from militant style to mainstream fashion trend.
* What prompted the creation of the Jheri curl and the popular style's fall from grace.
* The story behind Bo Derek's controversial cornrows and the range of reactions they garnered.
Major figures in the history of Black hair are presented, from early hair-care entrepreneurs Annie Turnbo Malone and Madam C. J. Walker to unintended hair heroes like Angela Davis and Bob Marley. Celebrities, stylists, and cultural critics weigh in on the burgeoning sociopolitical issues surrounding Black hair, from the historically loaded terms "good" and "bad" hair, to Black hair in the workplace, to mainstream society's misrepresentation and misunderstanding of kinky locks.
Hair Story is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history, and it's a book that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.
Ayana D. Byrd graduated from Barnard College and is the co-editor of Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, as well as magazines including Glamour, Essence and Rolling Stone. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Lori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University. A graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she is also the author of the memoir Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three children.
In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, "Sister Citizen" instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.