PDF The Root of the Matter - A Natural Hair Self-Help Guide

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The authors are especially adept at walking the fine line between critique and condemnation. I was shocked to discover through their account the extent to which hair styles are still thought to both signify and confer economic and social status. They smartly observe a host of contradictions and fissures within the black community that merit discussion, but they contextualize them fairly, prompting reflection versus mere reaction. They also infuse historical voices and searing details into their narrative that keep it lively and personal. I lamented the irony of black newspapers that wrote about racial pride on pages overrun with advertisements for skin whiteners and hair straighteners.

I loved this book and recommend it highly to anyone seeking insight into black culture in America—our hair speaks volumes.

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Quibbles In fact, I have only a few grumbles about it: the artwork, the less nuanced present-day perspective and a few too many mentions of one Nat Mathis, who by some editing glitch was introduced in four different chapters. Perhaps the authors assume that the reader brings sufficient personal knowledge of the social and cultural context in which new hairstyles and hair attitudes are emerging.

Maybe the reasons behind the profusion of styles we see today are too hard to pinpoint given the increasingly diverse social, economic and cultural lives of black people in America. After all, today we are mass incarcerated in jail cells, own television networks and occupy the White House, a range of black experience never before witnessed.

What exactly was going on with black people in the 70s and 80s that made a Jheri-curl wet mess that it was seem attractive? How are contemporary trends like failing public schools, growing wealth inequality and a black First Family expressed in hair? I picked up a copy of this book at my local library.

Even though I'm a former hairdresser, I never learned how to work on "ethnic" or "black" hair because there were no African-American students in my cosmetology class. If there were no African-American students enrolled in the cosmetology course at the local vocational school, African-American customers would not come into the beauty school. Same thing happened to me in the real world once I was employed at salons- no African-American hairdress I picked up a copy of this book at my local library. Same thing happened to me in the real world once I was employed at salons- no African-American hairdressers in the salon, no African-American customers.

Because of this, African-American hair has fascinated me yet been out of reach. I have had conversations at work with patrons and coworkers about the African-American community's perception of hair and the reactions women receive when they wear their hair super short and natural. As the title suggests, the authors dig deep into the roots of African-American hair culture- all the way back to Africa.

In Africa, hairstyles were used to advertise marital status or lack thereof0, "age, religion, ethnic identity, wealth and rank within the community" p. Because of the high status of hair within many numerous African cultures, when the slave traders shaved slaves' heads this caused great cultural shame "and the highest indignity. Arriving without their signature hairstyles, slaves The American slave system and work hierarchy environment helped "develop the social structure of the slave community- 'light-skinned' house slaves and 'dark-skinned' field slaves; 'good hair' vs.

This system of skin color gradients and hair types are still used within the African-American community today which has psychologically harmed millions of African-Americans as they use various products and chemicals in an attempt to fit into a rigid standard of beauty. The book covers historical moments in African-American hair history such as: Madame C. Walker, the pressing comb, the relaxer, the Afro, wigs, weaves and the natural hair movement. As the natural hair movement becomes a global phenomenon and business opportunity many hair care companies are realizing that "the future of hair care is going to be about texture, not race" p.

View 1 comment. Oct 11, Dorian Price rated it really liked it. On a personal note, I went back to my natural hair in December and I never considered myself a champion in the natural hair journey. I was simply having a hard time caring for my relaxed hair because it was dry, brittle, and constantly shedding. I also believe my hormones were acting up since I just found out I was pregnant with my second child. Three years later, there are constant debates and festivals centered around natural hair. Well, this book is an excellent source since it shows the history behind natural hair.

It profiles the psychology of African American hair as well as outlines the roots pun intended behind the movement. This book begins where African American history begins, the tribes of Africa and the pride that was once held in black hair. It continues with how the pride and care put into Black hair was demolished during the middle passage and the beginnings of slavery. It expands on the idea of Black hair with examining the beauty standards of the day in America and how enslaved Black people had no luxuries and none of the oils and tools they used in Africa were available to them to properly care for their hair.

Issues of race and colorism also weighed heavily throughout the history of Black culture and still has an effect on how Black hair is perceived in society. From the earliest parts of history to when this version was released many wide ranging topics are discussed including the industry and money behind it.


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As a Black woman there are many parts of this story and the history of black hair that I was well aware of. Hair Story though brought all of these concepts together and did a really good job of simply presenting the facts. I appreciated how well researched and comprehensive the information was. The area in which I was completely unaware was the industry behind Black hair and how it has changed so extensively over the centuries.

If you are a complete novice to the subject then this would be a great book to introduce you to the beauty that is Black hair. The problems I have surrounding this book has to do with the way it was structured. At times it became repetitive and redundant. There were interviews included throughout the book, in the middle of chapters, and more often than not it completely disrupted the flow of information. I would still recommend this book because it does have a plethora of information and really handles the topic well. Overall, I give this story 3. Jun 12, Ashley Holstrom rated it really liked it Shelves: adult , history , race , author-of-color , non-fiction , , ebook , politics , reviewed , body.

Oh my goodness, you guys, this one is so good. We get the whole history of Black hair in Africa and beyond, with portraits of hairstyles through the years, and advertisements for Black hair products. We get the story of politics in Black hairstyles. Apr 12, Serenity rated it liked it Recommends it for: Especially Imus. That insensitive man needs to read this book to understand the history of kinky hair since he seems to have an issue about it. It is a good read about black hair politics. I went through all the phases of kinky hair from press in curl, perm, natural, braids, twists and then press and curl and back to the creamy crack.

Now, I am suffering from alopecia so I am allowing my hair to be pressed. No more creamy crack for me because it is so wack! Apr 22, Caroline Harbour rated it it was amazing.


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  • Dec 10, Beverlee rated it it was amazing Shelves: reading-list , august-reads. Not only recommended reading, this should be required. I say this because like it or not, black hair is a political topic. We should be able to enjoy dressing our hair in whatever manner one chooses. Within our community, this rule can be enforced strictly by women perming their hair every four to six weeks and by men getting their hair cut close to the head. Hair Story is more than debating hair textures and unwritten society rules of acceptance.

    Hair Story was published in and in , some changes have occurred. Mar 19, Lashanda rated it really liked it. I read this when I started transitioning from chemically straightened hair to natural hair. So this book wasn't my inspiration for making the changed, but it armed me with a lot of knowledge to continue the journey.

    It's a little light on writing style and substance but still one of the better books on the shelves in this subject area. Jun 13, Mscharlee rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: women. Wonderful book! It surprisingly went all the way back to the days when blacks were still in African and ruled as kings and queens adorning regal cornrows and braids, then went all the way through to the present where we are now sporting weaves, blowouts, blonde hair and everything else under the sun.

    Funny and insightful, it was a great read. So glad to own it. Dec 09, Mallory rated it it was amazing. Really excellent and informative text. I thought it was far too short and could have been more comprehensive, however. As a natural myself, I think it's a really important book for anyone with or without hair on their head, no matter the texture. May 18, Janee' rated it liked it.

    How My Natural Hair Taught Me Self-Love | The Rina Collective

    In the process of going natural 2 years ago I found this book very informative. I was also able to share relevant information to others as well. I would advise anyone who is interested in reading about their hair history to read this book. May 20, Sierra the Nerdgirl rated it liked it. Interesting but dry. A mix of history and industry research, wrapped with antidotes. A look into black hair from start to finish, and I enjoyed it all. I've read a little about what a controversial issue hair is in the black community, and this book really does a good job explaining it.

    The book then traces the 20th century black-hair experience I've read a little about what a controversial issue hair is in the black community, and this book really does a good job explaining it. The book then traces the 20th century black-hair experience conking, CJ Walker, Afros, dredlocks and the continuing debate: is natural hair a statement of black identity or just tacky?

    Is it acceptable for whites to wear black styles?

    Why is your hair so DRY?!?? How to properly moisturize natural hair!!

    Can black hair-related businesses survive without being swallowed by bigger white-owned companies? Extremely interesting.


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    I liked this book a lot. Getting my first perm at age 4 up until age 17, I related to this story a lot. Black people have been taught to hate their looks for generations, with hair being the most criticized after our skin.

    Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

    I thought she'd talk about how, for many, shaking off that expectation requires not just new techniques but also a giant leap of faith, a reprogramming of the beauty ideal and a concerted effort to maintain self-esteem in a world that hasn't quite caught on to thinking any of that is a great idea. My assumption was that we'd all agree that "Team Natural" couldn't — and shouldn't — translate to the heads of white women, no matter how chemical- or color-free, because there's simply very little of the same stuff at stake. But that's not what she said, and after speaking to her, I began to look at this a little differently.

    And assuming that the reference in your question to "some random white person" means a white person who uses traditionally black products and techniques and is excited about it — versus someone who's doing a "How adorably ironic that I'm claiming a black thing" routine — I might change yours, too. Sixty percent of the world is curly — although you wouldn't know it.

    So there are a lot of white women who used treatments, who used to flatiron their hair every single day. While she fully admitted that for black women, "hair involves a lot more history and negative stereotypes, which are less so for looser curls, whether biracial hair or white hair," and that there's "a whole lot more social stigma wrapped up in us going natural," she also said that the natural-hair community has nonetheless become a very inclusive and sought-after space for women of all colors who are trying to find versatility.

    If their hair is curly and they've been straightening for two decades, that takes some transitioning," Walton said. And you know what? If a white woman is learning to deal with a hair texture that society says is unkempt, uncute or otherwise less than ideal, I'd frankly much rather stumble upon "I just did a twist-out! It's sooo nappy!

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    I have black girl's hair" Yes, these are things I've heard , as if that were the worst-possible thing that could happen to someone. Walton argues that black and white women can actually have a lot in common here.

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    Anyone who has struggled to accept hair that much of our culture says is less than ideal knows how hard it is. Is there a spectrum of difficulty? But does it make sense to keep information, techniques, inspiring images and membership in a supportive community away from people from different places on that spectrum who might crave those things just as urgently? I'm starting to think not. Plus, when you start trying to make rules Do you have to have two black parents to say you're "natural"? From as young as 6 to 18 years old, I dealt with this same routine and I lost a lot of confidence and hair throughout these times.

    However, those days were long gone once I graduated from high school, and I decided the frustrating process of straightening my hair and the stressful college schedule was not going to mix. I had to figure out another way of doing my hair. My mother was always my stylist, even though there were times I wanted to report her free services every time she burnt my skin when the comb had to hit my roots.

    It hurt so much, but I knew it was accidental. I never worn extensions up until I was 18 years old, or had my hair relaxed, also because of my mother. Through her experience with relaxed hair and the consequences she suffered because of it, she made sure her daughter would never go through that, which I am grateful for.

    Who made that name up? Because I never had a relaxer, I just transitioned my hair and grew out the heat damage. This hair journey is more than just hair to me, it allowed me to develop a relationship with a quality of mine that I hated for years. It also forced me to face other insecurities that I had with myself, and at that moment I was learning how to practice self-love. Here are three things my hair taught me:. This is why I have so much confidence with my hair, because I learned to accept everything that comes with it. I have to own my texture, and make it beautiful even when society tells me not to.

    It surprises me sometimes because I was just like them; in the beginning of the journey, I had no idea what I was doing. Now, it feels like I encourage others on their journey, and I have no problem talking to someone step by step on styling and what products did not work for me. The biggest tip I know is that no matter how much advice or information someone gives you, you have to try it your way at least once. I need that.

    Another great perk is that last 30 seconds before I walk out the door, and put in my minor touches to my Afro. I never before looked at a mirror feeling amazing until now.