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Black Hair Is Black History

In order to truly appreciate the vastness of Black history, you can’t overlook Black hair. Nor can you disrespect it. As the world gravitates more towards the cultural acceptance of Black hair in workspaces and even in personal life, it’s time to honor it for the beauty it beholds. Read a story that explores why Black hair is Black history in a recent piece from photographer David Markwei at CBC News.

David Markwei/CBC News

Recently, a Black woman named Tessica Brown became the subject of memes and ridicule when she shared that she had mistakenly used Gorilla glue spray to try to keep her hair in place. But the story of “Gorilla Glue Girl” also led to a wave of concern among the online Black community — informally referred to as ‘Black Twitter’ — because they worried that she could suffer a range of issues from hair loss to scalp damage. 

GoFundme page raised upwards of $20,000 to fund Brown’s recovery, and Ghanaian-American plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Obeng performed the $12,500 procedure free of charge to dissolve the glue and save what was left of her hair. As surreal as this ordeal sounds, the support from Black folks clearly highlights the deep-seated care we have for our hair — though society by and large does not value this important aspect of our identity.

David Markwei/CBC News

The evolution of Black hairstyles is rooted in Black history and identity. In pre-colonial Africa, men from the Wolof tribe (today Gambia and Senegal) wore braids when at war, and women from the Zulu tribe in South Africa traditionally wore Bantu knots. During the Civil Rights era, activists such as Angela Davis adopted the Afro style to signal acceptance of natural hair and reject Eurocentric beauty standards. 

Today, there is an even greater movement for broad acceptance of our natural hair. In the United States for example, Black-led groups have successfully lobbied for legislation banning hair discrimination in the workplace.

Read the full story on CBC News here.

Vanessa Roberson

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