Back to Natural Movement (02:38)
Black people are often discriminated against for letting their hair grow naturally. For generations, most black woman would straighten their hair, but the trend is slowly fading away.
Our African History (02:16)
In many African cultures, hairstyles were used to symbolize class or status. Shaving hair was a common oppressive tactic used by colonizers.
"Good" and "Bad" Hair (01:38)
Lighter skin and straighter hair were seen as more desirable by white societies because it was closer to themselves. In the post-slavery era, black women began practicing the "politics of respectability," which was a political and social strategy that went against stereotypes of black women at the time.
The Meaning of Natural Hair (03:16)
In mainstream culture, afros for black women remained a symbol of rebel while they had not for other groups. There is still an assumption that black women with natural hair have certain politics or beliefs about black Americans.
Earliest Hair Memories (06:01)
Many black women remember disliking their hair as children because it took so long to straighten. Many remember being burned by hot combs and perms. Most were first told their hair was unacceptable at home.
The natural hair movement in the 1960s and 1970s was closely connected to Civil Rights and the Black Power Movements. Many activists thought about the cultural oppression from slavery and how it was still shaping the behavior of black Americans.
1980s and 1990s (02:19)
Chemicals to enhance jheri and S curls were commonly used in the 1980s and their damaging effects lead to an increase in braids and baldness. In the 1990s, natural hair began popular in hip hop and among college students.
The "New" Natural Hair Movement (07:22)
The modern natural hair movement is more about individual expression than it was in earlier decades. The internet created a community around natural hair and gave a platform to share tips and products.
Back to Natural: The Calling (05:13)
More than 70% of black woman have hair breakage from straightening chemicals. Many people saw going natural as a calling that needed a level of confidence and maturity.
The Response and The Impact (03:53)
Some black communities still view natural hair as rebellious or symbolizing a militant political belief. Many adults were nervous about telling their parents about their decision. Natural hair gives people a sense of freedom and confidence.
Our Global Family (05:24)
Natural hair has become popular for black women in France. The internet had made it easy for natural hair styles to be popular throughout the world.
Professional Life (06:08)
Some workplaces still ban natural hairstyles for being "unprofessional." Many black women experience discrimination in the workplace, usually from other women.
Education: The Great Equalizer (02:46)
Many black children are facing discrimination about their hair in schools. School policies usually call natural hair disruptive or inappropriate.
American media pushed the idea that only white women were attractive, so black women with natural hair were deemed ugly. Many black teenagers, who were socialized mostly with white children, did not think black people were attractive until college.
Parents in the natural hair movement are hoping to give their children different ideas about hair than they had. Some parents have had conversations about hair and what it means to black culture and history.
Credits: Back to Natural (01:29)
Credits: Back to Natural
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