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Watch This Documentary on Braids and Appropriation in America | ELLE

May 01, 2020
It was a way to gain independence. Does our hair have to be braided? It's the


that come out that stop here. Then all the breeze would be suspended like


. That was like my favorite style if you add up all the hours I spent getting my one. Braiding hair as a child probably sums up five years of my life. Steal directly, that's not yours. My first memory of


would be when I was a little girl sitting between my mother or a family member's legs to have them done. braid my hair, or they would put barrettes all over my head and we called it bubbles.
watch this documentary on braids and appropriation in america elle
Everything I exposed my hair to as a kid was always pinning it, twisting it, lifting it up, and tying it up. Danny was twisted. Wash the locks with shampoo. hair up and looked decent and you could roll in the grass and still go to church on Sunday. You know, I was so determined to find out what it would be for


girl. That was like the best braider in our city. You know she was kind. and she also taught me how to braid and I continued practicing with my friends And I took things to school and I braided them at school and I braided them after school And I told the teachers how to braid and things like that, your friend would braid your hair Sometimes Did they know that if they followed the four lanes during lunchtime my friends would take my braids out?
watch this documentary on braids and appropriation in america elle

More Interesting Facts About,

watch this documentary on braids and appropriation in america elle...

And I would get like the curly hair rocker that all day I did my first set of individuals on my own head and it took me three days, three days in a row, like I only stopped to eat and use the bathroom. That's right, one of my friends, you know, she suggested to a young woman that she do my hair. I looked in the mirror at my braid like it was uneven, like this one was a little bit closer this way and this was going a little bit back. He was hurt. and you know, when the lady had the nerve to say: Do I need to fix something?
watch this documentary on braids and appropriation in america elle
Doing our hair also becomes a celebration of who we are and a part of our identity beyond what you actually look like when you let it go too much. so much so that you can do it with black hair, whether straight, twisted or braided, it is so beautiful and so malleable. Maybe you have someone doing a fishtail braid, which is just a big braid in the back? You might have someone who's just doing two shapes, we call them French braids, and then when we think about the corner technique or the style, it becomes very complex for rowing, as we know it's a very African thing, since it is more along the part and a design of where the braid goes more than the braid itself We found a statue from 500 BC Nigeria where the hair was braided And we found this whole world of fabrics that were not called that using all these materials and different societies throughout West Africa.
watch this documentary on braids and appropriation in america elle
It's almost like your social security number. Meaning you could look at someone's hairstyle and determine where they are from, what their status in society is, if they are married, if they are single, if they are a widower, if they are a warrior, if they used to be soldiers, the richer they were. someone in society, the more extravagant their hair was and if we look across the diaspora, that has been one way that African women have expressed their own kind of beauty politics. The Senegalese hair braider might have a very different view. braiding technique than a Nigerian hair braider versus a Brazilian hair braider might have on slave ships, one of the first things that was done was shave someone's hair.
If hair was thought to be a social security number, I can look at you and say all these things about you Because of your hairstyle, suddenly people shave their heads, there is no visual way to tell that you are from this group and that you were this person in this society and when enslaved people were here in the US there had to be a whole new hair. culture that was born from people from all these different groups who didn't have the materials to really take care of their hair. During slavery, Sunday was the day reserved for being able to comb one's hair, it was a time when one could actually fix one's hair.
Rituals were born and also a way to discover how to care for your hair that could last a whole week. You weren't going to be able to do anything until next Sunday, the two main hairstyles that came up were head rags and also braids because someone else can do your hair for X amount of time on a Sunday? and then you're good to go for the rest of the week when we think about African American women during slavery. Covering their hair was something they had to do not until much later. Do we see African American women? participate in an American beauty culture by affirming who they are, whether by ironing their hair, braiding it, or styling it.
There's a kind of cultural aspect where girls or older women go to a place where they find a sense of community. And they also think about the ways they affirm to the world that they love who they are. They love the color of their skin. They love the beauty products they use. That's why people like CJ Walker and others created a way for Africans. American women to what they are business women so that some of them leave the scope of domestic work and that is the economic part of the beauty of the black woman. If you go all the way up and down the east coast you will see populations of African women from Senegal from the Ivory Coast from Nigeria in many cases it is a default that we have these businesses open because unfortunately they are having a hard time getting into other areas because a lot of the women may have very good education in their countries of origin.
But when you come here, often the opportunities are limited and so this skill is a way to generate income? When I moved here, I probably had like $3,000 and it was already five months in, I was so broke it was like sleeping on the floor and in a friend's apartment, so that was the point where I was like, oh my gosh, really I would have done it. I came back and I had nothing and then I started running into customers who were my old customers from the island and they were like, oh, I know this store that needs a freighter.
Dominicans show me a lot of love here. It came as if I was inundated every day. I continued practicing like this making heads of different family members and over time. I came to like seventh grade. I was charging $25 and you could come to my house on Friday and get your braids done for Saturday. So it still took a day, but it was fine, and it was only $25, so it doesn't get any better than that. No, we charge. like $10 $15 it was like a crazy design and everyone was coming to my house. I've had clients since I was 11 or 12 because my mom couldn't do my hair.
So it was like if you did your own hair, you went to your aunt's house and they're not available, you look crazy Or you realize on Sunday afternoons my mom braided my hair, and it was torture I didn't enjoy the experience and she I told the polite version I didn't like what she didn't like. She said I'm glad you could go and do it yourself. I thought, of course, I'm going to do it myself, so I placed my own order and started learning how to lock and turn mop heads, on carpet tassels and fringes. And I learned how to blow dry with a broken brush.
Hair dryer and a fork and that's how I started getting the texture and working it for you. A lot of times, braids were like a last resort, like the only thing I had to resort to should have gotten me caught. a client to pay a bill or things like that. So I'm very grateful for the talent. She has gotten my family out of many tough, tough, tough situations, the freedom to be able to say this is my business. This is my culture. and not having to assimilate into American norms for black women in particular. However, it seems that we are not going to look white, which will always be the ideal in pop culture, in the media, in political debates and in political debates. conversations and everywhere the ideal is based on something we are not like.
Historically we had this whole Melting Pot idea that people were going to come here and preserve their own cultures and functions and be active citizens in the US, but part of that. it was the requirement or background that you are going to assimilate the work in our particular environment during the great migration. As many blacks left the South and moved to northern cities, braided hair on adults was seen as this country's old-fashioned style. of styling your hair and the idea is that if you move to the city, if you want, hair that looks cosmopolitan and sophisticated and for women that means straight hair, so there was a move away from braided hair because you didn't look .
You cited a lot of that has to do with our contemporary context of why we see that there are real consequences for African American women who wear their hair and braids or if their hair gets caught or they decide to do any other style that doesn't fit according to a standard of beauty. Eurocentric, the first time a non-black person saw and popularized braids or cornrows in particular was with Bo Derek in 1979, she was a not very well known actress who was cast in the movie 10. It's a 10 minute part. her husband, who was also her manager, wanted to make sure that she could be used as a springboard to becoming famous, so she was this young blonde who came out of the water with these long blonde braids and the style took off so much that if you start looking at magazines from 1979 like Newsweek, they start calling them braids, and suddenly they started calling them beautiful and acceptable.
Salons were also created just to give bun braids to white women in 1979, charging between three and five hundred dollars. and letting women know that it would probably only last a few days due to the texture of white hair compared to the texture of most black people's hair. a black woman with braids. That was her style for over three days and in 1979 it absolutely didn't cost a black woman between three and five hundred dollars to get her hair braided. They were also considered really exotic. There is nothing exotic about the hairstyle worn by dozens of other non-exotic American blacks in the 1950s, especially the 1960s.
There were always streams of black women, particularly on college campuses and on both coasts, who braided their hair in their hair. hair. By the late '60s and early '70s, the style had really caught on. I was on TV, if you think about Kim Fields on Facts of Life and Janet Jackson on Good. Many times they wore their hair in Two Braids for me it was very important to see someone who looked like me on television and the braids were the things that connected us besides being black girls on television Brandi and Moishe who added justice.
I remember seeing Patra Alicia. Keys started the raids backwards, which was so cool that everyone had fun. It was like what happens in hip-hop in general. You know what I mean, even in basketball, I always sing, I came out with the braids, Iverson is like everyone wants to add worse things. All when I wanted, since your mother wanted, I ever said that someone wanted. I once said you know. What you see is that there is this kind of glorification of the beauty of African American women, which is delusional, but for African American women who wear cornrows there are significant consequences for only wearing that style shortly after Derrick popularized cornrows, There was a court case in 1981, a discrimination lawsuit brought by a black woman named Renee Rodgers.
She had worked for American Airlines and wore her hair in braids. Her legal argument was that her hairstyle was part of her cultural heritage. The judge ruled against her. federal court because he said he styled his hair shortly after the movie ten came out and therefore there was no legal basis to say it was cultural heritage because he was doing something that was essentially imitating how Bo Derek styles her hair. There are many cases where women went with braids or natural hair and that was considered unprofessional because they were expected to socialize and assimilate into white American cultural norms.
I walked into the restaurant and I had black braids of this color. And you know, the restaurant specifications are up to you. You have your hair in a ponytail, away from your face, so it was all over again like it was alone. Just normal dutch braids hanging down. I saw as if the management told me that during my shift all day they sat me down. And he says, "You know, I want to talk to you about your hair," and I ask him, "What's wrong with it?" Thinking he might be too ethnic for the restaurant. Is there any way we can tone it down?
Lower the tone. How do you want me to tone down my braids? Know? I said you know how I feel, but I won't let my hair down. You have other suggestions. He's doing well. I'm going to have to contact the company and see how we can handle this because I just don't think their restaurants are doing well. Then the next day he told me that he didn't have to come to my shift because there is this. general understanding that if you want a black person to look scary or not like fit quote unquote with American values ​​is to show us with naturally textured hair the running joke now at that restaurant since I opened the braid bar More than half of their staff braids their hair here all the white girls there even the white girls their information blocks people Tell me like oh I have to braid my hairhair But I have to take it off on Monday because it's not corporate, you know.
For work or the children they have to come to fight because they have a party on Saturday. But I have to take my braids off to go to school. How does the breeze affect? my education or my productivity at work decades after Bo Derek was responsible for completely whitewashing the cultural heritage of braids through the Kardashians, today doing the same thing with cornrows and other braided styles, I am offended, I was tremendously offended that be heterosexual even steal. I give credit where credit is due. It's outrageous that you call these boxer braids. No, these are corn muffins.
It's not a trend, they've been killing it. innovating it in Africa for years boxer braids Whatever they are, they're actually shitty braids. Anyone who knows anything about braids will tell you they were bad braids. I know I've been wearing braids my entire life. I can tell you. at least thirty years of this is not new I've never known a day without braids It's the audacity to confidently name something you didn't create and that's been around for years That's a problematic thing right They just say like you know what We didn't think of that, but it's great, we like it.
But this is not ours. You know we didn't think of this. I was so bitter that I told people that if you call me to make an appointment for the rape box, good luck on your appointment. Thank you, and I understand. It is deeply offensive that people who have made so much money taking these parts of the black. culture and appropriating them. I wouldn't even have the right terminology behind them to just describe what they've appropriated when things are entering the realm of high fashion, and they're magically something really cool and upper class people can wear them, and you know, being cool and sassy is like a slap in the face to people who were told they looked ghetto and ugly when they wore it.
I get offended when you see box braids labeled as That's all because cultural


is more of an open conversation. I think people have relaxed and have a kind of peace of mind. A lot of people are trying to correct themselves, so I think that's good and gives me hope for the future. Although you may know something about Jack that you perhaps didn't know much about. Once you've learned that he's culture-bound and you may have overstepped your boundaries a bit. And you want to correct that, then that's fine. You know everyone makes mistakes. I'm an artist, I'm a hairdresser.
I think any guy that comes into my space should be able to give them whatever they ask for, so I often get those women with Asian hair and European hair asking for braids, I'm okay with that. with great pride because they come to someone like me knowing that I am from a culture that understands braids and they have had braids too, so you take the initiative and guide them in the most appropriate way to get the best. The better you look, I think that's one of the best things. That has happened in recent years with braids and cornrows.
As? It has become the style we are seeing played by so many black female celebrities. The amount of black women who are so into braids and natural hair right now is such a large amount that it kind of surpasses that kind of quick and weak fashion trick. deal type. I love it. It's just taken its place to show that it's just another way to express yourself really beautifully.

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