OVERRIDE

Hair Story

Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps

St. Martin's Griffin

Two world wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a Jheri curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the antebellum practice of shaving the head in an attempt to pass as a "free" person to the 1998 uproar over a White third-grade teacher's reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair linger as we enter the twenty-first century.

Tying the personal to the political and the popular, Hair Story takes a chronological look at the culture behind the ever-changing state of Black hair-from fifteenth century Africa to the present-day United States. Hair Story is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history and that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

1
 
Black Hair in Bondage: 1400–1899
 
 
The Story Starts in Africa
The story of Black people’s hair begins where everything began—in Africa. Not surprisingly, the birthplace of both astronomy and alchemy also gave rise to a people in perfect harmony with their environment. Indeed the dense, spiraling curls of African hair demonstrate evolutionary genius. Like natural air-conditioning, this frizzy, kinky hair insulates the head from the brutal intensity of the sun’s rays. Of course there is not one single type of African hair, just as there
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for Hair Story

"[An] entertaining and concise survey . . . A book that successfully balances popular appeal with historical accuracy."—Publishers Weekly

"Taps into the art and history of how Black hair is perceived in America in a way that will no doubt be relevant for generations to come."—The Source

"Hair Story presents an absorbing rendition of American history told through Black hair. In prose that is both humorous and haunting, the authors manage to bring vividly to life a subject most would consider inconsequential. After reading this comprehensive tale, people will walk away with a whole new appreciation for Black hair and all of its wonder and power."—Lloyd Boston, author of Men of Color: Fashion, History, Fundamentals

"From antiquity to the present day, Black hair has been both ornamentation and a medium of artistic expression. At the same time, its changing political and cultural values have often mirrored the current social climate. Hair Story, in documenting our natural hair's beauty and capacity for communication, brings to life and infuses with historical relevance this unique slice of Americana."Harriette Cole, author of Jumping the Broom and How to Be

"[This book combines] keen historical insight with pop-cultural anecdotes."—Entertainment Weekly

"A comprehensive and colorful look at a very touchy subject."—Essence

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps

  • Ayan D. Byrd holds a bachelors degree in political science from Barnard College. Her work has appeared in Vibe, Rolling Stone, Honey, and InStyle magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    Lori L. Tharps attended Smith College and received a Masters Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Ayana Byrd
  • Lori Tharps
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

Hair Story

Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps

BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Griffin

BACK