Black Women and the Politics of Beauty

I just finished reading my friend Dr. Carmen Kynard’s brilliant post about seven-year-old Tiana Parker being sent home from the Oklahoma Charter school where she was enrolled because of her hairstyle. The school’s dress code does not allow “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles.”  Kynard highlights the political nature of beauty–especially as it gets articulated through black women’s bodies. Filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa presents an op-doc for The New York Times that video-opdoc-naturalhairSUB-thumbWidefeatures black women discussing why they have chosen to embrace their natural hair while at the same time contending that their choice was not political. As Kynard contends, these women claim their decision to go natural is “politically neutral.”

Kynard writes about Dr. Yaba Blay’s beautiful response to Tiana’s tears. Its beauty lies in the witness she offers to Tiana’s pain and the loving, tender address she offers in response. The Care Package for Tiana results from the aftermath of the violence Tiana experienced. As soon as you get a chance, check out the “care package” by following the link above so that you can view the “digital book of photos and messages from 111 woman and girls from all over the country and all over the world, all of whom wear their hair in locs, all of whom want Tiana to know that she and her hair are PERFECT.”

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