Research Proposal

Topics: Black people, African American, White people Pages: 5 (1607 words) Published: September 5, 2013
Imari Allen
July 27, 2013
Evolution of African American Hair
What has made an influential impact of the evolution of African American hair?

Topic Outline: African American Hair
I. Introduction
-Good Hair v. Bad Hair
-Cultural Perception
-Natural v. Relaxed (Hair Health)
II. History/ Influential Figures
-Black Madonna
-Madame CJ Walker
-George E Johnson
-Angela Davis
III. Evolution/ Different types
-Shaved heads
-Pressed/Hot Comb
-Weaves/ Wigs
IV. Cultural Perception
-Cultural Hegemony
-“Good Hair”
-Society’s perfect hairstyle
-Ideal Image
V. Conclusion
-Historical Influences
-Cultural Perception
-Good Hair v. Bad Hair
-American Influence
“This was my first really big step toward self-degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man's hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are "inferior" — and white people "superior" — that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look "pretty" by white standards.” Malcolm X was influenced by belief.‎ The topic I chose that related to one aspect of the African American experience is the subject of African American hair and the controversy it has brought through the years. African American hair has social and political meaning. The evolution of black hair has so much meaning and power behind it. Hair along with other things gives African Americans an identity. And depending on how you wear, helps you break from the cultural hegemony of white Europeans. In this paper I hope to talk about the “hairstory” of African American hair and what it represented. Talk about those who were very influential to many African American women and men. I also hope to present the different types of hairstyles and how they came about. And the cultural perception of “good hair” versus “bad hair”, and how white supremacy has influenced these two notions. This topic interests me so much because I have had so many people come up to me and ask to touch my hair, and tell me I have “good hair” by all types of ethnicities including African American. And it intrigues me that so many people take interest in the texture and looks of African American hair whether it is natural, braided, or perm. Also I have really taken hold to the ideal of cultural hegemony and I feel that the different phases black hair has went through directly correlates to cultural hegemony. Historically African American hair has been through a lot and has received a lot of views throughout politics and society. In 1444: Europeans trade on the west coast of Africa with people wearing elaborate hairstyles, including locks, plaits and twists. 1619: First slaves brought to Jamestown; African language, culture and grooming tradition begin to disappear. 1700s: Calling black hair “wool,” many whites dehumanize slaves. The more elaborate African hairstyles cannot be retained. 1800s: Without the combs and herbal treatments used in Africa, slaves rely on bacon grease, butter and kerosene as hair conditioners and cleaners. Lighter-skinned, straight-haired slaves command higher prices at auction than darker, more kinky-haired ones. Internalizing color consciousness, blacks promote the idea that blacks with dark skin and kinky hair are less attractive and worth less. 1865: Slavery ends, but whites look upon black women who style their hair like white women as well-adjusted. “Good” hair becomes a prerequisite for entering certain schools, churches, social groups and business networks. 1880: Metal hot combs, invented in 1845 by the French, are readily available in the United States. The comb is heated and used to press and temporarily straighten kinky hair. (StrawBerriCurls, 2012) The 1900s is when we started to conform to the white culture trying to straighten and to get our...

Cited: Ayanya Bird, L. T. (2001). Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin 's Press.
Jacobs-Huey, L. (2006). From the Kitchen to the Parlor : Language and Becoming in African American Women 's Haircare. New York: Oxford University Press.
Joseph, A. (2002). A History of African-American Hair. The North American Review, Vol. 287, No.2, 6.
Louis, C. S. (2009, August 27). Black Hair, Still Tangled in Politics. Skin Deep, p. E1 NY Times.
Prince, A. (2009). The Politics of Black Women 's Hair. In A. Prince, The Politics of Black Women 's Hair (pp. 69, 88-89, 94). Ontario: Insomniac Press.
Registry, A. A. (2000-2013). Black Haircare and Cultre, A Story. Retrieved from African American Registry:
Rooks, N
StrawBerriCurls. (2012, February 23). A Timeline of Black Hair In History. Retrieved from StrawBerriCurls:
Hayes, B
Lewis, G. (2009, Feb 26). African-americans honor 'hair-itage '. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved from
(Prince, 2009) (Louis, 2009) (Joseph, 2002)
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