History of Black Hair: What Natural Symbolizes in the Black Culture


For centuries, our hair has been a way to express ourselves, our culture, and our creativity. Our history, or perhaps our hair-story, can be dated back to times when the common "Press and Curl" was just as popular as a "Wash and Go." From different styles such as the afros, slick back products, and innovative tools, the Black community has made strides for the haircare industry and their communities. In honor of Crowns and Cuts Hair Care Events for African American Foster & Low Income Youth, we are exploring Black hairstyles, where they came from, and how it has made an impact in modern society. As we continue to set the bar for hair creativity, we hope to see more appreciation from society rather than discrimination. While our crown symbolizes our innovation and spirit, it's a constant reminder of how we have come as a society and how far we still have to go. 



Natural Hair Movement 


As the Black community continued their fight in society, men and women began embracing a natural look that symbolized African Americans from root to tip. The Civil Rights Movement brought the rise of the natural movement as well and encouraged men and women in the 1960s and '70s to accept their coils and curls and move away from any manipulations. Following their message of Black Power, the European standards did not align with their mission. Impactful statements from popular icons like Angela Davis and Diana Ross were made not only made from what they said but by saying them in their afro hairstyles. Men such as Jimi Hendrix were also making an influence by natural hair in the form of activism. Unfortunately, these hairstyles faced backlash for decades to come and were often deemed unprofessional. It would be many years later before laws were passed to prevent people from discriminating against Black women and men for their hair. Still, this movement made an important impact on the community and provided a look that swept the disco generation. 



Modern Day Hair Discrimination 


While the concept of Black hairstyles has evolved and changed over time, the way society has approached Black hair has only changed in recent years. For far too long Black people have been disciplined in the workplace, in school and youth sports, and in other professional settings because of how we've worn our hair. It begs the question of why should Black people be forced to adopt a different hairstyle that goes against how it naturally grows. There are many industries that have failed to take into consideration different hair types, which can have a huge impact on mental health. In recent studies, experts have claimed that hair discrimination can have a devastating long-term effect on self-esteem in addition to mental health. This feeling of not being physically adequate in our natural state is more than just upsetting. It's a form of rejection that perpetuates negative self-talk. Unfortunately, it has only been in recent years that the government has taken notice of this unfairness and has acted on a higher level. In California, The Crown Act was created in 2019 to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles. While this is only in one of the 50 states, it's important that society actively requests this protection throughout the country. 

June 01, 2023 — Khellia Koonce