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PANELIST: Untangling the Politics of Black Hair - IntelligenceSq

Straight, braided or afro – black hair speaks volumes. The Williams sisters were encouraged by their parents to have braided hair, not a weave; Michelle Obama’s bangs inspired countless column inches; Oprah rocked a 3.5lb afro wig, but not the real thing. And then there’s Beyoncé who has been known to restyle her hair nine times in a day. Usually seen with a fabulous blow-out, she recently shared a new picture of herself rocking the curls she was born with.

Some argue that the black woman who straightens her hair is being untrue to herself. But is that really so different from a brunette dyeing her hair blonde? And is a black woman who wears her hair naturally – as more and more black people do nowadays – a sign of rebellion against the pressure to conform? Or should the debate be brought to an end and hair just allowed to be hair?

In this discussion, we explored the complicated decision-making process black women face when it comes to hair.