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All of these resources promote emotional solidarity, hair care tips and political support for resisting age-old stereotypes of what natural African hair should look like.
From the Dominican Republic´s Miss Rizos to the natural hair festivals in Brooklyn, New York, to the Natural hair pageants in Cuba and Brazil, Afro-descended populations are making a loud cultural, political and economic statement about how their personhood will be situated on the global stage.
(Many enslaved Africans used elaborate cornrows as hairstyles to demarcate the path for the Underground Railroad in the southern parts of the U. during slavery.) Afro, tightly curled hair, symbolic of all things African, became the signifier of all things dirty, uncontrollable, unpresentable, savage.
Essentially, your hair became a constant reminder of your status as slave or having a slave past.
Our discussion that evening about beauty, acceptance, the global natural hair movement, family pressure, religion and notions of “professionalism” is the impetus for this multi-part Afro Costa Rican Natural Hair Series, The political and historical context of Black hair within the West is too long and complex for this column, but what is clear is that there is a long standing legacy, dating back from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, that stigmatizes the ways in which black men and women wear their natural hair.
Taken from the examples of white womanhood on slave plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas, the ideals around “good hair” (“) were conflated with “straight hair,” as many enslaved black women were fully responsible for the grooming of their white mistresses and owners, while they did not have the resources – combs, oils – to sustain their own hair.
The girls had different textures of curly hair, and most of their hair care as children was taken over by their father´s black side of the family.
Trisha recommended that I join a closed Facebook group called founded by Ichael, an Afro-Tica.The non-subtle public standards of beauty which bombard TV and social and print media do not use an Afro-centric phenotype as the epitome of beauty ideals.Rather, the tall, thin, straight-haired European woman – and man – maintains the center of desire, and the drive to attain these ideals has created incredible havoc within Afro-descended communities, especially for women.As children, the girls had their natural hair braided, twisted and maintained a weekly washing/oiling/braiding ritual every Saturday.
Pamela said that by fifth grade, she was wearing box braids and though she enjoyed the freedom of its easy styling, sometimes she was called “dirty” by her peers.
Tico Torres is currently married to Maria Alejandra Marquez.