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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Why black hair matters

“Who does your hair?”

“How does it stay like that?”

“How do you wash it?” 

Black hair has always been a subject of compliments, controversy and confusion with people of other cultures often having misconceptions about the unique textures and styles of their melanated peers. While people of other backgrounds may not be able to personally relate to the experience of having black hair, it is good for everyone to be educated on the history, the importance, and the stigmas around it.

Why is black hair important?

Two-strand twists are a style in which two strands of hair are wrapped tightly around each other. This forms a coil like shape. Illustration by Areli Smith.

Black hair is important because it helps define the person who wears it. Hair is a form of self and cultural expression much like how clothing is. It can show where a person is from, what they’re interested in, or what group they identify with.

“As African Americans, our hair is our signature of who we identify as. Black hair is curly, straight, locked, braided, long, medium, short, twisted, natural, and so much more,” Yvonne Taylor, who has been a licensed cosmetologist since 1995, said.

Taylor owns a hair shop in Orlando on South Primrose Dr. and has been doing hair since she was young, well before receiving her cosmetology license.

It’s not just a haircut, it’s more than a style, it helps establish a sense of personal confidence that stems from tradition and culture.

“My hair means everything, whenever I go to a barber the one thing I will never get is a buzz cut because my hair defines me, it’s who I am,” junior Eddie Sanchez (3C) said.

Another important aspect of black hair is the relationship between client and stylist. Many African Americans have their hair done by a close relative or family friend or have had the same barber for years. Some go to the same stylist that their grandparents and parents went to. When a client is in the same room with a hair dresser for hours and that hair dresser is in control of how they are going to look for the next month a connection is formed between them.

“What I enjoy about doing hair is transforming people into someone they love looking at in the mirror. I have been doing hair since I was in middle school. I used to meet girls at school just to style their hair before school,” Taylor said.

 

What makes black hair different?

Box braids are made by sectioning hair into a desired number of parts then taking three strands and wrapping them in alternating patterns. Illustration by Areli Smith.

Black hair is different not only in appearance, but in the way it’s groomed, and the way it grows.

“Black hair is probably the most complicated hair to maintain. We have different textures of curly hair which has to be maintained often, if not it will lock up,” Taylor said.

The hair follicles on the heads of black people are curved, this results in each strand of hair growing in a spring-shaped or zig-zag pattern. Black hair, for the most part, falls in between 3A and 4C curl patterns, a scale of measuring the curliness of hair. 3A hair consists of looser curls and usually grows downward as opposed to outward, and it’s not uncommon for those of other races to have this hair type as well. On the other end of the spectrum you have 4C hair. 4C hair is made of extremely tight curls and is much thicker than other hair types. 3B, 3C, 4A and 4B all fall somewhere in this spectrum and are common in blacks of all different nationalities. 

Black hair does not need to be washed every day. This may come as a shock to some, but it does not mean that hygiene is not extremely important. Some wash every few days while others wash every other week, depending on individual hair texture and style. In between washes, it’s good to apply natural oils to the hair and the scalp to avoid dryness. Too much washing and combing can cause breakage. 

“I apply oil and let it sit for two hours, I double shampoo it then I put conditioner in,” junior Grace Jackson (3B) said.

Every black person has their own method of how they keep their hair clean.

“I let the shampoo sit for a bit, wash it out, then put conditioner in, after I wash my body I put more conditioner in, rinse the conditioner out, finally I put leave-in conditioner in after the shower,” junior Eddie Sanchez (3C) said.

Many wonder how the hair is able to stay together without unraveling when it’s in a twisted or braided style. The unique curved hair follicle of curly hair acts as a sort of velcro, and curls wrap around each other allowing hair to stay in these unique styles without the need for hair ties or rubber bands.

Dreadlocks or locs are formed by allowing hair to mat and lock together. They can be started by allowing twists to lock or with a freeform method. Illustration by Christin Smith.

Stigma

While black hairstyles have become much more accepted in our society, there are still instances of discrimination on the basis of hair. As recently as August 2023, Texas high school student Darryl George was suspended for his barrel rolls, a style in which dreadlocks are coiled back in rows along the head. Up until 2017, the U.S. Army had a ban in place on dreadlocks.

Black hair has throughout American history been seen as unhygienic or unprofessional, however, a lot of progress is being made with many states passing various versions of the CROWN Act, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act. A 2023 CROWN research study showed that 20% of black women ages 25-34 have been sent home from work because of their hair. 

An African American student’s mother  was told by her manager at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that she may need to change her hair for work.

Bantu knots originate in Southern Africa. Hair is sectioned and then wrapped in a way that stacks the hair on itself and forms a spiral knot. Illustration by Christin Smith.

“They told me and a man that I worked with who also had curly hair that it didn’t fit the Disney look and asked if I could make it less big,” the parent said.

While local Florida governments like Broward County have implemented policies prohibiting hair discrimination in employment practices, statewide bills have struggled to pass. 

Regardless of prejudice black hair is beautiful, unique and a staple of African American identity that can be worn at many different lengths and in a vast number of styles.

“Black hair is beautiful, black hair is unique, black hair is different, and it’s important for others to understand and appreciate that,” Taylor said.

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About the Contributors
Isaiah Macri
Isaiah Macri, Staff Reporter
Isaiah Macri is a junior at Hagerty High School this is his first year on staff. Isaiah enjoys writing and is interested in history. He likes to travel and experience new places and cultures.
Christin Smith
Christin Smith, Staff Illustrator
Christin Smith is a junior who has been in Digital Design for three years. She enjoys digital art and drawing which is why she contributes some illustrations to the BluePrint.
Areli Smith
Areli Smith, Staff Illustrator
Areli Smith is a senior at Hagerty High School and this is her fourth year in digital design. She has always been drawn to illustration which led her to getting involved in creating illustrations for HHS Blueprint. Her passions for art are shown with her membership in National Art Honor society and her involvement in multiple murals around the school.
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