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From the Kitchen to the ParlorLanguage and Becoming in African American Women's Hair Care$
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Lanita Jacobs-Huey

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304169

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304169.001.0001

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“BTW: How Do You Wear Your Hair?”

“BTW: How Do You Wear Your Hair?”

Gender and Race in Computer-mediated Hair Debates

(p.89) 5 “BTW: How Do You Wear Your Hair?”
From the Kitchen to the Parlor

Lanita Jacobs-Huey (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Based on insights gleaned from a two-month Internet debate about African American hair and identity politics, this chapter illustrates how gender and race come into play in black women's political claims about hair. For example, many African American women employed cultural discourse styles to communicate their own hair-care ideologies while critiquing those of others. They also utilized cultural hair terms to establish their cultural knowledge and extensive black hair-care experience, and hence their right to speak on such issues as whether or not hair straightening is indicative of self-hatred among black women. In Internet discussions, the participants' references to hairstyle and texture became an explicit means of constructing racial identity and authenticity. The question “BTW [By the way], how do you wear your hair?” was an indirect way of assessing a speaker's ethnic identity and presumed racial consciousness vis-a-vis their hairstyle choices.

Keywords:   identity politics, African American hair, gender, hair

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