Good Hair (09:20)
Dr. Howard Lindsey explains that after slavery, the black middle class privileged those with lighter skin and whiter features in their own communities. Dr. Valerie Johnson and others recall experiences that taught them that the "black" quality of their hair made them less valued in society.
Appearance and Privilege (06:54)
Staceyann Chin explains how facial features tied to ideas of beauty and whiteness directly correlate with privilege. Children with dark skin and African features internalize a negative self-image and associations which are difficult to overcome. Dr. Black Hawk Hancock argues that people buy into categories that oppress them and are constantly undermined by the knowledge of an inadequate appearance; there is a limit to how much people can change their appearance and still be themselves.
Dr. Hancock argues that categories people use in their language become the categories by which people are defined. Appropriating and re-appropriating terms can be risky and damaging when people do not have an understanding of the history of a term. Dr. Johnson describes the revealing results of Dr. Kenneth Clark's doll test, in which most children prefer the white doll, even when they do not identify with it.
Shattering the Monolith (03:46)
Dr. Sandra Jackson introduces problems with the homogenization of the meaning of blackness. There are many black communities and a wide diversity of black experiences. Johnson emphasizes that blackness is mediated; how people accept someone determines how that person accepts the self. Over time, social constructions of race have become naturalized so they are accepted as real definitions and categories.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (07:27)
Dr. Hancock argues that addressing the differences among black communities and experiences is essential. Social dialogue needs to break down the hierarchy of color and features in black society, Dr. Jackson asserts. She explains how early emphasis of the beauty of each child can supply the strength to face criticism.
Credits: "Good Hair" and Other Dubious Distinctions (01:12)
Credits: "Good Hair" and Other Dubious Distinctions
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