#Ireland Don’t Touch My Hair
- Author: Emma Dabiri
- Title: Don’t Touch My Hair (256 pg)
- Published: 2019
- Genre: essays
- List of Challenges 2021
- Monthly plan
- Ms Dabiri’s book begins with her upbringing in Ireland,
- moving through to pre-colonial West Africa,
- to the slave trade in America.
- She discusses the market dominance of beauty products
- …how black hair is valued and misunderstood.
- Hair texture and style have no bearing on one’s ability to succeed.
- Black hair has been and continues to be judged by white standards
- …used as a tool to discriminate.
- Black identity is told through the prism of African hair.
- Historically, the way you wore your hair
- signified your marital status, your tribe, your class
- …and your position in society.”
- Black hair is much more than just hair….!
- Hairstyle is an embodied visual language.
- Ms Dabiri gives White people this advice about African hair:
- “…our hair is spiritual. Look but don’t touch!” (pg 47)
- Strong Point: Ms Emma Dabiri KNOWS what she is talking about!
- She attended the prestigious school SOAS University of London .
- SOAS is one of the world’s leading institutions for the
- study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
- Strong point: this book made me look more closely at art….
- …and the hairstyles represented in it!
- Strong point: I thought I was going to get a book just about hair
- but Ms Dabiri has touched on many themes relating to hairstyles.
- Themes of personal identity,
- cultural traditions, modern aspirations,
- and social and political issues.
- She deleves deeply into her own Yoruba roots
- …..in Benin Africa.
- Strong point: Personal…describing life in Ireland as a black girl:
- “…an environment characterized by a pervasive and
- constant refrain of black inferiority...
- …I was bombarded with it.” (pg 88)
- But Ms Dabiri did add some humor into her story….
- “being black and Irish in Ireland
- …was to have almost unicorn status” (pg 5)
- Weak Point: I was not very interested pages 103-122
- …about A’Lelia Walker (1885 –1931)
- She was the only surviving child of Madam C. J. Walker,
- popularly credited as being the first self-made female millionaire
- …promoting hair products for African-American women.
- I skimmed this section.
- Chapter 5:
- …honestly, not interested in Shea Moisture,
- Madonna or Kim Kardashian’s cornrows.
- Strong point: chapter 6
- Ms Dabiri discusses complex geometric shapes used in braiding.
- Braiding was used also in ‘intellignce networks’.
- Hair was used a a form of mapping
- …a means of communication.
- The hairstyle was a form of signal
- …so escape could happen in blocks of slaves.
- Strong point: TITLE!!
- …Solange on Spotify “Don’t’ Touch My Hair”
- Somehow these lyrics just give expression or emotion to
- …the deep feeling of African hair.
When it’s the feelings I wear
Don’t touch my soul
When it’s the rhythm I know
They say the vision I’ve found
Don’t touch what’s there
When it’s the feelings I wear
- This book was more scholarly than I anticipated.
- Ms Dabiri has completed her PhD and her expertise is apparent.
- She uses a mixture of scholarly and popular sources.
- But Ms Dabiri has produced a very readable book about
- looking at indigenous cultures from a new perspective.
- She emphasizes the strengths of African society in divination,
- architecture design, entrepreneurship and…so interesting
- the unchanging tradition of hair braiding!
- #AbsoluteDelight to read!