Othering – Black Hair

 

“Othering is a strategy that reinforces the mainstream by differentiating individuals and groups and relegating them to the margins according to a range of socially constructed categories.” – (Ouellette & Gray 190)

As I am focusing on Black hair for my blog post and discussion leading this week, I feel that “othering” is the best keyword to apply to this topic. When Black hair is discussed in media, or society in general, it is typically discussed or viewed as the “other” in comparison to a European beauty standard, or not discussed at all. Specifically, in regards to non-black people, specifically white, touching Black people’s hair perpetuates this otherness. This is the premise of which the Hair Nah game by Momo Pixel was based on. Black people, especially Black women, are constantly implied to represent the “other” when people try to touch our hair or ask to touch our hair. Momo Pixel created a game for Black women who have “undergone the uncomfortable experience of having someone rush to stroke their textured tresses, without permission” (Payne, “Momo Pixel ‘Hair Nah’ Video Game Interview”).

For my blog post, I included clips from three different videos, all of Black women discussing Black hair in some way. The first video is of a YouTuber ranting about people trying to touch her hair. The second video is of women in entertainment discussing their personal hair experiences over the years. The third video is the evolution of Black hair over a span of 100 years. I also included a picture of an arm reaching into a Black woman’s hair to use with my quote, as it displays the idea of “othering” and the uncomfortability it can bring to Black people, specifically Black women. At the end, with the last video, I muted the audio from the video and used audio from Solange Knowles’ song “Don’t Touch My Hair” which has become a very important song for the Black community, as well as other people of color.

 

Additional Media:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGcFBNDrluE

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does the desire of people to touch Black hair contribute to the “othering” of not only Black hair, but also Black people?
  2. What are the implications of non-Black people doing “Black” hairstyles? Should these hairstyles be considered cultural appropriation?
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