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Black Power: It’s Hair, But Not Only It

As we know, throughout history, the black population has been constantly neglected by society. With the legacy of slavery, black people were tempted to erase and stifle their culture, and forced to live without their own identity. However, during the 1960s in the United States, afro began to gain more space in society through social movements for civil rights.

This way, the Black Power movement fought for racial pride breaking the eurocentric standards imposed. The slogan “Black is Beautiful” that recently emerged demonstrates this awakening of the pride of afro culture and its origins. Therefore, black power hair has a strong and deep root in the anti-racist struggle, being a symbol of endurance. Get to know more about it in the words of girls who live this fight daily.

Importance of black power for black women

Black power means more than just a hair style, it is related to identity, politics, and self-affirmation as a black woman. “My hair means deconstruction and acceptance without a doubt” according to Ariadne Alencar, actress in the company “Eu conto ou vocês contam?”.

Five Women Laughing
Photo by Nappy from Pexels

Ariadne says that she spent much of her childhood and adolescence without even recognizing herself as a black woman, that’s why passing through hair transition was really important to her. “When I was about 9 years old I straightened my hair, and when I was 15 to 16 I started to make my hair transition. This was a very important milestone in my life, because it was from there that I started to learn more about the history of my ancestors. I came to understand my place in the world, and only then I realized the need to embrace my black, not to hide my origins, to be proud of who I am and of my traits”, she states.

In this same reasoning, in a conversation with Her Campus Casper Libero, three members of the group “Meninas Black Power” – Jaciana Melquiades, Tainá Almeida and Jessyca Martinelli – explained that their hair has a direct connection with their self-knowledge and constitution as black women. “I am part of this collective, but more than this: here, I got to know the stories that intersected with mine, a similar experience. So, my hair today is much more political, self-affirming and resistant than just aesthetic”, said Jaciana.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Black power can also be a way to connect with the ancestors that fought for the rights of black people living. According to the digital influencer Luciellen Assis, whenever she sees herself with her natural hair, she has the idea of how many ancestors fought and took care of their hair for the right of its existence. “Going back to using natural hair is a way to reaffirm our aesthetics and rescue something that was taken away. So, for me particularly it is very liberating and a way to restore our culture”, she affirms.

Racism and black power

As we can see, racism is an issue in our society and when it comes to hair it can hurt and fray self confidences. According to Jaciana, wearing the black power is resistance. “We are talking about hair, but we are talking about how racism is promoted and propagated by western culture, which makes something simple, which is hair, be seen as dirty, ugly, wrong, that needs to be fixed. The idea of ​​us working with hair has to do with us starting to talk about a very simple subject, but that has very deep and serious roots. So that is it, hair helps us to get to very deep things and promotes self-knowledge in a very cool way”, she points out.

black women smiling and hugging
Photo by Rodnae productions from Pexels

Black power can lead people to dive into their roots. “We hear a lot that black hair is resistant, but for me it is also beautiful. Today, I can look in the mirror and recognize myself and find my hair beautiful. I usually say that the hair transition is a reunion between you and yourself”, says Ariadne.

And she finishes: “When I accepted my hair, I discovered that I am not a descendant of slaves: I am actually a descendant of kings, queens, a people with a culture so rich… And when I accept my hair, I put on my crown, I understand this symbol and the need to just be me and walk around. My hair is the agent of all that. It is more than a hair, it is an identity”.


The article above was edited by Helena Cardoso.

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Isadora Costa

Casper Libero '24

Journalism student passionate about any form of art. Anything is good for the plot.
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