Practice of hair straightening in the Black Community

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The concept of self-representation is an integral part of the African American struggle for liberation. Malcolm speaks of his "conk" with such contempt because of the politicization of hair within the Black community. To Malcolm, (and a number of other Black nationalists) straightening the natural curl out of one's hair symbolizes distaste for Blackness. Indeed, to chemically alter one's hair from its natural (kinky, curly = Black) state is essentially embracing the white standard of beauty at the sake of a more appropriate Afro-centric standard.This phenomenon can explain the prevalence of the Afro during the height of the Black power movement. The renewed interest in Black history and culture brought about a concomitant revolution in the Black standard of beauty. Natural hair became en vogue because of its political statement: "I'm Black and I'm proud."Rooks asserts that "the issue of beauty standards and of their effects on African Americans was an integral part of nineteenth-century "Black Pride" discourses that linked "beauty" to a call for the production of imagery that would combat the damaging representations in dominant culture (35)."