No Lye, Nappy or Straight, People Still Gon’ Hate: Getting to the Root of the Issue; Colorblindness and Neutrality within Hairstyles and Hair Types

byDebra Denise Jenkins

Imagine your child being asked to sit out of a performance because of their hairstyle. No student or parent should be subjected to policies that intentionally disregards ones culture due to the style or texture of their hair. Unfortunately we live in a world where this was not an imagination but a reality. Lyzette Williams so eloquently states, “Black women’s natural hair remains political and persecuted. Writing—which, in this instance, I also conceive as narrative healing—about disquieting, mystifying, sometimes droll experiences vis-à-vis black women’s hair illuminates two conundrums: first, the absurdity of trying to enforce white haircare grooming standards on African American women; and second, the muted but invasive means by which society shames our natural hair from infancy through adulthood.” (Williams, Lyzette. "Trauma, Tresses, & Truth: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narrative.")

This curriculum unit will not be your run of the mill “culture day” celebration. Instead it will focus on teaching students the political power that a hairstyle or hair texture holds. This curriculum unit will also focus on intertwining children’s literature, art, history, and music with a focus on hairstyles and hair textures. If you are searching for a way to enhance student learning by using various forms of resources and strategies, including children’s literature, this is the perfect curriculum unit for you and your students.

This unit provides clarity on social issues dealing with hairstyles and hair types while also providing content about stances of neutrality and colorblindness in the classroom. It offers pedagogical approaches and content knowledge that challenges not only the students, but the teacher as well. If you are hoping to be an agent of change the world so desperately needs, and want to do so by instilling ideological beliefs and truths in yourself and in your students, this unit is the perfect fit.

This unit has the potential to promote self-awareness and pride in hairstyles and hair textures that sometimes have negative views or connotations. This unit will allow teachers and students to learn the history of their own hairstyles and hair types, while also seeing and learning about representations of their culture(s) in children’s literature, art, and music.

(Developed for Reading, grade 3; recommended for Reading, grade 3)

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