Scholarly Research on Black Men and Hair

So it has been extremely important to me, as the #mom of a young Black man, to find hair #icons for him to look at and find himself reflected in the world. As the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” And my son, as a private school student in a predominantly white school, doesn’t get to see a lot of other Black people, particularly men. (His dad is bald so although he’s with him everyday, for the purposes of this hair conversation, he doesn’t really count right now.)

He has been reluctant to wear his hair loose (not in #twists or #cornrows) – until I started him on this Iconafro project. But here’s the thing, while I am able to find boatloads of pictures of men wearing afros, I find little to no scholarly research on the matter. Every article I read is about Black women’s struggles with their hair – self-acceptance, societal acceptance, hair loss, hair care, wash day rituals, styling. #Youtube videos on #Blackhair center around women but barely anything on Black men and boys. I don’t always have the time, patience (or most times ability, if I’m being honest) to do my son’s hair so, off to the #salon we go.

And the kids’ salons I take him to - they're all about the little girls. They’re pink and glittery, playing My Little Pony or Barbie cartoons so he brings his iPad, plays video games and tries hard to tune out all of the girlie stuff going on around him. But why? It’s 2021. Black boys can wear their hair long too! Why are we just ignoring an entire #demographic when they endure the same hair struggles as Black women with #naturalhair? Why have we not looked at this from a historic perspective? A scholarly perspective? These movements to normalize Afro/Black hair affect men as well as women. We should invite them to come sit with us at the table and air out what is happening in (and on) their heads.

In hours of research, I’ve found so few articles that broach anything about this subject from the male perspective so I felt it was important to link those articles here.

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