(De)tangling the Business of Black Women's Hair 

Course Description: For many black women, their understanding of their race, gender, class and identity and notions of beauty are linked to hair. Divided into three sections, this course will first seek to understand the historical, structural, and economic dimensions of black women’s hair. We will cover topics such as labor, the service industry, and how the black beauty salon presents a rare opportunity for black women to become entrepreneurs. We will also discuss the multibillion dollar industry and economy founded on black women’s hair, from dreadlocks and perms, to weaves and wigs. The second part of the course will examine how the beauty salon as a place presents the opportunity for intra-racial community building and networking, with predominately Asian-owned hair supply stores and the rise of African- and Dominican-owned hair salons. Third, we will explore how black women interpret the connections between their racial and gender identity and their hair; and we will examine how the politics of hair links to notions of racial authenticity, colorism, class, and attractiveness.

(De)Tangling the Business of Black Women's Hair was listed as one of the Most Innovative Courses of the 2019/2020 Academic Year

"Business of Black Women's Hair" Workshop

In the Fall 2016, I invited several Black women business owners in th e beauty industry to visit my class. The panelists discussed their experiences of becoming an entrepreneur, how they give back to their communities, and how the hair and nail industries have changed over the years. The panelists were: Gina Hicks, Owner of GLH Nail Lacquer; Kadeian Brown , Owner of Black Girl's Divine Beauty Supply Store and Salon; and Karla Carrington, Owner of The Nail Belle.

Each student wrote on the board what comes to their mind when they think about their hair.