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Archives for : Black Hair

#Black Hair + Books: Queens by Cunningham & Alexander

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Check out these queens and their crowning glory.

Check out these queens and their crowning glory.

Today is the last day of February, which means it’s the last day of our celebration of books about Black hair. And I’ve saved the best for last. Today’s book needs little by way of explanation, because it’s all in the title, Queens: Portraits of Black Women and their Fabulous Hair by Michael Cunningham and George Alexander. A compact coffee table book with black & white photos and accompanying essays, Queens is an ode to amazing Black women and their crowning glory. The book features women from all over the United States and abroad, from all walks of life and all ages.

In his introduction, the author, George Alexander writes, ” [Black] Hair has the ability to unleash all of life’s deepest emotions. Hair is about identity, beauty, racial pride, race politics, self-acceptance, self-expression, self-realization, class, status, fun, glamour, romance, fantasy, art, passion, joy, pain, freedom, enslavement, power.”

I couldn’t say it any better myself.

And that’s all she wrote…until next time I’m so moved to write any more about books about Black hair.

Peace + Hair Grease!

#Black Hair + Books: Hairs, Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros

Hola Meltingpot Readers,

HairsWe’re nearing the end of Black History Month, but I’ve saved this book for (almost) last. Like Monday’s offering, today’s book, Hair’s/Pelitos is a book from a Latina author who knows something about Black hair. Sandra Cisneros is known more for her adult fiction – most notably The House on Mango Street – but this book of hers is my hands down favorite.

My copy is worn and the pages are taped together, but that’s because I’ve read it to all three of my children so many times. The story is lyrically told (in English and Spanish) and is quite simple. We hear about a family who all has different textured hair. No judgement or preference is given for Carlos’ hair which is “thick and straight” or for Kiki’s hair, which is “like fur.” We just celebrate the difference and revel in the fact that this diversity of hair textures is all featured in one nuclear family. It kind of reminds me of a book I’m writing, Same Family, Different Colors. (shameless plug, but it really does.)

Same family, different hair!

Same family, different hair!


I don’t even know if this book is in print anymore, but if you come across a copy, grab it. You won’t be sorry and your kids will love you…and the book.

Peace + Hair Grease!

#Black Hair + Books: “Bad Hair Does Not Exist” in English or Spanish

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

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This is our last full week of February, which means out last full week to highlight our favorite books about Black hair. Last week I dipped into the archives to find some of my favorites from years past. This week I’m going to highlight books about Black hair written by and/or for people with Black hair who might not be Black Americans. Case in point, today’s title, “Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/ Pelo Malo No Existe!” was written – in English and Spanish – to help Latinas love their natural (aka kinky) hair.

I haven’t actually seen the book. I’ve only read about it, but it sounds like a great idea. The more images young Latinas have of seeing their curls and kinks celebrated, the better. It can only lead to greater self-acceptance and confidence. Kudos to the author, Sulma Arzu-Brown, for writing this much needed book. You can read more about the author here and support her work.

Peace + Hair Grease!

#Black Hair + Books: Afros the Book

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

It’s Friday. I owe you a book about Black hair for Black history month. But I’m tired and it’s late. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to come through for you. I’ve been covering the Black hair game for so long, all I had to do was bounce on over to my HairStoryOnline website and peruse the archives. That’s where I stumbled upon this gorgeous photo book dedicated to the most iconic Black hairstyle of them all, the Afro.

A beautiful book about a beautiful style!

A beautiful book about a beautiful style!

Instead of rewriting now what I said back in 2013 when the book came out, I’m just going to provide the link for you to go check it out on your own. I know you can do it. You can also feel free to order the book yourself from your favorite online retailer, or Amazon.

Peace and Hair Grease!

#Black Hair + Books: Sol the Super Hairo!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Super hair, super hairo!

Super hair, super hairo!

This week Ms. Meltingpot is reaching into the Meltingpot vault to find some good reads about Black hair. I wrote about Sol the Super Hairo on my Hair Story blog way back in 2013, but have yet to actually get a copy of the book in my hands. But still, I love any character who rocks an Afro like Sol and whose greatest super power is loving her natural hair.

About the book: “…[Sol the Super Hairo] animated tale is about a little girl named Sol who enthusiastically and unapologetically loves her natural hair to the fullest! She’s on a mission, to make sure that every child knows the value of their own unique natural beauty!

You can buy the book on Amazon and find out more about the author and artist who created Sol, Ishe Hollins, here.

Power to the Afro Puffs!

#Black Hair + Books: Nigerian Hairstyles by Ojeikere

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

50 years of hairstyles are captured in this beautiful book.

50 years of hairstyles are captured in this beautiful book.


For today’s book about Black hair, I’m digging into the Meltingpot archives to re-introduce the work of Nigerian photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere. Last year he published a book of black and white photographs, capturing 50 years of Nigerian hairstyles. I wrote it about here on the Meltingpot, so you can revisit that post and get lost in his stunning portraits of hair artistry.

Enjoy.

Peace + Hair Grease!

#Black Hair + Books: “Dreads”

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Beautiful book, beautiful style.

Beautiful book, beautiful style.


Did you think I’d run out of books for my “books about Black hair challenge?” Oh no, cornrow! I’m just getting started. Today’s entry is probably one of my favorite photo books, Dreads by Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano with an introduction by Alice Walker. Yes, this is a gorgeous coffee table book dedicated to the beauty and wonder of dredlocks, written and photographed by two Italian men.

I remember when this book came out in 1999 there was some shade thrown on Mastalia and Pagano, seeing as how they weren’t Black yet they were writing about Black hair. But here’s the thing, while many of the simple but lush black and white photos in this book do feature Black people and their dredlocks, there are also Japanese people, White people and Indian people among others, who also sport this ancient style. For some people their locs represent their cultural heritage, for others their dreds have religious meaning, for some it’s just a funky style. This book still makes me marvel at the beauty and versatility of hair left in its natural state. I still think dreds are kind of magical. And now I also want to do something exciting with my own locs. Maybe dip them in gold? Hmmm…

Peace + Hair Grease!

#Books+Black Hair: Madam CJ Walker Bios for Grown folks and Kids

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Madam C.J. Walker, an inspiration to young and old.

Madam C.J. Walker, an inspiration to young and old.


You can’t talk about the Black hair business and not spend significant time on the influence and genius of Madam C.J. Walker. Born Sarah Breedlove, this single mother and daughter of slaves, built a multi-million dollar empire by selling hair care products to Black men and women (mostly women). But her impact on the world wasn’t restricted to beauty salons and barber shops. Madam C.J. Walker funneled her profits into the Black community, founding community centers, professional schools, and supporting the anti-lynching movement among other causes. She was a patron of the arts and the reason that thousands of Black women in the early to mid-20th century were able to walk away from demeaning and low-paying domestic jobs and launch their own careers as stylists, saleswomen and salon owners.

Lucky for us, Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, decided to turn her considerable talents as a journalist and writer into writing a deeply researched and well-written biography of her famous relative. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker is a delicious read that delves into all the details of not just Madam Walker’s amazing life, but of the burgeoning Black beauty business as well. And for young readers who would definitely be inspired by Madam Walker’s story of self-empowerment, Bundles penned an illustrated, shorter version of Madam’s life for the Black Americans of Achievement series from Chelsea House Publishers.

Needless to say, both of these books are among my favorites and most used in my research on Madam Walker and her remarkable contributions to the Black hair industry and modern Black culture.

Peace + Hair Grease!