Tenderheaded

A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories

Edited by Juliette Harris / Introduction by Ntozake Shange
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About The Book

What could make a smart woman ignore doctor's orders?
What could get a hardworking employee fired from her job?
What could get a black woman in hot water with her white boyfriend?
In a word...
HAIR.
When does a few ounces feel like a few tons? When a doctor advises a black woman to start an exercise program and she wonders how she can do it without breaking a sweat. When an employer fires her for wearing a cultural hairstyle that's "unprofessional," and she has to go to court to plead for her job. When she's with her man, and the moment she's supposed to let loose, she stops to secure her head scarf so he doesn't disturb the 'do.
TENDERHEADED?
Yes, definitely. All black women are, in one way or another.
The issue is not only about looking good, but about feeling adequate in a society where the beauty standards are unobtainable for most women. Tenderheaded boldly throws open the closet where black women's skeletons have been threatening to burst down the door. In poems, essays, cartoons, photos, and excerpts from novels and plays, women and men speak to the meaning hair has for them, and for society. In an intimate letter, A'Leila Perry Bundles pays tribute to her great-grandmother, hair-care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker, who launched a generation of African-American businesswomen. Corporate consultant Cherilyn "Liv" Wright interviews men and women on the hilarious ways they handle "the hair issue" between the sheets. Art historian Henry John Drewal explores how hairstyles, in Yoruba culture, indicate spiritual destiny, and activist Angela Davis questions how her message of revolution got reduced to a hairstyle.
Tenderheaded is as rich and diverse as the children of the African diaspora. With works by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and other writers of passion, persuasion, and humor -- this is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (February 1, 2002)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780671047566

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Raves and Reviews

Essence Ought to be at the top of everyone's must-read list.

Boston Herald An outstanding volume!

The Washington Post Because of the variety of voices in Tenderheaded...the book has a feeling of breadth and nuance.

Heart and Soul A must-read that unravels our deep-rooted history and relationship with hair.

The Boston Herald Peter Harris' piece...is just one gem in this outstanding volume.

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) Perfectly captures black people's progress (or lack of it) on the hair issue....Valuable and enlightening to anyone who is tenderheaded in one way or another.

Black Issues Book Review It's time to get down to the nappy truth about all the pros and cons of black hair. Harris and Johnson's 'comb-bending collection' is a tell-it-like-it-is compilation of essays that give insight into what we and others think about it, the history behind our hair, and how it affects our lives.

Publishers Weekly This remarkable array of writings and images illuminates black women's hair and its cultural meaning....Beyond the variety of contributors and the provocative quotes and historical tidbits sprinkled between the entries, it's the wealth of feeling rooted in hair that makes this volume so compelling. With its (s)nappy jacket and generous helpings of art and photos, this mini-encyclopedia should attract an avid audience.

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More books from this author: Pamela Johnson