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About The Book

In this “outstanding volume” (Boston Herald) that “ought to be at the top of everyone’s must-read list” (Essence), Black women and men evocatively explore 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.

In a society where beauty standards can be difficult if not downright unobtainable for many Black women, the issue of hair is a major one. Now, in this evocative and fascinating collection of essays, poems, excerpts, and more, Tenderheaded speaks to the personal, political, and cultural meaning of Black hair.

From A’​Leila Perry Bundles, the great-granddaughter of hair care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker celebrating her ancestor’s legacy, to an art historian exploring the moving ways in which Black hair has been used to express Yoruba spirituality, to renowned activist Angela Davis questioning 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 from authors including Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and more, this “remarkable array of writings and images” (Publishers Weekly) will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 23, 2001)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743419482

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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' 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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