About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Book is a Toddler!

My toddler!
Happy 2nd birthday to my book, Getting Hair "Fixed": Black Power, Transvaluation, and Hair Politics! As I reflect on my 2-year-old, a historical and literary look at the various politics surrounding the afro before, during, and after the Black Power Movement, I think of transvaluation and present-day implications for the concept. Regardless of apparent trends associated with kinky, afro-textured hair these days, it's clear that transvaluation is still very much part of the picture.

As I explain in Getting Hair "Fixed," I use the term transvaluation in the same way that Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. does when he describes it as "a fundamental psychological and cultural conversion from [black people's] socialization as a subordinate people to a self-determining nation."* Indeed, Glaude provides this description in the context of freedom struggles that fomented many Black Power initiatives, and I apply this term to the embrace of afro-textured hair during the Black Power era specifically (roughly the mid 1960s to the late 1970s).

In spite of the historical contexts and current trends, I'm noticing that transvaluation does creep up in discussions surrounding natural hair and transitioning in particular. One interesting example is Zina Saro-Wiwa's insightful NY Times op-doc titled "Transition." (Sorry! There seems to be no way to embed the video!) As Saro-Wiwa explores various types of natural styles and the women who've chosen them, she herself embraces her natural texture and comes to this transvaluative conclusion:

While so many naturals I’ve met are happy to be part of a movement, almost none I encountered consider it political. They back away from any talk about "black power." I can see why a highly individuated movement characterized by joy, self-discovery and health concerns doesn’t at first appear political, but in a post-racial America, this quiet, internal shift toward self-acceptance is, to my mind, the most potent and political act of all.
It's not necessarily an in-your-face, fist-in-the-air approach that makes this growing natural hair movement political or transvaluative. For many women--not all--it is about self-acceptance, which is why it is often so life-changing. Saro-Wiwa notes that going natural changed the way she viewed her whole body, even her diet, and made an initially temporary decision (cutting off her hair) a permanent one. For the naturals out there, do you see your decision as at all transvaluative? Thanks for reading and celebrating my book's second birthday!


*You can find Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s take on this concept in his introduction to Is It Nation Time?: Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism. Ed. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002. I discuss my use of the term in Getting Hair "Fixed": Black Power, Transvaluation, and Hair Politics. Saarbr├╝cken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010. 5-6.