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Twisted : The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture
Harper Perennial

Twisted : The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture

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Author(s): Emma Dabiri

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

Stamped from the Beginning meets You Can't Touch My Hair in this timely and resonant essay collection from Guardian contributor and prominent BBC race correspondent Emma Dabiri, exploring the ways in which black hair has been appropriated and stigmatized throughout history, with ruminations on body politics, race, pop culture, and Dabiri’s own journey to loving her hair.

Emma Dabiri can tell you the first time she chemically straightened her hair. She can describe the smell, the atmosphere of the salon, and her mix of emotions when she saw her normally kinky tresses fall down her shoulders. For as long as Emma can remember, her hair has been a source of insecurity, shame, and—from strangers and family alike—discrimination. And she is not alone.

Despite increasingly liberal world views, black hair continues to be erased, appropriated, and stigmatized to the point of taboo. Through her personal and historical journey, Dabiri gleans insights into the way racism is coded in society’s perception of black hair—and how it is often used as an avenue for discrimination. Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into today's Natural Hair Movement, exploring everything from women's solidarity and friendship, to the criminalization of dreadlocks, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian's braids.

Through the lens of hair texture, Dabiri leads us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism—and her own personal journey of self-love and finally, acceptance.

Deeply researched and powerfully resonant, Twisted proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.


“Oh, how I wish Twisted existed when I was growing. This book is a must read and more importantly, one that must be taught in schools. Emma Dabiri, a well-researched and talented writer, takes the seemingly insurmountable task of contextualizing the contributions, trials, complexities and beauty of the black hair experience in way that not only allows you to see the world more clearly, but leaves you with a hunger to learn more. And that, in my estimation, is one of greatest powers of literature. Cannot wait to see what Dabiri writes next."  
“Poignant and thoroughly researched.”
“Compelling and engrossing…. A deft geopolitical and economic meditation....Dabiri blends thorough research with incisive commentary and artful memoir...sure to become the definitive book on the politics, culture, and economics of black hair.”
“A complex, layered, and full history of Black hair… Dabiri carefully deconstructs this history without pathologizing the Black hair experience.”
“Engaging and enlightening… Dabiri introduces readers to the rich, complex cultures and politics of black hair in locations around the world.”
“A lively and wide-ranging essay collection… Dabiri explores both her personal story and the larger history with a fierce sense of purpose and an appealing eclecticism.”
“Written in a style that will both challenge readers and create the sense of joining in a confiding conversation with a friend, Twisted provides a new perspective on a complexly resonant topic.”
“A triumph! Refreshingly accessible, enlightening and thorough ... an impeccably researched journey into our Black Hair and the ideas and feelings that have surrounded it, to this day.”
“Emma Dabiri has written a fantastically interesting and original book which explores black hair through the prism of history, culture, feminism, and philosophy.”
“Both a richly researched cultural history and a voyage to empowerment.”

ISBN:  9780062966728