I just discovered the blog Treat by the talented designer, Derilyn Chambers. Treat has a thoughtful mix of visual and intellectual inspiration, plus some cultural critique for good measure. The blog's on going coverage of the natural hair movement among African American women, particularly through the arts has been both educational and incredibly heartening to me.
Several years ago I remember basically accosting a women in the grocery store who had this gorgeous afro. I had to tell her how beautiful I thought her hair was (which is pretty strange when you consider that I'm enormously shy; and was even more so then). But her hair was AMAZING. And she wore it so confidently. I had no idea then about the million dollar industry that markets straighteners to African American women, didn't know about women suffering hair loss and scalp burns from the chemicals, didn't think about how that those straightening products were the outcome of a society that forces folks to look more white in order to get ahead....
Since then I learned about the artwork of Ellen Gallagher offering a critique of those pressures. And now, through Treat, I'm finding all sorts of evidence pointing to the embrace of natural hair in our culture.
The Sesame Street video has made huge waves, and this interview with the writer on CNN shares the interesting and heartwarming back story of the song's origins.
I love hearing about ways our culture is actually getting better; waking up and appreciating (instead of stifling) the many forms of beauty within it. And I love the artists who can show us what is truly beautiful.