Hair Note

Hair Note:
Angelica Owens
by Tamira Bell


​Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.

In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Through a series of field notes, Tamira Bell is sharing the stories of her peers' African American hairstyles and history.


What’s the newest trend in Philadelphia? Well for the African American community, wearing their hair in its natural state has certainly become current style. Back in the 70’s, African Americans would sport their puffy afros, curls, kinks, and locs. However the society viewed African American hair as wild, dry, untamed, and unattractive. So they strayed away from embracing their natural tresses and began to ‘relax’ their hair with harsh chemicals, perms, excessive heat, and etc. This really caused damage to African American hair and even a lack of knowledge of their identity. They were chemically altering the texture of their hair because they thought that their hair was not beautiful. So they were embarrassed about their identity and did not even know what their natural hair texture was like. Now African Americans are starting to go back to wearing their hair naturally because they want their hair to be healthy and they can style their hair in various ways.

Angelica Owens, a Northeast Philadelphia native, loves that her natural hair makes her different. She loves to sport wash n go’s, afros, and high buns. She says that she loves to flaunt her natural hair because it makes her look different from other people. Not every African American has the boldness to wear their hair that way, so she is happy that she has that confidence. Angelica also says that her hair shows her ancestry because she wears her hair in the natural state that her ancestors in Africa wore.

Angelica finds that more people are starting to wear their hair naturally. She said that while riding public transportation and at school, she is starting to see more and more people wear their hair in its natural state. About 2-3 years ago, natural hair was a rare sighting. Angelica hopes that more African Americans realize that their natural hair is beautiful and began to embrace it.


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