BLACK IS BEAUTIFULAn in-dep! look into " movement !at proclaims !at ALL black # indeed beautiful.
Wherever There’s a Present, There’s a Past...African peoples did not come to UnitedStates believing that they were ugly or theirfeatures were inferior to Europeans. In1792, Willie Lynch proposed that slavemasters gain control through destroyingthe perspective of the enslaved Africans. Hesuggested that masters played each slaveagainst each other, wither it was skincomplexion, hair texture, or sex. Lynch’sproposal proved to be successful as it seemsto be prevalent today. With his familiaritywith divide and conquer he changed theway that blacks viewed themselves: “ there isintelligence, size, sex, size of plantations,attitude of owners, whether the slaves live inthe valley, on a hill, East, West, North,South, have fine or coarse hair, or is tall orshort.” African peoples were taught to hatethemselves only as a mechanism to instill adistrust of their own and therefore buildtrust in the slave master. Black was neverugly, it was portrayed in an ugly manner.
Black was considered to be ugly because of$%inct features !at $d not conform to "Anglo-Saxon norms. A lot of !ese beliefs%aed way back du(ng slavery, when " whiteman $vided blacks in two, " light slave and!e dark slav) *e light slaves usuallyworked inside " h,se, helping " wife of "ma%er; while " dark slaves were ,tside,working " crops. *e slave ma%er tainted ,rminds to believe !at any!ing !at was whitewas (ght and any!ing else was wrong. Sadly,%ill today !ose ways haven’t chan-d and wehave learned to accept !em.
The idea that white features were more beautiful than black features caused blacks tobecome racist against themselves. It is a known fact that some historically black sororitiesmake incoming members take the brown paper bag test. This is a test in which a womanwho is darker than a brown paper bag is prohibited from joining that sorority.
THE START OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT“Black is beautiful” is a sub-movement of the Black Power movement. Although the statementwas ﬁrst introduced in the slavery era, it did not become what it is today until the Black Powermovement in the 1960’s and 70’s. The statement aimed to destroy the popular notion thatfeatures of Africans were ugly or less than those of European descent. Before being black was“in”, many African Americans bleached their skin and straightened their hair. In that period,African Americans reclaimed their deﬁnitions of beauty and wore afros and natural hair.
The Black is Beautiful movement startedthrough John Sweat Rock, who livedduring the slavery era, who was the ﬁrstto use the term “Black is beautiful”. Thenin the 60s blacks began to emphasize thisterm again by exhibiting pride inthemselves. The Black is Beautifulmovement is tied to the civil rightsmovement and to the civil rightsmovement. It was through civil rightsmovement that blacks began to ﬁght fortheir rights and equalities in the Americansociety. It was during the civil rightsmovement that blacks began to revoltagainst the idea that white is right and isthe only way. This movement started inthe 1960s. It began with AfricanAmericans and later spread to blacksaround the world through black literatureand the black consciousness movement.
Acceptance*e objective of !# movement # to quellany m#conceptions !at a black personsnatural features (hair texture, hair leng!,skin color, eye color, etc.) are not beautiful.*e movement enc,ra-d black people to%op %raightening !eir hair, bleaching !eirskin and -.ing contacts !at were not !eirnatural eye color. *e idea !at whitefeatures are more beautiful !an blackfeatures # anti-parallel to !# movement.
Features such as dark skin was perceived to be dirty and evil, compared to white skinwhich was believed to be holy and pure. “Black” hair was considered coarse and kinky,and white hair was supposedly smooth and silky. Other misconceptions of blacks were thatwe have wide noses, big lips, big behinds and full hips. Also another misconception that wascorrected is that lighter skin isn’t and shouldn’t be considered better than darker skin.
This movement pertained tothe hair and skin of AfricanAmericans. Hair and skinwithin the black community isa sensitive topic due to apainful history of being toldthat it’s ugly. Hair and skinwere the focuses of themovement because the selfesteem problems andmisconceptions of beautywhen it pertains to those ofAfrican descent. Theseissues are relevant eventoday.
Importance in the Black Community This movement is important to theblack community because it gaveAfrican-Americans a newperspective and a new sense ofpride about their race. During thismovement blacks began to feelgood about themselves. Such astheir color, their hair, and theirover all African features. The afrobecame huge during thismovement. Many blacks began torevolt against European standards;which blends into the black powermovement; plus it simple meantblack power, not by force but byfeeling good and by being proudof one’s self.
*# movement # impoant to " black community because it teaches us, as a whole, tobe comfoable in ,r o0 skin. It also teaches " y,! who might not under%and why !eydon’t look like !eir white c,nterpas or even !eir f(ends to know !at ju% because !eylook $ﬀerent doesn’t mean !ey aren’t beautiful in !eir o0 way.
The aftermath of slavery taughtmany blacks that anything thatportrayed their African descentwas ugly. Sadly, many blacks feltthis way without realizing ourancestors were taught this in hopeof producing mentally weakslaves. By teaching them theywere ugly and inferior made theslave master’s job easier. Alsoblacks on the plantation believedthis in hopes that their childrenwould have better lives becausecurly hair and lighter skin meantthat they were related to the slavemaster. Blacks did not come toAmerica believing they were ugly;it was taught or used as survivalmechanism. Somewhere down theline the reason were lost and leftwith a distorted view of beingblack.
Who Is The Target?All black people are targeted through the movement, but especiallythose that are uncomfortable in their skin. In particular blackwomen seem to deal with physical issues of race more than blackmen. According to Essence Magazine black women spend moremoney on beauty products than any other race.
Contrary to popular belief,men and women bleachedtheir skin and straightentheir hair in hopes ofobtaining a more Europeanlook. In the previousdecades, men and womenstraightened their hair withchemicals but it womenwere the main practitionersof bleaching. They wantedto get the attention of theyoung community so thatthey could produce pridefulblacks opposed to thosethat hated themselves.
BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. is 501(c)3 non-proﬁt youthempowerment and mentoring organization established topromote the arts for young women of color, as well as toencourage dialogue and analysis of the ways women of colorare portrayed in the media.