The fight of being an African American and sporting natural hair.
To make this assignment a bit more manageable, I’ve broken it up into two parts:
Part I: I am asking you to research my chosen action “Good Hair” the movie by Chris Rock and then write a brief history of that action about 2 pages would suffice. I’ll expect you to summarize what problem the action is trying to address and how the action is trying to impact that problem. I’d keep the focus on attitudes about black women’s “natural” hair and beauty. (And I’m thinking specifically here about the fact that black women are asked to live up to a standard of beauty that has been defined around whiteness, which means 1) their natural hair is seen as “bad hair” and 2) they have to spend incredible amounts of time and money if they are to live up to society’s expectations of “good hair”).
Part II: I’m also asking you to write a creative analysis of the given above action in this case “Good Hair” by Chris Rock about 3-4 pages. The analysis will draw on my semesters readings of which I will provide for you to evaluate the effectiveness of that action. That analysis will take the form of a “critical conversation” among at least three of the scholars given.
In order to provide you some structure for this analysis of my chosen action, I’ve decided not to do a typical essay. Instead, I’m asking you to convey the analysis in the form of a conversation among (at least) three of the scholar that I will once again provide below. The format of the paper will look more like a play than a traditional coursework paper, but I will still expect you to refer to specific textual evidence from the authors readings, employ “quote sandwiches,” and support your claims with clear reasoning and evidence
Questions you’ll want to address in the conversation:
What does this action get done? What does it not get done? What might it have done better? Does it serve to reinforce or to challenge social norms and institutions that perpetuate inequalities around gender and/or sexuality? Does it attend to concerns common to gender and/or sexuality scholars (e.g. does it take an intersectional approach? does it privilege the concerns of underrepresented populations? does it question the privilege of those involved)?
Here’s what that conversation might look like: (different authors that I don’t want to use but a basic example)
McIntosh: One thing I really liked about this project is that it involves the community in helping to define the problem and to design solutions. You don’t get the sense that the organizers see themselves as “saviors” swooping in to save the day. In my essay on “white privilege” I discuss the challenge of unlearning the lesson that our lives are the “norm” to which everyone else should aspire – that tendency that “when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow ‘them’ to be more like ‘us’” (148). I try to convince my readers that this assumption that our privileged positions are “morally neutral” allows us to be complicit in maintaining our social privilege (148).
Lorde: That’s interesting, and it reminds me of the argument I make in “Age, Race, Class, and Sex” about the unfair expectation we put on marginalized groups to do the work of educating their oppressors (154). When privileged groups are unable to see that privilege, then it puts an additional burden on the disadvantaged to pour their energy and labor into the work of education rather than the work of building more positive futures for everyone (154). And so, while I appreciate the organizers’ desire to involve the community in planning this action, I am concerned that they aren’t doing enough to educate themselves in the process. Aren’t they simply off-loading that work onto people who are already overburdened?
Ehrenreich: Yes, but you can’t forget the work that Susan Wendell has done on the “Social Construction of Disability”! She argues that . . .
Things to keep in mind:
The conversation needs to be informed by course texts (don’t let the “scholars” just go off on a generic conversation about gender inequality – everything needs to be grounded in the texts)
Every point or claim needs to be carefully explained and sufficiently supported with relevant textual evidence from the course texts
When you reference the text – either as a paraphrase or a direct quotation – you must cite it using parenthetical citation conventions.
Now here are the scholars and the articles that I would like you to reference when putting together this final assignment.
Audre Lorde: Age Race Class and Sex
Iris M. Young: Five Faces Of Oppression
Michael Kimmel: Human Beings an Endangered Species
With Iris Young, you might think about whether she’d see this as perpetuating or challenging systems of oppression. With Audre Lorde, you might think about how this film responds to the idea of the “mythical norm” and how the oppressed are expected to educate the oppressors. And with Michael Kimmel, his discussion of the “double bind” and how identities are “marked” might be useful to this assignment.
So, to sum up:
I’d focus on Good Hair as your action (and what you’ll research for Part I of the project)
In Part II, do not bring in other texts by the given authors — only what I’ve provided!
Also In Part II, do not bring in other voices except for your chosen authors (like above example)
Good Hair documentary by Chris Rock
Read all three text provided above by given authors.
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