African American Hair

African American Hair

Black is the most common of hair colors in the world and it’s the most common color for African American hair, too. With very few exceptions, black people have black hair.

In fact, black hair is so common that anthropologists are pretty convinced that black is the original color of the hair for the species Homo sapiens. The blond hair colors that originated in Northern Europe are considered genetic mutations.

Color is no indication of texture, though, and black hair around the world comes in every texture imaginable.

African American hair has many textures, too, although most people who descended from Africa have hair that is very tightly coiled and feels soft to the touch. Hair like this is often described as kinky or nappy. Even so, it isn’t unusual to find African American hair that is only slightly wavy, loosely curled, or straight.

During the horrors of the slavery era in the United States, slaves were valued according to the color of their skins and by the texture of their hair. Part of the brutality of slavery was the insistence that people of African descent were genetically inferior to white slave owners, who were usually of European descent.

When a slave was presented for sale, his or her African American hair was said to be an indication of value. The straighter or, in rare cases, lighter the color of the hair, the less African the slave was thought to be. This assessment is nothing but racial prejudice but it persists today, even within the African American community.

Skin color was assessed on a similar basis. Slaves with lighter skin tones were thought to be less African, therefore more highly valued, than their darker skinned fellow slaves. This assessment is also false but it continues.

In Africa, where tribal lineage can be traced for many generations past, hair texture is variable. There is no one true type of hair that is African.