by Juliette Harris, Pamela Johnson (Editor), Ntozake Shange (Illustrator)
What could make a smart woman ignore doctor's orders?
What could get a hardworking employee fired from her job?
What could get a black woman in hot water with her white boyfriend?
In a word...
When does a few ounces feel like a few tons? When a doctor advises a black woman to start an exercise program and she wonders how she can do it without breaking a sweat. When an employer fires her for wearing a cultural hairstyle that's "unprofessional," and she has to go to court to plead for her job. When she's with her man, and the moment she's supposed to let loose, she stops to secure her head scarf so he doesn't disturb the 'do. TENDERHEADED? Yes, definitely. All black women are, in one way or another.
The issue is not only about looking good, but about feeling adequate in a society where the beauty standards are unobtainable for most women. Tenderheaded boldly throws open the closet where black women's skeletons have been threatening to burst down the door. In poems, essays, cartoons, photos, and excerpts from novels and plays, women and men speak to the meaning hair has for them, and for society. In an intimate letter, A'Leila Perry Bundles pays tribute to her great-grandmother, hair-care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker, who launched a generation of African-American businesswomen. Corporate consultant Cherilyn "Liv" Wright interviews men and women on the hilarious ways they handle "the hair issue" between the sheets. Art historian Henry John Drewal explores how hairstyles, in Yoruba culture, indicate spiritual destiny, and activist Angela Davis questions how her message of revolution got reduced to a hairstyle. Tenderheaded is as rich and diverse as the children of the African diaspora. With works by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and other writers of passion, persuasion, and humor -- this is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.
Essence - Patrick Henry Bass
In Tenderheaded, Pamela Johnson and Juliette Harris masterfully capture black women's quest for peace with their hair. The authors have gathered a cavalcade of literary stars and promising newcomers who share stories on a range of Black-hair topics, from the origins of Aunt Jemima to the politics of wearing natural hair in corporate cultures.
Juliette Harris (right) is the editor of International Review of African-American Art, published by Hampton University Museum in Virginia. She has also written award-winning television and film documentaries.
Paperback: 320 pages