What is it Worth? Education, Expression, Economics of African American Hair

Tim Wells, History, Mallard Creek High School

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


The history of African American hair is complex and extremely layered. From certain hairstyles’ symbolic meanings to making statements through the African American hair, experience is unique. By European standards, African American hair was unkempt and displeasing. This statement had long-term implications on the perception of African American hair as well as the psychology of African Americans. Although discrimination and stereotyping followed, African American have continued to take ownership of their hair and have pushed boundaries and changed narratives. During this journey, students will ask themselves the question, what is it worth? In my curriculum unit, my students will undergo the process of deconstructing African American Hair on three different fronts; expression, economics, and education. The goal of this is to gain a full comprehension of hair, the laws, money, and historical significance. Students will have to consider different cases in regards to hair laws, look at the history and symbolism of hair, and take a deep dive into the economics of the hair industry.