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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110219

‘If Your Hair Is Relaxed, White People Are Relaxed. If Your Hair Is Nappy, They’re Not Happy’: Black Hair as a Site of ‘Post-Racial’ Social Control in English Schools

1
Sociology, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
2
Sociology and Criminology, University of Salford, Salford M6 6PU, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 18 October 2018 / Accepted: 28 October 2018 / Published: 1 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race/Ethnicity, Crime and Social Control)
Full-Text   |   PDF [312 KB, uploaded 15 November 2018]

Abstract

A growing body of literature examines how social control is embedded within, and enacted through, key social institutions generally, and how it impacts disproportionately upon racially minoritised people specifically. Despite this, little attention has been given to the minutiae of these forms of social control. Centring Black hair as a site of social control, and using a contemporary case study to illustrate, this article argues that it is through such forms of routine discipline that conditions of white supremacy are maintained and perpetuated. Whilst our entry into a ‘post-racial’ epoch means school policies are generally thought of as race-neutral or ‘colorblind’, we draw attention to how they (re)produce and normalise surface-level manifestations of anti-Blackness. Situating Black hair as a form of ‘racial symbolism’ and showing Black hairstyles to be significant to Black youth, we show that the governance of hair is not neutral but instead, acts as a form of social control that valorises whiteness and pathologises Blackness. View Full-Text
Keywords: black hair; colour-blind racism; education; ‘post-racial’; racial symbolism; social control; white supremacy black hair; colour-blind racism; education; ‘post-racial’; racial symbolism; social control; white supremacy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Joseph-Salisbury, R.; Connelly, L. ‘If Your Hair Is Relaxed, White People Are Relaxed. If Your Hair Is Nappy, They’re Not Happy’: Black Hair as a Site of ‘Post-Racial’ Social Control in English Schools. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 219.

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