Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hair Power Skin Revolution (BOOK REVIEW)



Hair Power Skin Revolution: A Collection of Poems and Personal Essays

by Black and Mixed-Race Women

Edited by Nicole Moore

Troubadour Publishing Ltd.

The New Press

Paperback, $19.95

214 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-184876-393-7


Book Review by Kam Williams


“I can honestly say I have a passion for language… I enjoy writing and editing, and I write every day… The purpose of this collection is to offer the creative expressions of 48 black and mixed-race women writers whose vices are among those defining this new era of contemporary black British literature... The writers offer empowering, encouraging and creative ways of understanding and relating to the themes of hair and skin.

The personal essay genre is more than 400 years-ld and is one of my favourite ways t express honesty, the past, expansions of the self, and much more. It certainly should be celebrated.”

-Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. xi-xiv)


                Judging by the inspirational poems and essays contained in this anthology, sisters over in England are enthusiastically embracing their natural hair and skin tones. That’s assuming these female contributors to be a representative sample of black and bi-racial Brits, as they are generally quite comfortable with how they look, as opposed to devoting a lot of time to trying to measure up to a Caucasian standard of beauty. Not that this mindset always came very easily. For Hair Power Skin Revolution is filled with plenty of heartfelt testimonials about arriving at self-liberation only after having tried a rigorous regimen of hair relaxers and/or skin lighteners.

Edited by Nicole Moore, the book is comprised of the reflections of a very gifted group of writers, each of whom has an intimate tale of enlightenment to share. For example, Patsy Antoine admits that “I hated my roots” and “despising my kink,” sadly believing “I was acceptable only if I mirrored the ‘dream’ images that left no room for tightly wound curls.” She goes on to explain that, fortunately, nine years ago, “I embraced my ‘fro” because “my hair is so much more than decorative, it is the very thing that connects me to who I am.”

                Christine Collymore talks about how, “As a child, my hair was mine but not under my control.” Consequently, her head was subjected to a host of chemicals and curly perms until, as an adult, she finally managed to undo the harmful socialization that had left her hating her natural hair. Another entry I found fascinating was that of Donna-Marie Glashen who stopped using a line of cosmetics designed for African-American women which contained bleach because it left her face blotchy.

A special treat is how Hair Power Skin Revolution also features photos of many of the authors. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, these priceless portraits serve as living proof that sisters can often be even more beautiful than ever when walking the Earth as God intended.

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