The film (Dear White People) is partly about the black characters coming to terms with the white characters, and partly about the black characters coming to terms with each other—with the many different possible ways to identify as black.
The characters’ hair becomes a stand-in for their relationship to their identity. As the story unfolds, each character chooses to transform their hair in some way—except for Troy, who tellingly chooses to not change his hair at all. The superficiality of appearance is directly connected to our deepest notions of identity. Olivia Pope from “Scandal” has walked in and out of the White House for every episode of the show without ever revealing to its interior what her hair really looks like.
Editor’s Note: Sonia Saraiya does a good job of highlighting the big year that natural black hair had on television and films in 2014 in this year end review, I’d actual never even heard of “Dear White People” before reading this article, but I’d like to give it a look now and I think I will. It’s good to see more of natural black hair on display, I look forward to the time when it won’t be so rare that it needs its own article. More than that, I look forward to it being shown in a good light more consistently and presented as beautiful because it is. Here are my article highlights:
- Without a doubt, the defining moment for natural hair this year was Viola Davis’ character Annalise Keating taking off her wig in “How To Get Away With Murder.”
- If there’s one way 2014 introduced texture and variety to the cultural landscape, it’s in the realm of hair.
- Olivia Pope from “Scandal” finally showed off her natural hair in the fourth-season premiere.