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Conk- The fake equalizer

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  1. Introduction
  2. Motivation behind the African American's obsession with becoming beautiful in white terms
  3. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  4. The bourgeoisie of black society
  5. The conk style of hair
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

African Americans from the 1920's through the 1960's wore a style of hair known as a conk. The conk was is most notable for making the normally kinky hair of the wearer become as straight and smooth as white people's hair. By being black and by logically having black features unique to African Americans, it made a human being somehow inferior to that of white people who had features unique to European Americans. As argued by Paul C. Taylor, ?The most prominent type of racialized ranking represents blackness as a condition to be despised, and most tokens of this type extend this attitude to cover the physical features that are central to the ascription of black identity? (Taylor, 1999). The conk was one method of equalizing the boundaries between the two societies, or so thought, consciously or unconsciously, many blacks living during these times. The conk was a symbol of African Americans trying desperately to fit into a white dominated society that did not accept them, by physically changing themselves.

[...] The bourgeoisie were nothing more than stuck up members of black society who felt that if they could pretend they were white, by living and working in white society, and then maybe they could actually become part and be accepted by the white society they so desperately wanted to become a part. The bourgeoisie of the Roxbury Hill section considered themselves superior to the rest of the blacks living in Roxbury's ghetto. If they had lived in the hill, had some education, were teachers, nurses, or preachers, or worked downtown with a self-proclaimed impressive job title than they were elite in their own eyes, and made sure to strut around and give off an aura of importance. [...]


[...] But I don't see how on earth a black woman with any race pride could walk down the street with any black man wearing a conk- the emblem of his shame that he is black? (Malcolm 1964). A black man with a conk, according to Malcolm wore his hair in this style, not because he thought he would look more stylish, clearly seen by the fact that most women do not actually care about the style of the man's hair, but as a method to get away from being black. [...]

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