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12 Sep

The Tignon Laws Set The Precedent For The Appropriation

Brad Wilson/Getty Images

Black hair has all the time been a subject of conversation and fascination on the planet.

As of present, we are able to find conversations about what’s and what isn’t cultural appropriation by the use of hair (aka Kim Kardashian and her “Bo Derek” braids) or current cases playing out in court about what’s and what isn’t discrimination based on a hairstyle. Black hair has all the time been a subject of conversation. 

Most Black women can relate to the struggle of getting braids or weave and having unwanted comments from non-black co-workers. Even young Black girls are subject to ridicule due to their hairstyles. The Tignon Laws of 1786 are proof that Black hair has all the time been policed in America. 

Passed during a time where creole, mulatto, and girls of African descent would adorn their textured hair with gems, beads, and other accents that made them stand out from white women, these laws were designed to control our hair. During this era, it’s believed that white men found themselves increasingly interested in the exotic looks of girls of color, which enraged white women.

In an effort to quell the problem Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro of Louisiana proclaimed that girls of color must cover their hair with a knotted headdress and refrain from adorning it with jewels when out in public. The hope was to calm white men’s desires while also being a category signifier. 

After all being the resilient people we’re, Black women turned travesty into triumph. Soon, the tignons became a significant fashion statement they usually adorned their wraps despite the laws meant to strip their creativity and culture.

Using ribbons, brooches, beads, and probably the most luxurious of materials Black women found a way for his or her culture and spirit to push through. Legally, nothing may very well be done concerning the adoring of the tignons, as they weren’t breaking the law since the law only applied to their hair. The results of the Tignon Laws are still seen today, because it continues to be commonplace for Black women to wear elaborate headwraps and headdresses.

While we is probably not any blatant laws that prohibit black women from wearing their hair any certain way in public, we do still face the microaggressions that come from appropriation and misconceptions about Black hair. Have you ever ever heard of the Tignon Laws? 

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