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Miss Rizos uses African and African-American hairstyles to affirm blackness in straight-hair-obsessed country
BY Kate Kilpatrick | PUBLICATION Al Jazeera America
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Carolina Contreras still feels the heat smolder beneath her cheeks whenever she recounts the time a bouncer denied her and some friends entry to a trendy Santo Domingo bar because of their hair.
“He said our hair was not appropriate for the bar,” said Contreras, her sideswept bangs tucked beneath a bouncy bouquet of black curls. “My hair is considered informal, unprofessional, ugly. It’s considered dirty.”
In a country where more than three-quarters of the population is of mixed African and European ancestry, it may surprise foreigners that curly hair — pelo rizado — could command such attention, let alone disdain. After all, the Dominican Republic ranks fifth among countries with the largest black population outside Africa, according to the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, a Berlin-based nongovernmental organization, behind Haiti, with which the D.R. shares the island of Hispaniola.
But in the Dominican Republic, straightened hair is not only big business; it defines the standard of beauty. There, Afro-textured hair is unabashedly called pelo malo, or bad hair. Dominican hair salons are renowned from Harlem to Houston for their smooth blowouts and chemical straightening treatments that coerce the most stubborn curl into submission.
2010 MISSISSIPPI CODE
TITLE 39 – LIBRARIES, ARTS, ARCHIVES AND HISTORY CHAPTER 27 – Legislative Code 39-27-1
Excerpt – (1) There is created the Mississippi Blues Commission, hereinafter referred to as the “commission”. The commission may accept and expend grants and private donations from any source, including federal, state, public and private entities, to assist it to carry out its functions. (2) For purposes of this chapter, the term “blues” shall mean African-American roots music and the culture that created it.
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