Head Wraps: from enslavement to emancipation

Head wraps haven't always been a fashion statement or a way to hide a bad hair day. During 18th and 19th century in America, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
Those were the years of the American Revolution (1775-1783), when the status of slave was institutionalised as a racial cast. It was given not only to Africans, but also to all those people with African ancestors.
Those were the years where head wraps became a sign of poverty and deprivation. But at the same time, from a different point of view, head wraps started to become a sign of empowerment and self distinction.
Here is a chunk of an article from www.psb.org:
"Originally the head-wrap, or turban, was worn by both enslaved men and women. In time, however, it became almost exclusively a female accessory.
For their white European masters, the slaves' head-wraps were signs of poverty and subordination. Accounts of clothing distribution show that masters sometimes allotted extra handkerchiefs to their female slaves, ostensibly to be used as head coverings. In fact, in certain areas of the South, legislation appeared that required black women to wear their hair bound up in this manner.
The head-wrap, however, was more than a badge of enslavement imposed on female slaves by their owners. Embellishment of the head and hair was a central component of dress in various parts of Africa, particularly in West Africa. From the time European fabrics were made available to them, African women wore head-wraps similar to those worn by their enslaved counterparts in America. For these women, the wrap, which varied in form from region to region, signified communal identity. At the same time, the particular appearance of an individual head-wrap was an expression of personal identity.
In America, the head-wrap was a utilitarian item, which kept the slave's hair protected from the elements in which she worked and helped to curb the spread of lice. Yet, as in Africa, the head-wrap also created community -- as an item shared by female slaves -- and individuality, as a thing unique to the wearer.
The head-wrap was an object of oppression from one vantage point. But from the other, the perspective of the slave community, it was a vehicle of empowerment and a memento of freedom."
At OliveAnkara, we want to start from this point, from head wraps as sign of empowerment, of emancipation, not only for women of colour, but for women of all colours.
We strongly believe in head wraps as statements, as ways to stand out while being be part of a community, where women of all races, colours and all religions affirm their unique individuality.
This is the vision of OliveAnkara, to see women of all colours wearing a piece of Africa and make it their own.

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