B2 High-Intermediate 35 Folder Collection
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Transcriber: TED Translators admin Reviewer: Camille Martínez
You don't really look at a toothbrush and say,
"I'm great!"
But when you look at an Afro pick, which is a grooming tool,
it can remind you in your subconscious to, like,
really be proud and, like, "All right."
[Small thing.]
[Big idea.]
An Afro pick is a utilitarian tool
used to maintain the Afro hairstyle.
I think the Afro pick was designed
for the ergonomics of creating something
that felt like you were running fingers through your hair.
The shape, even the depth that it goes in -- it's like a hand.
You have plastic or nylon teeth,
and then you have the stainless steel or the nickel teeth.
I always prefer the metal tooth
just 'cause I like the sound
and the ones I know have the black power fist on the handle.
When I think of black hair in America,
I think of something that's been policed.
Back in the days, it was expected for black people
to chemically treat their hair.
Whether that's healthy for them is a secondary thing to blending in.
In the 50s, dancer Ruth Beckford and a lot of jazz singers
were tired of straightening their hair,
so they said, all right, we're going to just let it grow naturally
and started rocking natural, close-cropped hair.
And in the 60s, that style evolved
with the formation of the Afro,
which was the cropped hair, natural, picked out
into a more spherical shape.
You had civil rights leaders, activists, that adopted the hairstyle
as a means of rebellion and black pride.
And then you had musicians like James Brown,
who was infamously known for chemically straightening his hair,
reject that and go natural.
It went hand-in-hand with his music,
so he had songs like "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud."
The black is beautiful movement
is just rejecting the notion that to be black
or to have darker skin, to have a curlier grade of hair,
was something to be ashamed of.
I have one of my favorite pictures of my mother
and my grandmother,
and my grandmother had a small 'fro,
and that was in the 60s.
African hair combs date back to 3500 BCE.
The oldest African combs are found in ancient Egypt and Sudan,
so they were making pyramids and combs.
The way the ancient African combs were embellished
represented status or tribal affiliation.
It's no coincidence that the fist on the modern Afro pick
also sets the tone for affiliation
and what set you claim.
And then there's the Black Power movement.
Most movements need their icons, right?
You have the fist, you have the 'fro.
These things coincide with the Black Panther aesthetic,
where you could kind of spot your tribe from afar,
because you're not just keeping a pick in, like, your beauty kit.
It's in your back pocket,
purposely with the first outside of it,
and in your hair, you'll rock it in your 'fro.
If I think about iconic Afros,
I definitely think about Angela Davis.
Her 'fro personifies elegance, style,
freedom, rebellion.
You feel all of these feelings at once
when you see Angela Davis fighting for her life in federal court.
By the 80s, the Afro style became less radical.
The Afro picks are still produced to this day
with the clenched fist,
so it's the remnants of the movement
in the everyday object.
When I was young, it was just, like, another object.
It was a comb.
But as I became more enlightened
to really understand the roots and the origin
and the intentionality of the design
and why the fist and all of these things ...
I woke up.
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The power of the Afro pick | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series

35 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on March 26, 2020
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