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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.

Transcriber: TED Translators admin Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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The power of the Afro pick | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/26
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