Without her Afro, Angela Davis went incognegro

Consider the manhunt for Angela Davis. My favorite part of that story is that at the point at which she was on the run, one of the things she did was tie her own hair down and wear a perm-styled wig over it. She was invisible to the police as long as she didn’t have her Afro. It was as though they were incapable of recognizing her features or what she actually looked like without the hair. She walked into a whole variety of spaces where she should have been caught but wasn’t. That is so indicative of how all-consuming and overpowering our hair can be in certain styles, particularly for white audiences who literally can’t see past our hair. [link]

 

I know the term incognegro usually applies to racial passing, which is not what Davis was doing here, but I decided to flagrantly misapply it in the title. It seemed to connote the invisibility of blackness in a very compact way. Without her Afro, the cops couldn’t see her, she was just another black face in the crowd.

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