A Story to Uplift


Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Penguin Random House LLC, New York, May 14, 2019

As U.S. cities erupted in protest over the death of George Floyd, educators from across the country sought myriad ways to diversify curricula and amplify Black voices in an effort to affirm the identity of Black children within predominantly white institutions. Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, is a heartwarming story exploring the many hair styles and textures worn by the main character, Zuri. From twists to braids, Afro puffs to curls, Zuri’s identity is honored and celebrated. For the Black community, hair is an expression of who we are. Representation matters and the normalizing of Black hair is essential to providing an affirming experience for children to see themselves reflected in the stories we uplift. Historically, Black hair has been the subject of policing and harsh disciplinary actions, harkening back to decades of systemic racism, that work to further marginalize Black children in schools. With the recent passing of the CROWN Act in 2019, the fight to end hair discrimination persists. Hair Love is an entry point to the beauty and resilience of Black identity, echoing the journey of self-love, acceptance, and pride as told through the story of our hair.

Submitted By: Ralinda Watts, EdM candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College Columbia University, New York, NY.

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