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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Black women spend a lifetime trying to "control" and "straighten" the naps.  If they were not

"blessed" with "good hair,"  they had to get as close to the "good stuff" as possible. 



 Books by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Uncrowned Queens:  African American Community Builders  /  Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire  (Book II)  / Go, Tell Michelle

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Nappy Headed Women

A Response to Don Imus' Verbal Attack

on Rutgers Black Female Athletes

By Peggy Brooks-Bertram 



I learned about being "nappy headed" when I was born.  I still have nappy hair.  I have never worn extensions, never dyed my hair and never had a perm.  I am a nappy headed woman to the grave.  This is further endorsed by the fact that I lost most of my hair in my teens from genetics and have worn beautiful headwraps and wigs most of my adult life.  I wear lovely wigs that I structure/reconstruct to suit my face. 

A few years ago I shaved my head and went completely bald for about 5 years.  That drove most people crazy, especially black women in the church.  Then I started wearing wigs again because my head got cold in air conditioning.  And the saga goes on.  But the gist of the "nappy" headed concept is that its roots are in the enslavement of black people and the subsequent enslavement of their psyche about their natural essence: permanent "naps."  Whites had to enslave our people entirely, and so thoroughly that they had to attack the very roots as they left the scalp. 

Black women spend a lifetime trying to "control" and "straighten" the naps.  If they were not "blessed" with "good hair,"  they had to get as close to the "good stuff" as possible.  Beginning in childhood, they faced the sometimes "red hot" comb; scabbed up ears; hot combs falling down their backs and later potential cancer causing chemicals all in the name of "busting the naps."  Today, young black girls learn that to be socially acceptable, first among other black people, you must "bust the naps."  You do that today by starting early to poison oneself with "permanents" that again attack the psyche at the "root" trying to tame that African heritage at the source: "the root."  

Finally, after years of "keeping the hair from going back--to the root" Black women walk around with a muddy colored dead protein that is lifeless, brittle, and downright ugly.  And, all in the name of having the "good stuff."   This is what white America requires if you are going to hang out with them.  Hollywood sets the example.  Black women in the arts with waist length, blond hair glued to the head.  Where?  At the root!  There is no end to this madness.  Black women, in the main,not everyone is so crazyhave been driven crazy.  They are also driving their young children crazy about taming the "naps." 

Black girls do not want to go swimming in school because their hair will "go back"  Where?  To the root.  You have to destroy the root if you want to be accepted.  Ironically, it appeared that all of the black women on the basketball team, were pretty skilled in "busting their naps."  I did not see any real "naps" anywhere.  They had all been busted even before the press conference where they all had their naps under "social control."  So what about Don Imus?  He did not know what the heck he was stepping intonot to mention he is racist and is paid well to be so.

Peggy Brooks-Bertram is a playwright, poet, and dramatist. Her creative writing includes five children’s books entitled, African On My Stairs. Illustrations from this series hang in the Rev. Bennett W. Smith Family Life Center at St. John Baptist Church. In 1988, her play, Dynasties of Kush, was selected to be included in the University at Buffalo, First International Women's Playwright Conference.  It was enacted at the Langston Hughes Institute. Brooks-Bertram Bio

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Editorial Response

I'm still plowing through Theodore White's Introduction to the Invention of the White Race. After disposing of  the psycho-cultural thesis of Winthrop D. Jordan's  in White over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (1968) and Carl N. Degler's in Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (1971) that essentially whites are naturally racist, he takes up the socio-economic proponents. He considers Lerone Bennett solid with regard to the source and the use of "race" and "racism" in America.

Of Bennett's theses, White writes:

Of all the historians of the 'social' side of the question, only the African-American historian Lerone Bennett Jr. succeeds in placing the argument on the three essential bearing points  from which it cannot be toppled. First, that racial slavery constituted a ruling-class response to a problem of labor solidarity. Second, that a system of racial privileges for the propertyless 'whites' was deliberately instituted in order to align them on the side of the plantation bourgeoise against the African-American bond-laborers. Third, that the consequence was not only ruinous to the interests of the African Americans, but was 'disastrous' for the propertyless 'whites' as well (21).

So my point again our thrust should not be merely against stooges like Don Imus, but rather against those corporate interests (21st century plantation owners) who make use of such "newsmen" and "commentators" as Imus and Bret Hume and that ilk to keep us stirred up against one another, comfortable blacks against poor blacks, women against all men, and middle-class and poor whites against us all. We must do our best, all of us, to uncover the scheme of the social control game that is played against all of us. While the wealthy escape with the loot, we all suffer, civility goes down the tube, work and prosperity and solidarity evaporate.

Of course, we as blacks have special work to do. For it is we who must carry the horse of racism on our backs, primarily, however runious the social control race game is to our fellow Americans. In this regard, Dr. Bertram's comments are a positive statement on this entire affair. I encourage you to pass it along. Note too in her piece that her emphasis is on the social control uses of anti-black racism, that is, of keeping Negroes in their place and keeping the laboring classes at each others throats.

I also encourage people to check out what she is doing with her website Uncrowned Queens Check out to the files we have here on ChickenBonesPeggy Brooks-Bertram  Barbara Ann Seals Nevergold  Uncrowned Queens Project  Uncrowned Queens: African American Women (The Book) Rudy 

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Uncrowned Queens Institute series

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 1  African American Women Community Builders of Western New York
Peggy Brooks-Bertram - Author and editor
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold - Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 2  African American Women Community Builders of Western New York
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold - Author and editor
Peggy Brooks-Bertram - Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 3  African American Women Community Builders of Western New York
Peggy Brooks-Bertram - Author and editor
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold - Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 4  Afrrican American Women Community Builders of Oklahoma
Barbara A. Seals Nevergold - Author and editor
Peggy Brooks-Bertram - Author and editor

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire  Origin of the Civilization from the Cushites
Drusilla Dunjee Houston - Author
Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Editor

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Uncrowned Queens:  African American Women 

Community Builders of Western New York, Volume I 

Written and Edited by

 Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Dr. P.H., Ph.D. and Barbara Seals Nevergold, Ph.D. 

Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Book Review

Drusilla Dunjee-Houston's

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II

Edited and Introduction by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Origin of Civilization from the Cushites Unearthed!! (Review)

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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

"Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin

By John D'Emilio

Bayard Rustin is one of the most important figures in the history of the American civil rights movement. Before Martin Luther King, before Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin was working to bring the cause to the forefront of America's consciousness. A teacher to King, an international apostle of peace, and the organizer of the famous 1963 March on Washington, he brought Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence to America and helped launch the civil rights movement. Nonetheless, Rustin has been largely erased by history, in part because he was an African American homosexual. Acclaimed historian John D'Emilio tells the full and remarkable story of Rustin's intertwined lives: his pioneering and public person and his oblique and stigmatized private self.

It was in the tumultuous 1930s that Bayard Rustin came of age, getting his first lessons in politics through the Communist Party and the unrest of the Great Depression.

A Quaker and a radical pacifist, he went to prison for refusing to serve in World War II, only to suffer a sexual scandal. His mentor, the great pacifist A. J. Muste, wrote to him, "You were capable of making the 'mistake' of thinking that you could be the leader in a the same time that you were a weakling in an extreme degree and engaged in practices for which there was no justification."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 10 April 2007 




Home  Uncrowned Queens Project Table

Related files: Nappy Headed Women   Generosity of Asa Hilliard  Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushite Empire, Book II  Minstrelsy and White Expectations

 Peggy Brooks-Bertram  Barbara Ann Seals Nevergold    Uncrowned Queens: African American Women

 Monkeys and Stimulus Bills   Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African-Americans   Nappy Headed Women   Something Out of Kilter  Obamas as Terrorists