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Black is beautiful

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Title: Black is beautiful  
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Subject: Beauty, List of political slogans, African-American culture, Blackness, Internalized racism
Collection: African-American Culture, Beauty
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Black is beautiful

A 1974 German "Black is beautiful" poster

Black is beautiful is a cultural movement that was started in the United States of America in the 1960s by African Americans. It later spread to much of the black world, most prominently in the writings of the Black Consciousness Movement of Steve Biko in South Africa. It aims to dispel the notion in many world cultures that black people's natural features such as skin color, facial features and hair are inherently ugly.[1] John Stewart Rock was long thought to be the first to coin the phrase "black is beautiful"–during a speech in 1858–but historical records indicate he never actually used the specific phrase on that day.[2] The movement also encouraged men and women to stop trying to eliminate African-identified traits by straightening their hair and attempting to lighten or bleach their skin.[3]

This movement began in an effort to counteract the prevailing idea in American culture that features typical of "Blacks" were less attractive or desirable than those of "Whites". Research indicates that the idea of "blackness" being ugly is highly damaging to the psyche of African Americans, manifesting itself as internalized racism.[4] This idea made its way into black communities themselves[5] and led to practices such as paper bag parties: social events which discriminated against dark-skinned African-Americans by only admitting lighter-skinned individuals.


  • Cultural influence 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Works cited 4

Cultural influence

In 1968, inspired by the slogan, the [6]

Also the name of a disc "Black is beautiful" (Windmill, 1974), which contains "the very best of recent hits and has been specially recorded by Windmill as a tribute to these great singers and their songs".

See also


  1. ^ Some notes on the BLACK CULTURAL MOVEMENT
  2. ^ The Journal of Negro History, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History,Vol.54,No. 4 (Oct., 1969)pp. 405-406
  3. ^ Jamaica Says Black Is Beautiful
  4. ^ Key Issues in Postcolonial Feminism: A Western Perspective by Chris Weedon, Cardiff University
    In her novel The Bluest Eye (1970), Toni Morrison depicts the effects of the legacy of 19th century racism for poor black people in the United States. The novel tells of how the daughter of a poor black family, Pecola Breedlove, internalizes white standards of beauty to the point where she goes mad. Her fervent wish for blue eyes comes to stand for her wish to escape the poor, unloving, racist environment in which she lives.
  5. ^ "Black is Beautiful" and the Color Preferences of Afro-American Youth - Claud Anderson, Rue L. Cromwell, The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Winter, 1977), pp. 76-88 doi:10.2307/2966874
  6. ^ Kameny, collected in Blasius and Phelan, p. 374

Works cited

  • Blasius, Marc and Shane Phelan, eds. (1997). We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook of Gay and Lesbian Politics. New York, Routledge. ISBN 0415908590.
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