By
Melissa Harris Perry
updated 2/2/2013 2:17:16 AM ET 2013-02-02T07:17:16

A new book by an African American natural-hair advocate and blogger gives us a good reason to revisit one of host Melissa Harris-Perry's most popular discussions.

Melissa Harris-Perry has been on the air for nearly one year, and one of the most popular #nerdland segments broadcast in that time was about hair. The country’s recent freak-out over First Lady Michelle Obama’s bangs gives some indication to our fascination not simply with the hairstyles black people wear, but also with the deeper meaning we either lend to them or that they actively signify. We on the MHP staff certainly hear our share of feedback concerning the natural hairstyle our own host wears.

One of our guests on that Sunday in June was natural-hair blogger Nikki Walton, whose blog, Curly Nikki, has become a touchstone for knowledge about “transitioning” to and maintaining natural hairstyles. On the show, she called her site a “positive platform for women to come in a safe place,” and get the vital information that has been long been unavailable since social norms dictated that black natural hairstyles were taboo.

Walton’s new book, “Better Than Good Hair,” debuted Tuesday. From The Huffington Post:

The book, published by the Amistad division of Harper Collins, features a forward by actress Kim Wayans and includes chapters like “The Big Chop: Mama, Friends and Significant Others (How to Transition Without Losing Your Mind)” and “The Terrible Twos: Standing by Your Hair—Even When It’s Acting A Fool”—making for a funny and informative read.

We felt Walton’s new book was a perfect opportunity to revisit our black-hair discussion. See Harris-Perry’s Teachable Moment above, and the full three-part discussion below.

Video: The politics of black hair

  1. Closed captioning of: The politics of black hair

    >>> ever think we first opened the first doors of nerdland, one topic made regular and frequent appearances in the subject line of viewer e-mails. my hair. i would like to take the opportunity to answer questions about black women and hair. why tackle such a hairy topic on a political show? there are a few follicles more politicized than a woman that grow out of a black woman 's head. and we'll talk a little bit about politics later, but, first, a quick teachable moment. let's begin. a personal. used interchangeably with a relaxer is a process by which tightly coiled strands are relaxed relax ed to straighten styles. those straight styles can be achieved with a hot comb . a heated metal comb that women use to straighten hair without chemicals, it figures prominently in the childhood of many a black woman . why when a black woman refers to a kitchen, not just referring to the room where the room heated and the session where it hatted. the nape of the neck, commonly the hair most resistant. the weave. it's the addition of hair that you bought to the hair that you grew. black women get weaves for all kinds of reasons. to add length to add fullness, experiment with different looks without altering their real hair. the list goes on. remember this about weaves. they are generally two categories. synthetic hair, which is, well, synthetic, and human hair which came from an actual person. if our hair is much longer today than it was yesterday, it is safe to assume we probably got some added in. and, yes it is our hair. we paid i hfor it. not all women with long hair are wearing weaves, and no,ith not politely to ask. braided hair. when we get it braided with extensions it can take up to eight hours. for everyone who asked, that's how long it takes me to get my hair done. we don't shampoo our hair every day, yes, where he still perfectly clean. nappy is a term that we use to reclaim pride. we're happy with our nappy, just like that other "n" word, you probably shouldn't use it. if your black friend spends the night, she may wrap her hair in a silk scarf. she may decline to join you in a canonball at your pool party . water is the enemy to a black woman with a straight hair style . if you have a black boyfriend with a short fade and you want to run your fingers through his hair, rub forward, never back. never back, natural hair , means that a hair has not been treated with any chemical relaxers, and afro, small or voluminous halo of texture that floats among textured sclapz does not mean she is about to set off the revolution. nothing dreadful of dreadlocks, and not a sign that someone sells or smokes marijuana and by the way, they are locks, not dress dreds and a black woman who chemically treats her hair is not trying to be white. the best course of action is trying to understand a black woman by what's in her head, not what's on it. stick around. we'll pick through the politics of a black woman 's hair,

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