College of Arts and Sciences Poster Presentations


"Innocent?": Examining Constructed Racial Pride Through Beauty in Danzy Senna's Caucasia and Carolivia Herron's Nappy Hair

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dora Ramirez-Dhoore


The development of an African American child's self-esteem has always been a delicate topic. Whether it has been ignored or expounded on, the image of the Black child, especially girls, plays a vital role in the cultural and racial exchange in America. However, in the continued dialogue revolving around expressing and developing a sense of racial pride among African American girls an equally damaging force is also constructed. While it protests the dominant social standards within American society it also perpetuates and often excludes many children, simply based on physical characteristics leaving them to exist in a racial 'gray' zone. Critics, like Melissa Harris-Perry, have argued that Black stereotypes, even positive, self perpetuated ones, are harmful to Black identity. By analyzing and juxtaposing the texts Caucasia by Danzy Senna and Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron, I will illustrate the way in which the attempt to create a positive racial identity can be just as shattering for African American girls as it can be empowering.

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