In Attire
Black Silk Durag
Black Silk Durag

Have you ever felt ignorant about your own roots? I am biracial,  African American and Puerto Rican. As someone with more than one identity, I felt as though I was not connected to both of mine equally; so I decided to learn about the origin of the durag. My ancestors on my father’s side were slaves in the south, which is why later generations of my father’s family resided in the south. This brings us to the origin of durags. They originated from head scarves that women used during slavery in order to keep their hair in order. Back then they were simply referred to as headscarves, it was not until the 1940s that  the term durag was introduced. As time passed negative stigmas were placed on durags. They were seen as symbols of gang activity or gang culture. I have seen how they are viewed change overtime. I have experienced mockery. This is important to me because it displays how an item of my culture has been twisted to fit the narrative of others that view it as inappropriate. Over the past few years I have seen many stories of schools banning durags because it is reflective of gang violence. This effects the Black community because we do not want to be seen in such a negative perspective. Rather than be discouraged by others’s negative opinions I decided to take a different route. I embrace the fact that I am able to wear something g that originated from those of the past, those that were forced to endure barbaric treatment, those that were the foundation of the country I live in. Everyday I wear a durag, I am able to carry on their traditions.

Place(s): New York

– Sharrod Benjamin

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more