The Paper Bag Principle

The Paper Bag Principle

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The Paper Bag Principle: Class, Colorism, and Rumor in the Case of Black Washington, D.C. considers the function of oral history in shaping community dynamics among African American residents of the nationa€™s capitol. The only attempt to document rumor and legends relating to complexion in black communities, The Paper Bag Principle looks at the divide that has existed between the black elite and the black a€œfolk.a€ While a few studies have dealt with complexion consciousness in black communities, there has, to date, been no study that has catalogued how the belief systems of members of a black community have influenced the shaping of its institutions, organizations, and neighborhoods. Audrey Kerr examines how these folk beliefsa€”exemplified by the infamous a€œpaper bag testsa€a€”inform color discrimination intraracially. Kerr argues that proximity to whiteness (in hue) and wealth have helped create two black Washingtons and that the black community, at various times in history, replicated a€œJim Crowisma€ internally to create some standard of exceptionalism in education and social organization. Kerr further contends that within the nomenclature of African Americans, folklore represents a complex negotiation of racism written in ritual, legend, myth, folk poetry, and folk song that captures a€œboundary buildinga€ within African American communities. The Paper Bag Principle focuses on three objectives: to record lore related to the a€œpaper bag principlea€ (the set of attitudes that granted blacks with light skin higher status in black communities); to investigate the impact that this a€œprinciplea€ has had on the development of black community consciousness; and to link this material to power that results from proximity to whiteness. The Paper Bag Principle is sure to appeal to scholars and historians interested in African American studies, cultural studies, oral history, folklore, and ethnic and urban studies.some have found that placing an eela#39;s skin around the hair will make it grow, others try to save falling hair by rubbing lemon slices ... Massage your hands at night with a mixture of lemon juice and glycerine, and wear old gloves and you will be surprised ... Advertisements for straightening products claimed to aquot;make kinky, snarly, ugly, surly hair become soft, silky, smooth, straight, long and easily handled.

Title:The Paper Bag Principle
Author:Audrey Elisa Kerr
Publisher:Univ. of Tennessee Press - 2006


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