What do the Durags symbolize?

From symbol of oppression to fashion accessory! ✊🏾

Since its appearance, the symbolism associated with the durag has not stopped evolving. Initially very negative, it has gradually improved to the point where today, this piece of fabric is worn with great pride.

Here is a small review of what the durag has symbolized in the past years!

The durag as a sign of oppression

The least we can say is that its first symbolism was not very positive... 😞

History indeed dates its appearance to a rather painful time for black people: that of 19th century slavery in the United States. Although its origins are quite unclear (clothing custom imported from Africa which the whites used?) the durag is at that time a real sign of oppression.

Slave owners did not hesitate to impose its wearing on all black slave women in order to emphasize their inferior status and to show to everyone that they were mere workers. The will to hide their dazzling hair is not a coincidence: this piece of cloth to be worn permanently on the head allowed to hide one of the undeniable assets of their beauty.

Their status as women was almost taken away from them... 😡

Durag as an object of stigmatization

The reappropriation of durag by the black community did not immediately provide a better aura! ✨

Throughout the 20th century, this piece of cloth is entitled to a renaissance. In addition to being very useful in everyday life as a hair accessory, it also becomes an emblem of African-American identity. It is more and more worn outside, especially in demonstrations as a symbol of emancipation and affirmation.

However, the racism that is very present in the American culture quickly transforms it into an object of stigmatization. It is associated with ghettos and low social classes. To wear a durag is to be a vulgar thug.

⛔ Its wearing even goes as far as being forbidden in sports and in some schools!

The durag as a symbol of pride

In a very ironic way, it is ultimately the racism against durag that gradually transforms it into a symbol of pride.

The more the whites try to repress it, the more the blacks wear it as a true claim to their culture. They assert themselves by tying it around their heads and going out in the street with it. The desire is now not for emancipation as it was in the 1960s but to ask for equality. ✊🏾

This is especially true in recent years with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the rallies, the durag is very present, something to proudly anchor it in this fight for equal treatment, whether it is against police violence or simply against everyday racism.

It has become a strong symbol to show one's belonging to a community to which one is deeply attached! 🖤

Le durag comme accessoire de mode

A symbolism already initiated in the 90s!

Proudly claimed, the durag now takes a new turn: that of fashion accessory. While until now, it had never been imagined as such (or that it was limited to the hip-hop style), it now comes as a complement to an outfit. It is chosen with a specific material, color and pattern and is worn by both men and women. 💎

In fact, it is enough to observe the red carpets to realize it. It is clearly becoming a trendy accessory, enough to complete its metamorphosis. Once imposed, it is now claimed.

Wearing a durag is showing that you care about your look down to the last detail! 🕶️