Date of Award
My mother, Luisa Amezquita was, like many of her friends, a beauty shop owner in the Dominican Republic. Ever since migrating to New York City at the age of four, I always wondered what made my mother's background in hair styling so unique but yet so common amongst her many Dominican acquaintances. Although my mother did not take up the profession in NYC, Dominican women have always been known to be the best hair straighteners in the industry. While living in out small apartment in Chelsea, my mother's hair skills came in very handy when we ha no money to pay to get out hair done, or even when taking a trip to the salon in the Lower East Side was not preferable in the changing NYC weather. Perhaps it was because we are immigrants ourselves, but my mother and I have only frequented Dominican salons, since it is understood that Dominican women would know how to appropriately style our natural or relaxed hair. It also relates to how my mother's immigrant experience did not include the learning of much English, and so visiting the Dominican hair salon meant offering a space where everyone knew our language. The hair salon functioned as a place where Dominican culture was always at the forefront. Our salon visits would last hours, and out relationships with our hair stylists would deepen and last for many years. It was within the community of the hair salon that my mother and I felt like we belonged, where there were other women and children, just like us, who shared in our interests in looking beautiful––the Dominican way.
Amezquita, Ginette, "Hair Raising Power: Dominican Hair Salon Owners in New York City" (2010). African & African American Studies Senior Theses. 37.