Lori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University, an author, freelance journalist and mom. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she left the Midwest in search of an authentic life experience beginning with four years at Smith College. (Technically, one of those years was spent studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain.). After graduating from Smith, with a B.A. in comparative education and Spanish, Tharps spent two years working on Madison Avenue at one of New York City’s top-ten public relations agencies. While there she worked tirelessly writing press releases and organizing press events for a certain candy company, powdered soup distributor and a well-known maker of dry toast. After realizing she’d never succeed as a PR executive, Tharps entered Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and has been writing her way through the world ever since.
Before striking out as a freelance writer, Tharps was a staff reporter at
Vibe magazine and then a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly. She has
written for Ms., Savoy, Suede, Bitch, Odyssey Couleur and Essence magazines.
In general she is attracted to stories about cultural cross-polination and
identity. She considers herself a people person and if she weren’t a
professional writer, she’d be a professional life coach. Or a minister of a
yet-to-be determined religion.
Currently Tharps lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons. She doesn’t have a dog, but if she did, his name would be Otis. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. She spends her summers in Spain, is fluent in Spanish and can say I love you in seven languages.
Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America
by Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharps
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pub Date: 1/28/14
The definitive history of Black hair in America. Through complex cultural, political, economic, and religious lenses, the authors chronicle the history of Black hair from Africa to the present. Featuring interviews with W. Kamau Bell, Melissa Harris Perry, and more, HAIR STORY is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history and that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.
This edition has been completely revised and updated from the 2001 edition. It features new interviews and a foreword from Melissa Harris Perry, as well as two new chapters that discuss the past ten years of hair history. The new chapters cover the impact of the internet, two of the biggest trends (weaves and natural hair), Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, how the Black hair industry has changed during the 2000s and more. They help modernize the original text and show the vast transformation that has occurred in such a short time.
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Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Atria; Original edition (August 24, 2010)
Zora Anderson is a 30-year-old African American middle class, college educated woman, trained as a chef, looking for a job. As fate would have it, Kate and Craig, a married couple, aspiring professionals with a young child are looking for a nanny.
Zora seems perfect. She’s an enthusiastic caretaker, a competent house keeper, a great cook. And she wants the job, despite the fact that she won’t let her African American parents and brother know anything about this new career move. They expect much more from her than to use all that good education to do what so many Blacks have dreamed of not doing: working for White folks. Working as an au pair in Paris, France no less, was one thing, they could accept that. Being a servant to a couple not much older nor more educated, is yet another. Every adult character involved in this tangled web is hiding something: the husband is hiding his desire to turn a passion for comic books into a business from his wife, the wife is hiding her professional ambitions from her husband, the nanny is hiding her job from her family and maybe her motivations for staying on her job from herself.
Memorable characters, real-life tensions and concerns and the charming—in a hip kind of way—modern-day Park Slope, Fort Greene, Brooklyn setting make for an un-put-down-able read.
Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain
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Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 26, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
Magazine writer and editor Lori Tharps was born and raised in the
comfortable but mostly White suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she was
often the only person of color in her school and neighborhood. At an early
age, Lori decided that her destiny would be discovered in Spain. She didn't
know anyone from Spain, had never visited the country, and hardly spoke the
language. Still, she never faltered in her plans to escape to the Iberian
Arriving in the country as an optimistic college student, however, Lori soon discovers Spain's particular attitude toward Blackness. She is chased down the street by the local schoolchildren and pointed at incessantly in public, and her innocent dreams of a place where race doesn't matter are shattered. The story would end there, except Lori meets and marries a Spaniard, and that's when her true Spanish adventure really begins.
Against the ancient backdrops of Cádiz andAndalucía, Lori starts the intricate yet amusing journey of rekindling her love affair with Spain and becoming a part of her new Spanish family. From a grandmother who spies on her to a grandfather who warmly welcomes her to town with a slew of racist jokes, the close-knit clan isn't exactly waiting with open arms. Kinky Gazpacho tells the story of the redeemingpower of love and finding self in the most unexpectedplaces.
At its heart, this is a love story. It is a memoir, a travel essay, and a glimpse into the past and present of Spain. As humorous and entertaining as such favorite travel stories as Under the Tuscan Sun, this book also unveils a unique and untold history of Spain's enduring connection to West Africa. Kinky Gazpacho celebrates the mysticism of travel and the joys of watching two distinct cultures connect and come together.
Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair
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Hardcover: 198 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press;
1st edition (February 1, 2001) Check Out the 2014 Edition of this book
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
About her hair, one woman offered the following: "For years I pushed, pounded, fried, dyed, re-fried, laid down, crocheted, braided, extended, Luster Curled, Jheri Curled, hot combed, curling ironed, and hair rollered my hair trying to get it to make sense to the rest of the world. "
Two world wars, the Civil Rights Movement and a Jheri Curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the ante-bellum practice of shaving the head to pass as a "free" person" to the 1998 uproar over a White third grade teacher's reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair continue to linger as we enter the 21st century.
HAIR STORY is an historical and anecdotal exploration of Black Americans tangled hair roots. A chronological look at the culture and politics behind the ever- changing state of Black hair from 15th century Africa to the present day United States, it ties the personal to the political and the popular.
Major figures in the history of Black hair are presented --from early
hair- care entrepreneurs Annie Turnbo Malone and Madam CJ Walker to
unintended hair heroes like Angela Davis and Bob Marley.
Celebrities, stylists and cultural critics weigh in on the burgeoning sociopolitical issues surrounding Black hair -- from the historically loaded terms "good" and "bad" hair to Black hair in the work place, to mainstream society's misrepresentation and misunderstanding of kinky locks.
HAIR STORY is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history and people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.
About the Authors
Ayana D. Byrd holds a bachelors degree in political science from Columbia University's Barnard College. She is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Vibe, Rolling Stone and Honey magazines.
Lori L. Tharps attended Smith College and received a Masters Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Currently she is a correspondent at Entertainment Weekly Magazine.