This essay is an account of the production of the most reproduced photograph from Good And Bad Hair: Photographs by Bill Gaskins, my monograph on the role of hair styling in American culture through the lives of African Americans. The essay also recalls and unpacks a number of extraordinary incidents in the life of the photograph and its reception. These incidents reveal how photographic representations of expressive black culture and people are often received and interpreted by viewers across the lines of race and class in problematic ways. The essay also connects the reception of this photograph to the history of photography, the history of the black photographic subject, and the challenge of relating to these images as representations of members of the human family.

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