Off the Clock: Weaving an Image of Beauty One Braid at a Time

Posted: August 27, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

Danielle White

Ask Danielle Mincey White which letters behind her name she is most proud of, and you may be surprised by her answer. She holds a BS, an MEd, a PhD, and a LBS (license for braid styling), and it is the latter that brings her some of her greatest satisfaction.

White, an assistant professor in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism (RHT), in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason, has been creating braid art since she saw her first cornrow hairdo at the age of 9. She was visiting family in rural Alabama and was fascinated by the intricate design in her cousin’s hair. She promptly sat down and recreated the style. Since that time, White has had no trouble finding willing volunteers on whom to practice. Family, friends, and acquaintances all line up to let her work her magic on their heads. Her fondest memories from the 1970s are of sitting on her parents’ front porch in Ohio braiding hair. She has not let anyone else touch her hair since 1981. She braids it herself.

Although she considered cosmetology as a career, White decided instead to pursue a career in sports management and earned her degrees in marketing and physical education. She currently serves as the coordinator of the sport management concentration within HRT. Her research interests are sport sociology, entrepreneurship, and the use of sport as a catalyst for public school reform. White teaches numerous courses in sport management, supervises students, and often presents at national conferences, but she spends her free time making women of color feel like Nubian queens.

braids
Detail of White’s

recent work.

For White, braiding hair is about more than just style. It is about fostering a sense of well-being and appreciation of one’s culture. “Too often, women of color are told they need to look like everyone else to be accepted,” she says. “I want African American girls to know they can be different from what they see in mainstream America and still be thought of as beautiful.”

White plans to merge her impressive academic achievements with her love of hair braiding. She sees herself educating women of color in the roles of leadership, self-care, and overall wellness. Promoting positive self images and creating beauty everywhere she goes are her goals.

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