Helen K. Thomas commentary on African American cultural practices featured in the Seattle Times

photo of Helen Thomas

For a front-page Easter-edition feature on black women and Sunday hats, the Seattle Times drew on the expertise of IAS alum Helen K. Thomas (16, Cultural Studies).

Thomas is currently the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Northwest African American Museum; she is also a novelist who focuses on young adult fiction for teens of color. Her contributions to the feature highlight the deep history and imaginative symbolism of the cultural practices of African American church-going women.

“The practice of wearing head coverings to church is not just about following Scripture, showing respect to the Lord or being fashionable,” the article notes. “For African Americans, it also connects wearers to their ancestors and their community and represents endurance and triumph over poverty, hardship and sorrow," says Helen K. Thomas.

“It’s important to acknowledge,” she says, “that we did not always have authority over our own selves and our own bodies, clothes, hair or looks. We were not, as black women, always afforded the luxury of adorning ourselves. So for us, there is something about wearing a hat that is deep."

“It’s about the sense of connection you inherently feel with your ancestors and your community,” explains Thomas, “And an expression of blackness and black culture that embodies self-expression, dignity, identity, tradition and respect,”

Read the full article here:

http://www.seattletimes.com/life/on-easter-as-on-every-sunday-church-hats-have-deep-significance-for-black-women/.