Chapter 10: “Scatter the Pigeons:” Baldness and the Performance of Hyper-Black Masculinity

This essay examines the performance of black masculinity through the image of the bald head. The essay argues that black heterosexual men who shave their heads use the style to invoke fear or desire from onlookers in an attempt to secure their masculinity. Black homosexual men appropriate this look for similar reasons, but also to combat homophobia. Ultimately, however, the author argues that the meaning of the bald head on either black heterosexual or homosexual men is contingent on history, context, and other visual cues that shifts how spectators read a bald head on black men. By incorporating an excerpt from his own one-man show, the author demonstrates how hair is a product of discourse that resists a static meaning and is also a site that neither solely reinforces oppressive forces nor transgresses them.