head +‎ rag

African American woman wearing a head rag


head rag (plural head rags)

  1. (US) A head covering comprising a piece of cloth wound around the head and knotted in the front, often associated with African American women.
    • 1937, Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, University of Illinois Press, 1978, Chapter 6, p. 86,[1]
      This business of the head-rag irked her endlessly. But Jody was set on it. Her hair was NOT going to show in the store.
    • 1941, Sallie Carder (interviewee) in Federal Writers’ Project, Slave Narratives, Volume 13, Oklahoma Narratives, p. 27,[2]
      During my wedding I wore a blue calico dress, a man's shirt tail as a head rag, and a pair of brogan shoes.
    • 1981, Toni Morrison, interview with Charles Ruas in Danille Taylor-Guthrie (ed.), Conversations with Toni Morrison, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994, p. 114,
      [] black women slaves in this country were not, by and large, domestics in the house, with the headrag. They worked out in the fields []
    • 2007, Linda A. Morris, Gender Play in Mark Twain: Cross-Dressing and Transgression, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, Chapter 3, p. 73,[3]
      Twain chooses here one of the most powerful and persistent racial markers with which to identify Roxana—her head rag. From this moment on, Roxana is “black”—her race does “show.”
    • 2014, Nikky Finney, Introduction to Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin, Boston: Beacon Press,
      Hansberry died from cancer at the age of thirty-four, soon after her great work, A Raisin in the Sun, yanked the apron and head rag off the institution of the American theater, Broadway, 1959.