The Politics of Black Hair: An Online Course

By Donna Kakonge.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The politics of black hair is defined as challenges to the traditional ideals of beauty that affect all of us globally. As an example of this, blonde hair and blue eyes are now globally seen as the perfection of beauty. As well, a slim body is also seen as an ideal of beauty. This is evident from an examination of the media arts and entertainment industries. The politics of black hair in media arts education has been conducted via an online course using video, photographs, radio podcasts, blogs and discussion forums directed by curriculum development in post-secondary education by using the Foundations of Curriculum online course model at OISE/University of Toronto taught by Dr. Heather Sykes, as well as Donna Kakonge’s graduate research on the politics of black hair called “Afro Forever” (1999), also known as What Happened to the Afro? (2006), done at Concordia University back in 1999. This paper includes some of the discussions that were conducted for the online course during July 19, 2010 to August 29, 2010 online. Topics ranged from movies, to art, to photographs, to business, to work issues, to men and hair as well. Participants of the course have been from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Keywords: Politics of Beauty, Politics of Black Hair, Curriculum Development, Donna Kakonge, OISE/University of Toronto, Online Politics of Black Hair Course, Online/Offline Teacher, Global Education

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp.269-276. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 754.622KB).

Donna Kakonge

PhD Student/Professor/Author, OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Since 1992, Donna Kakonge has freelanced in the cultural and performing arts, as well as worked in the government sector. She began by working on a breakthrough show for youth called “Road Movies” which aired on CBC. Following this, she worked at the local, national and international levels of both CBC Radio and Television, mainly in Toronto. Kakonge was involved with the start of a first-ever morning show aired on shortwave to sub-Saharan Africa called “African Eyes.” While an Announcer/Producer for this show, she was sent on special assignment to Edmonton to meet Canadian diplomats and Nigerian author/activist Dr. Wole Soyinka. Kakonge has also worked for the Discovery Channel, Discovery Channel International, Vision-TV (for now S-Vox), and the BBC. She keeps up with the latest technology in broadcasting by maintaining a podcast online and has produced a CD of radio documentaries, as well as two audio downloads narrated by her that are available on She has done television appearances as a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Tele-Health program through commercials that aired all over Ontario, as well as guest appearances on the W Network, Food Network and “Breakfast Television.” She has been a fashion model for print and runway, represented by Tony Eastwood Talent Agency which also represented Neve Campbell at the same time. She has done art modeling for the Toronto Art School, Etobicoke School of the Arts, Durham College, Arts and Letters Club, Maxx the Mutt Animation School and many others. Art modeling was not Kakonge’s first time in the classroom. She assisted in teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Carleton University in Ottawa. She also received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from this school and received an award funded by now Senator Pamela Wallin. She assisted and also had sole-responsibility for classes taught at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, as well as closer to home at Concordia University in Montréal. She speaks French fluently. She has taught journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College. She has taught Canadian Broadcasting and Online Marketing at Trebas Institute, as well as Skills for College English at George Brown College. Kakonge has also taught ESL at Sullivan Language Learning Centre in Montréal, Institute Provincial in Montréal and TEC Inc. Other teaching experiences includes the day programs in Seneca College’s and Centennial College’s journalism programs. With Seneca she taught York University students in the joint program and with Centennial, University of Toronto students in the joint program. She has also taught Dramatic Writing at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education. Kakonge is a PhD student at OISE/University of Toronto in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Development. Kakonge is working on her dissertation with a survey completed with 100 responses, media interviews and is currently managing the first-ever online course about black hair politics. She recently received a TESOL certificate from LinguaEdge and has a Master of Arts degree in Media Studies from Concordia University where she built a website back in 1999 called Salon Utopia that included her own artwork, photographs and creative stories. She has also taken numerous courses in languages, creative writing, script-writing and broadcasting. She recently received a Québecor Documentary Fellowship that ended in 2009. She has presented at many conferences and worked for the provincial government in the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Kakonge is the author of 41 books that are both self-published and published by ( One is published by Concordia University called Headlight Anthology. Her books are available on Amazon Kindle. How to Write Creative Non-fiction is in progress of being published by University Press of America. Journalism Stories and The Best of Donna Magazine are in progress to be published by Hamilton Books. Since 2007, she has had a multimedia online magazine called Donna ( which is currently top-ranked in Google.


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