Unlike popular beliefs, the du-rag was first worn by enslaved African American women in the early 19th century. A headwear originally conceived to wrap and protect Black’s natural hairstyle while working on the fields. Later through Hip Hop, it gained more popularity in the culture since it is the formula for Black men to achieve the best waves. Aside from its utility, the du-rag is a historical piece in Black History and has evolved into a fashion piece statement.
Durag Series is a photo series that features the du-rag also known as tie-down, wave cap, and do-rag. The series started in 2018 as a test-shoot with the painter-artist Jeh Martinez and expanded into a larger documentary work in 2019. The work was mainly photographed in Montreal, Ottawa, and New York and resulted as Jessie Emile's first solo-exhibition in November 17, 2019 at AusGang Plaza located in Saint-Hubert street, Montreal, Qc.
“I knew I wanted to pursue this photo series as a larger project when I heard about this High School, where I grew up, not allowing students to wear du-rag at school; when the majority are Black. The durag that I perceived as a casual cultural piece was still associated with gangs and ‘ghetto’. From the time I graduated from High School in 2013, I thought things had evolved. The institution is indirectly or directly encouraging social biais by doing so. And this documentary-series was an opportunity to document and highlight the du-rag in today’s modern society.”
Some see culture
Some see fashion
Some see lifestyle
I see a mix of all three.
Video by Orphée Okito