The Other N-Word | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Other N-Word

Did you know there was more than one?

What word am I referring to? Well, it's one that is quite common in the black community, and many black women in particular are offended by it. The word: nappy.

We already know that different ethnic groups can have varying hair textures, right? If you didn't, you know now. For decades, blacks have done everything under the sun to their hair in order to assimilate and be accepted. Hot combs, dangerous chemicals, and now extensions. However, the Black Power movement in the late sixties and seventies brought about an emphasis on self-love, and "Black Is Beautiful" was the mantra of the time. There was a regression in the eighties (which included the Jheri curl), and although most men were able to wear short Afros and fades with no problem, women were still encouraged to get their hair "fixed".

Eventually, little black girls that couldn't even spell their own names yet were taught inferiority by their mothers when they cracked open a jar of "kiddie perm" and slathered the concoction onto their healthy, kinky virgin hair. If it wasn't that, the poor dears were loaded down with braid extensions so long that they could barely hold their heads up.

A resurgence in natural hair occurred in the 1990's, and dreadlocks (locs) and cornrows gained popularity, especially among men. Some women took the plunge, but at a much slower pace.

Now, more black men and women can be seen sporting their natural 'dos on television, in magazines, and on the street. However, some of the "old school" thinkers see these people as "nappy-headed". Afros, cornrows, dreadlocks and twists are gaining acceptance, and even those who are still afraid to give up the relaxers have gotten extensions that look like natural hair. Even celebrities are embracing the looks: Tempestt Bledsoe (Cosby), Lalah Hathaway, T'Keyah Crystal Kemah/Orlando Jones (That's So Raven), India.Arie, Jill Scott, Gary Dourdan (CSI), Kim Fields (Facts of Life), Nadia Turner (American Idol), and so on.

Some see the popularity in wearing their natural hair texture as a trend. However, it has become a way of life for many, including myself. Since I have locs, I work hard to stave off stereotypes of being a pot smoker who doesn't wash her hair. (I never smoked anything, and my hair is washed weekly.) I also wear different hairstyles to show how versatile locs can be. I have even rolled my hair. Locs are still catching on in the South, but in other parts of the nation and the world, people of both genders and different races have already been wearing locs.

My main goal for "going against the grain" is to let people know that what you are born with is not inferior, whether that be hair texture, skin tone, or the size of your nose. As I heard someone say once, God made me, and God don't make no junk! I'm HAPPY TO BE NAPPY!

References:
http://www.anappyhairaffair.com/
http://www.nappturality.com/
http://www.motowngirl.com/
http://www.naani.com/
http://www.sisterlocks.com/
http://www.naturallyyoumagazine.com/

Previous Comments

ID
105193
Comment

L.W., this reminds me of the novel MAKE ME HOT by Marissa Monteilh. You're right: there is no substitute for being satisfied with yourself.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-03-09T08:04:08-06:00
ID
105194
Comment

Liked the article, LW.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-03-09T16:32:27-06:00
ID
105195
Comment

Thanks, guys. I'm glad to have a platform to share this information locally.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-09T23:53:33-06:00
ID
105196
Comment

BTW, my struggles with this issue had prompted me to start designing T-shirts a year ago. Here's some of the stuff I came up with.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-10T00:26:05-06:00
ID
105197
Comment

Good Latasha. I'll buy a couple.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-03-10T09:07:18-06:00
ID
105198
Comment

Thanks, Ray. Let me know what you get and how you like them.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-11T01:30:03-06:00
ID
105199
Comment

I just finished going through those links listed above and I have one question..... Let me preface by saying there is no end to the discrimination that goes on among black people. We find ways to categorize ourselves apart from each other, we don't even need white people to do that. I am BLACK and PROUD. I am one of those women who live and breath my heritage. I use every opportunity I can to take stands against things that are not for the betterment of my people. I make daily strides to find some way to unify my community. I take issue with the way the "afrocentric" community in Jackson separates itself from the rest of the community. I don't have locks, I respect locks and those who wear them. However, I am offended by the idea that my cultural exposure is questioned because I choose to have a relaxer in my hair or I choose to wear extensions. Why is it that to the "culturally correct" blacks in our community that signifies ignorance and/or lack of pride. That is ridiculous. Just because I perfer the look I have over the look you have, does not mean you're "MORE BLACK" than I am. Just because I don't wear Dashiki's every time I leave the house, doesn't mean that I am not just as proud as you are. It just means our tastes are different. Black people we gotta do a lot better. How are we going to find a balance if we are constantly separating ourselves from ourselves (sororities/fraternities, masonic organizations, denominations, financial classifications)....PEOPLE PLEASE!!!! The display that comes from these "Conscieous" folk makes people who'd love to learn more about being an African weary because they feel like because they don't want "NAPPY" hair and they don't want to use natural soap instead of Dail that they must not be worthy. They must be living wrong or something. It's discouraging. Donna, you should have one of your staff people do a story on this! It's becoming an epidemic and it needs to be brought to the surface and exposed so that we can find a way to end this form of separation. I get from this site, that we are all working toward a common goal of freedom and togetherness...this might be a good way to start.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-03-20T13:22:38-06:00
ID
105200
Comment

Queen601, I didn't see your post until now, and I apologize for replying so late. My intention was not to offend, but to inform, and I also apologize if I did offend you. However, can you see that societal pressures can be a source of self-hate? If not, why do hair-altering chemicals and plastic surgery exist? Why do people suffer from anorexia, bulemia and body dysmorphic disorder? Why do we spend millions on exercise equipment and off-the-wall beauty treatments? There is an ideal that so many are chasing after, whether it be a Caucasian having her lips injected with collagen, an Asian surgically adding creases to her eyelids, or an African relaxing her hair or bleaching her skin. My goal is promoting self-love. Sure, it is okay to enhance your natural beauty, but I draw the line at risking life and limb to become someone else. Some blacks with natural hair can be overzealous, and the goal is usually to educate others, but sometimes things come out the wrong way and they end up offending someone. Just look at it as an inablity for these people to express themselves properly. Some of them forget that they used to relax their hair and shun nappy hair. I have been natural for 4.5 years, and I have learned (and am still learning) how to share my opinion. To me, the best approach is to let the other person ask questions or share an opinion first, and I then can respond about my experience and not say anything about the other person's 'do. (cont'd)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-31T23:03:29-06:00
ID
105201
Comment

(cont'd)I compare this to when my nephew asked me if there was a Santa Claus. I told him there wasn't, but I stressed to him that he should not go around telling other kids, for some may get upset. Just the same way I don't like anyone pressuring me to get a relaxer, I don't want to pressure anyone to stop. I would rather just be a good example and influence others to consider it or at least just change their view of nappy hair. I would like to encourage you to read Hair Story : Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. The authors don't promote one hair style over another. It simply gives a historical background of our hair over the centuries, so you can use the book to draw your own conclusions. Be blessed.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-31T23:18:03-06:00
ID
105202
Comment

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Go to http://music.yahoo.com/ and check out India.Arie's video of "I Am Not My Hair". I believe the goal of this song is to unify.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-01T00:03:44-06:00
ID
105203
Comment

LW...firstly allow me to say that I support the effort to engage those who have lost the "self love" that you are trying to perpetuate. I too, spend a lot of my time trying to lead by example. I would like to try and get people who feel as if relaxing my hair is contradictory to illustrating cultural pride. You have a great point when it comes to the tactics we use to make ourselves more like others or maybe for some just to feel better about themselves. Thing is, seems like some are saying that if you do this to feel better about yourself (relaxing your hair) then you are setting up a false realism and if you don't choose to go natural then you have not accepted who you are, thus accepted your culture and heritage. It's that mindset that I find difficult to deal with. This society does play a very large/profound role in that, I agree. You got whites doing things to look more ethnic and you got blacks doing things to look more un-ethnic. The issue is identity. One must find in themselves their own way to self love. And be not the judge of whether I display self love whether my hair is relaxed or in a fro. I don't think that by having a relaxer in my hair that is displaying a longing to be white. I think that is rediculous to even punder. You do have some people out there who might have relaxed hair just for that purpose. However generally, I don't think that is the case. I may be the only person in the world to have highlights and relaxed hair and still be PROUD OF BEING BLACK and KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT MY HERITAGE...I doubt it, but I can speak only for me. Point is, this article and articles like it, are contributing to the problem that society has magnified. How can you teach self love if you are downing a person for not being a certain way. In order for one to love themselves you can't make them feel like what they do, how they are, what they believe is WRONG and that you are right. You must teach them who they are and allow them the opportunity to grow into that person. You can not look at me and tell me I'm trying to be white and thus not being true to self. You can't tell me who self is to me. You certainly can't convience me that who I believe myself to be is not right. I am right in who I am. I am confident whether I wear locks, a fro or a perm. I love myself and I love the me I see in my sisters who wear locks and who wear fros. That's apart of me as well. I just choose not to look that way. It is a free country and I can look how I want to look. I can serve whatever God I want to serve. I can do it all as long as I am steadfast in my heritage and uncompromising when it comes to those who come to shake me be it a white man or a black woman. Again, I agree that society is the originator of this issue by playing on the less fortunate when it comes to self esteem and self love. However I think the method used by the "culturally correct" is only adding to this problem and not standing to correct it. You can not possible teach love if you look at me and can't understand how I can be conscious if I don't have natural hair. It's about choice. It's about identity. It's about education. I bet there is nothing that you didn't learn form Tougaloo that I too didnt have the opportunity to learn. Just because you decided to go natural doesn't the rest of us in the world that decided to maintain straight hair fell short of that experience. All it means is that it affected you one way and affected me another. Just like those who become introduced to anything new and want to adjust themselves to be like that new thing, I could say that is the fad that most are following. I was raised in a household were Afrocentrism was celebrated. Normal. And just because I decided to straighten (and color) my hair does not mean I am not black anymore or that you (or anyone who decided differently) is black "for real".

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-03T13:24:02-06:00
ID
105204
Comment

I am sorry I was typing so fast, I didn't complete my last sentence in the first paragrah.... LW...firstly allow me to say that I support the effort to engage those who have lost the "self love" that you are trying to perpetuate. I too, spend a lot of my time trying to lead by example. I would like to try and get people who feel as if relaxing my hair is contradictory to illustrating cultural pride to at least consider the following:

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-03T13:26:28-06:00
ID
105205
Comment

Point is, this article and articles like it, are contributing to the problem that society has magnified. How can you teach self love if you are downing a person for not being a certain way. In order for one to love themselves you can't make them feel like what they do, how they are, what they believe is WRONG and that you are right. The article is just a commentary, just like any other blog. It is based on my own personal experiences and things that I have discussed with others, whether it be in person or online. My goal is not to put down others, but to share what I know and let people make their own decisions. Of course, when you are passionate about something, you will say things in a way that may be too much for some, whether it be a vegan, an AIDS advocate, a Christian, or a chick with nappy hair. Even on the continent of Africa, more black women are relaxing their hair. Something's going on here. Those who wear natural hair still have many battles to fight for acceptance, such as: -Hair being accepted in the workplace -Finding salons who specialize in natural hair (many black hairstylists do not know how and would rather relax or straighten it) -Opposition from family and the opposite sex -Opposition from the black community (I've heard many instances about people whose hair was admired by other races more than their own)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-03T21:46:39-06:00
ID
105206
Comment

You can not look at me and tell me I'm trying to be white and thus not being true to self. You can't tell me who self is to me. You certainly can't convience me that who I believe myself to be is not right. I am right in who I am. I am confident whether I wear locks, a fro or a perm. I love myself and I love the me I see in my sisters who wear locks and who wear fros. That's apart of me as well. I just choose not to look that way. It is a free country and I can look how I want to look. I can serve whatever God I want to serve. I can do it all as long as I am steadfast in my heritage and uncompromising when it comes to those who come to shake me be it a white man or a black woman. I could never say to anyone that he/she is trying to be white because only you know what's in your heart. I can only express myself from my eyes, and it would disingenuous of me not to. If you are not relaxing your hair because you think your hair is inferior or bad, good for you. However, I would like for you to do some research on the chemicals used in the relaxing process, and you can draw your own conclusions instead of me telling you. But, there is one thing I am strongly against: relaxing the hair of children. I can't tell anyone else what to do with their kids, but if I ever have any, I will not relax their hair. Again, I agree that society is the originator of this issue by playing on the less fortunate when it comes to self esteem and self love. However I think the method used by the "culturally correct" is only adding to this problem and not standing to correct it. You can not possible teach love if you look at me and can't understand how I can be conscious if I don't have natural hair. I never said that you were not culturally conscious. I have read other posts from you, and it is obvious that you are. The goal of many with natural hair is to let others know that natural hair is okay and does not have to be hidden. Some people want to go natural but are afraid of what others may say or do. Letting them know that going natural is okay could encourage them to do it. Just like those who become introduced to anything new and want to adjust themselves to be like that new thing, I could say that is the fad that most are following. Yes, natural hair may be a fad to some, but if you think about it, natural hair has always been with us. Relaxers just showed up this past century. Dreads were worn by Africans long before Rastafarianism. Even Frederick Douglass wore his fro in defiance because at thet time, black men were not allowed to grow out their hair. Also, black women had to always keep their hair covered in public. And just because I decided to straighten (and color) my hair does not mean I am not black anymore or that you (or anyone who decided differently) is black "for real". I would never say that. Child, if you ever forgot you were black, society would quickly remind you regardless of your hairstyle.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-03T21:47:24-06:00
ID
105207
Comment

This statement is simply a "reach" to condone your ideals, to which you have every right to. I suppose you could also tell those of African descent who eat meat that they need to research to find out what chemicals are used in processing meat. Do you eat meat, LW? If you do, does that mean that because you are not a vegetarian that you are not being true to your culture? Of course it doesn't. I mean if a person decides they don't want to relax their hair...that's is fine, if they decide they do...that's fine. My problem is with people who think they have the right to judge a person. I know people with fros and dreads who are not in anyway centered around their culture, heritage or pride of being African. I am not at all a person who would look at how you wear your hair or clothes or anything else to determine where you are with your identity. And I suggest if you are interested in more about this that you do some research and interview some people who are unlike yourself. People who meet and build to solve this issue and do not look like you. We do exist and have more powerful impact on the community because we are not interested in how the public views us. The issues you mentioned in your post about the public acceptance, I don't encounter that and in that can be more accepting....not that that is my desire. I couldn't care less. However, the point is, my blackness doesn't stand to be judged. My heart doesn't stand to be judged. My pride and my stregnth is not to be judged....it takes someone who has issues within themselves to look at a person and JUDGE them based on what they look like and for someone who is in support of unity, I'd think that we'd get more from you and those who share in your ideals. And are you also against locking up children's hair? Please elaborate. Okay point taken. However, when is the commentary coming out about people like me who CHOOSE not to wear naturals and that's okay too? How can you do a peice without offering an alternative, unless you are not open to one? I agree that people are afraid to go natural. However I maintain, some (probably most who are admittedly cultural) have chosen NOT to go natural. Just like some of these folk who wear locks have choosen to wear locks because their favorite hip hop artist wears them. To me there should be a story on that too. Would you rather see someone without clear understanding of the stuggle that comes with locks and wears them anyway OR would you rather see a person with relaxed hair who is clear and conscious and determined to teach black pride to those who don't know. Which one of these people actually contribute to the confusion this discussion points out?

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T09:34:59-06:00
ID
105208
Comment

I appreciate the Frederick Douglass lesson, however, just as time changes everything and somethings stay the same, that applies particularly to this situation. If we were in our homeland never being exposed to an easier more managable way to handle our hair and never had been exposed to relaxers then I too would be wearing a fro or locks or braids. However, we are not in our homeland. Our culture hasn't left us because we now have perms available. And what we look like shouldn't be a focus as much as how much we know. We need to be educated as a people on who we are, where we come from, how we got here....we should spend more time offering information instead of criticism. You are not going to convinence me that what I look like determines who I am or the extint of my blackness...nor can I be convienced that because you wear a fro that you are somehow ordained to offer me information on how to be more black. You'd have to offer me a little bit more of the lesson you mentioned in your earlier post. That's what's convincing... knowledge and power and if your hair is fried dyed and laid to the side and your words are filled with pride and strength I couldn't care less what your hair looks like. And believe me LW, I know I'm not in the mass majority on these views, however, I simply believe that we as black people need to embrace each other for who we are and stop living like we are so much better than the next man. Everyone has an answer and nobody wants to ask the questions. WHY ARE WE NOT UNITED? WHY DO WE HATE ON EACH OTHER? WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET BLACK PEOPLE TO ACCEPT EACH OTHER/OR THEMSELVES? Everyone has a solution to offer or a puff peice to do and no one wants to deal with the issues as they relate to us as a people. I support your attempt to set pride in people and screaming out that it's okay to go natural but in doing so do not say that it's not right NOT to go natural. You can announce your song to the world without turning off the radio when I start singing! Yes mam, but not only would society remind me.....apparently you and those like you would "quickly remind" me as well!

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T09:35:09-06:00
ID
105209
Comment

This statement is simply a "reach" to condone your ideals, to which you have every right to. Queen, I am not trying to judge. My goal is to educate. I did not write the article to tell people what to do. I wrote it to explain why we do what we do. I suppose you could also tell those of African descent who eat meat that they need to research to find out what chemicals are used in processing meat. Do you eat meat, LW? If you do, does that mean that because you are not a vegetarian that you are not being true to your culture? Of course it doesn't. I do not fully understand this since there are Africans who eat meat, but I will tell you that I stopped eating pork and certain variety meats 14 years ago. I also try to eat organic and preservative-free beef, poultry and fish when I can afford it. I am transitioning out of using any chemicals and sticking to natural products. I'm not saying this to make anyone else feel bad - I'm just trying to answer your question. I mean if a person decides they don't want to relax their hair...that's is fine, if they decide they do...that's fine. My problem is with people who think they have the right to judge a person. I know people with fros and dreads who are not in anyway centered around their culture, heritage or pride of being African. I am not at all a person who would look at how you wear your hair or clothes or anything else to determine where you are with your identity. Once again, I am not judging. I am sharing my point of view. I know there are plenty of people with natural hair who are not doing it for cultural reasons - the same way you are not perming your hair because you are ashamed of it.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T12:01:32-06:00
ID
105210
Comment

And I suggest if you are interested in more about this that you do some research and interview some people who are unlike yourself. People who meet and build to solve this issue and do not look like you. We do exist and have more powerful impact on the community because we are not interested in how the public views us. I talk to people unlike myself on a regular basis. I don't even bring up the subject of hair - they do it for me. I have gotten all kinds of responses: "I would do it, but I don't think I would look right" "My parents/husband/boyfriend would kill me." "My hair is more manageable when it's permed." I never jumped down their throats for saying these things because I understand the root of it. I've gone from pressing to a relaxer to pressing again to a Jheri curl to a relaxer to pressing for a third time. I hated the smell, the burning, and the breakage, but I was afraid of not being accepted if I stopped (especially by my family), and I thought my hair was "bad". I just want people to know that kinky hair is not "bad". However, the point is, my blackness doesn't stand to be judged. My heart doesn't stand to be judged. My pride and my stregnth is not to be judged....it takes someone who has issues within themselves to look at a person and JUDGE them based on what they look like and for someone who is in support of unity, I'd think that we'd get more from you and those who share in your ideals. I am not judging. I'm assuming that you have had some terrible experiences with natural-haired people because I don't understand why you are so offensive. If you really knew me, you would find out that I am not who you think I am. And are you also against locking up children's hair? Please elaborate. Personally, I would not loc my child's hair unless he/she requested it. However, I am not against anyone else doing it because locs can be taken down. It takes longer than braids, but it can be done. However, when is the commentary coming out about people like me who CHOOSE not to wear naturals and that's okay too? How can you do a peice without offering an alternative, unless you are not open to one? I am open to listen to what anyone else has to say. The point of the piece was to focus on nappy hair. I did not enjoy having a relaxer, so I do not feel qualified enough to provide the alternative that you are seeking. I think that you would do a much better job. Would you rather see someone without clear understanding of the stuggle that comes with locks and wears them anyway OR would you rather see a person with relaxed hair who is clear and conscious and determined to teach black pride to those who don't know. Which one of these people actually contribute to the confusion this discussion points out? I don't think this is a fair question because you are already implying the answer.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T12:02:33-06:00
ID
105211
Comment

I'm not a black woman, but may I say that I have absolutely no idea what it was about Latasha's post that anyone would see as an attack. I've complemented some black women on their hair after they went natural and some after they went straight. I'm sure on some subconscious level it's all probably connected to my institutional racism complex, since that pervades so many things, but at least on a conscious level it's just about pretty women and their hair. Loc it, straighten it, bleach it, dye it green--it's none of my business. But I do like the fact that there is a movement that affirms that black women don't have to use straightener and crap, because even I know there was a time not very long ago when they did if they wanted to be treated like human beings by whites, and the recent business with Cynthia McKinney--where she was accosted by Capitol Police for going natural, then described by a "ghetto slut" for it by a white talk show host--shows that this is still a very real, very live problem. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T12:33:14-06:00
ID
105212
Comment

We need to be educated as a people on who we are, where we come from, how we got here....we should spend more time offering information instead of criticism. Once again, I was trying to offer information. You may not have liked what was said or how it was said, and I apologize if what I said bothered you, but my goal here is still to educate. You are not going to convinence me that what I look like determines who I am or the extint of my blackness...nor can I be convienced that because you wear a fro that you are somehow ordained to offer me information on how to be more black. I never said you weren't black enough or that I was more black than you. Where did that come from? You'd have to offer me a little bit more of the lesson you mentioned in your earlier post. That is why I suggested the book, but perhaps these other links will help: http://www.drkoop.com/PrinterFriendly/93/524346.html http://www.nappystories.com/main/nonfiction/nonfiction.htm http://zzz.pridesource.com/article.shtml?article=13979§ion=news http://www.essence.com/essence/showallmessages/0,18603,1045798,00.html http://www.emergingminds.org/magazine/content/item/1291 Everyone has an answer and nobody wants to ask the questions. WHY ARE WE NOT UNITED? WHY DO WE HATE ON EACH OTHER? WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GET BLACK PEOPLE TO ACCEPT EACH OTHER/OR THEMSELVES? Everyone has a solution to offer or a puff peice to do and no one wants to deal with the issues as they relate to us as a people. To me, our hair is an issue, which is why I wrote the article. I was looking for questions. I support your attempt to set pride in people and screaming out that it's okay to go natural but in doing so do not say that it's not right NOT to go natural. You can announce your song to the world without turning off the radio when I start singing! I talked about the struggle to be natural. Yes, I implied what side I am on, but I never specifically condemned anyone who chooses to process his/her own hair. Yes mam, but not only would society remind me.....apparently you and those like you would "quickly remind" me as well! I expected opposition when I wrote this, and that's fine, but personal attacks are not necessary.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T12:34:12-06:00
ID
105213
Comment

complemented --> complimented. I am not a hair accessory. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T12:34:52-06:00
ID
105214
Comment

Tom, could you repost the second link? It did not work.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T12:44:29-06:00
ID
105215
Comment

Sorry; screwed up the HTML. Here it is. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T12:48:29-06:00
ID
105216
Comment

I'm amazed. Boortz said that McKinney's "new hair-do" makes her look "like a ghetto slut," like "an explosion at a Brillo pad factory," like "Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence," and like "a shih tzu." Okay, her hair is in two French braids going down the sides of her head. I don't see an explosion.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T12:55:02-06:00
ID
105217
Comment

I have to admit I don't see where Latasha deserves an attack either. I didn't see where she questioned anyone pride, identity, and self-worth; or is trying to criticize anybody for anything. LW's responses are thoughful and considerate, too. LW and Queen are both pointing out well the issues black women (and some men) have concerning hair, and whether any particular hair-style says anything at all. This should be a collaboration or conversation instead of a fight. It doesn't appear that either really have any great disagreement with the other. Can we do a group hug? I like your fire, Queen; but you're probably fighting an ally. Latasha is a wonderful sister.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-04-04T13:01:45-06:00
ID
105218
Comment

I read Boortz's "apology", and I'm assuming her hair was not braided when he saw her. Still, his comments were quite racist to me.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T13:01:45-06:00
ID
105219
Comment

There was also an incident where a woman with locs got a job as a flight attendant. During training, she read a rule in the handbook about not wearing hairstyles that they considered to be unusual. She asked a superior about it, and she was told her hair was fine. Two months after completing trainign and being on the job, she was told that she would be fired if she did not change her hair. Her issue was reviewed, and last time I heard from her, they are going to let her stay. While the issue was under review, she wore a wig. Ironically, it was an Afro wig. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T13:11:43-06:00
ID
105220
Comment

Let me just say this...who said I was attacking LW. Yall kill me on this site. As soon as a person who speaks with passion about something that is contrary to what most of you think there you go with the attacking thing. I am not attacking her. I am just "sharing my opinion" just as she has done. I am not going to apologize for having a difference of opinion or being blunt. Maybe the reason you think I'm attacking is because it's not sugar coated and I think it's high time that things stop being sugar coated. My comments began with this article but it graduated beyond that. However, I expect that on this site it's about who you know and how far you go. Since I am already known as the attacker and the "trouble maker" here, I expect that it's easy for you all to defend what you see as the underdog. At any rate, that being said. LW just consider my points. Congratulations on noticing that there is a struggle here and for trying to shed some light. I will look forward to reading an article in the future were you share the experience of those who don't wear their hair naturally but still represent our race and do well. Peace sista.... LW, also, if you'd like to continue this conversation please feel free, I'll be reading. And just so you know I was completely offended by this article. But I do understand that that was not your intent. However, I don't think you gave much consideration to how it would make people feel who did not wear naturals. That is the reason I spoke out about it, not that your peice shouldn't have been done at all, just that it should follow up with the rest of the story. that's it. Now I bow out before I get the heave ho. I smell it coming.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T13:28:30-06:00
ID
105221
Comment

Oh, Ray, I know, as I stated, I went to Tougaloo with LW. I knew her then and she was sweet. I expect that she still is. I admire her pride. However it wasn't looking at her that made me feel her pride, it was her words and the spirit I felt from reading it. That's my point in a nutshell.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T13:32:37-06:00
ID
105222
Comment

Queen, I don't think you're in any danger of the heave ho but I make no apologies for backing up Latasha. She rocks. The photo of McKinney in the Feministing piece is actually pre-hairstyle. Here's how she looks now. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T13:35:13-06:00
ID
105223
Comment

(BTW- If anyone's wondering, I like the new hair much better. The old one parted too much in the middle; I thought of Princess Leia's hair from the first Star Wars movie. Not that I'm in a position to be a fashion critic!)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T13:36:08-06:00
ID
105224
Comment

New hair = new hairdo. Presumably it's the same old hair, though I notice she did go red. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T13:36:45-06:00
ID
105225
Comment

Yes mam, but not only would society remind me.....apparently you and those like you would "quickly remind" me as well! I expected opposition when I wrote this, and that's fine, but personal attacks are not necessary. WHY IS THAT A PERSONAL ATTACK? Did you personally attack society by saying that they would remind me? I think this response...the attack thing...is simply a way to soften the blow. That's where these conversations always go. Sorry if I spoke in an attacking nature. I was not coming on here to make LW feel bad. I came on here to make LW recognize the fact that her story lacks completeness that's all. And, believe it or not, it's MY opinion. But when you are in a situation where you offer your opinion, you should prepare yourself to receive that of others. And most of the time outside of this JFP site, the world will not be kind to you. Roll with the punches!

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T13:38:48-06:00
ID
105226
Comment

There's no need to attack people in here, we're all civilized, I hope. Hiiiiiiii---chop! *breaks wood plank*

Author
JSU
Date
2006-04-04T13:53:25-06:00
ID
105227
Comment

Thanks Queen. Glad to know you went to Tougaloo, too. I don't know why I didn't learn to write as well as you and LW do. I hope the guys graduating from Tougaloo during y'all era represents the school's legacy as well as you and LW do. I made good grades from Mrs. Johnson but she forgot to tell me to check for errors before submitting. I urge you and LW to keep posting. It shows most people from Tougaloo did learn something. Y'all cancel me out. I don't believe Donna will run you off for stating a different opinion. I know you will always be yourself.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-04-04T15:06:31-06:00
ID
105228
Comment

Ha ha, that's truly funny! Yeah, I had a hard time staying awake in Mrs. Johnson's class. But she was a good educator.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-04T15:24:11-06:00
ID
105229
Comment

I went to Tougaloo with LW. Queen, could you give me a hint who you are? The photo of McKinney in the Feministing piece is actually pre-hairstyle. Here's how she looks now. Tom, it's a little hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like she has a blowout with a bang on the side. I think it's cool and funky. WHY IS THAT A PERSONAL ATTACK? Did you personally attack society by saying that they would remind me? I think this response...the attack thing...is simply a way to soften the blow. It was the "apparently you and those like you" statement that made me think you were implying that I was a judgmental self-righteous b----. so I felt the need to defend myself. It sounded like one of those "You people" statements. Notice that in my responses, I did not try to place you in a particular category, and I would like for you to return the favor. Also, when I spoke of society, I was talking about institutional racism. Now, if I said "Everyone in the world should die", then that would be a personal attack on society. But when you are in a situation where you offer your opinion, you should prepare yourself to receive that of others. And most of the time outside of this JFP site, the world will not be kind to you. Roll with the punches! I know firsthand how unkind the world is, and that was way before I had a JFP blog. Since I know what it's like to be treated like dirt, I wanted to relate to others who have been treated like dirt in one aspect: hair. I have no problem with debates. Tougaloo is the debate capital of the world, remember? :-) I came on here to make LW recognize the fact that her story lacks completeness that's all. Do you see how calm that statement was? Before, statements such as "This is ridiculous" and "PEOPLE PLEASE" sounded a little hostile. Overall, I think you missed the main point of the article. I didn't even mention cultural consciousness in the article. The main point was in the last paragraph: My main goal for "going against the grain" is to let people know that what you are born with is not inferior, whether that be hair texture, skin tone, or the size of your nose. As I heard someone say once, God made me, and God don't make no junk! I'm HAPPY TO BE NAPPY! All I was saying is that we should love ourselves for who we are and what God gave us, "warts and all" as they say. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T16:48:08-06:00
ID
105230
Comment

Here's an excerpt from a forum that I belong to: One of my co-workers who has relaxed hair, surprisingly wore cornrows to work (with weave of course). She had them pulled back in a cute bun. She told me that one of our co-workers (another Black lady) told her that her hair was unprofessional. She said she didn't like it or twists or afros or any of the other styles. She told her she was old fashioned and believed we should "fix" our hair. She told me all this while laughing because she doesn't care what this woman thinks. She went on to tell me that she knows if she doesn't care for her cornrows, she must hate mine. All of this was said in front of a white co-worker, who basically did not side with the "natural hair hating" woman. I said that the other woman must not like herself and because of that she feels ashamed when she sees a natural style on Black women. She must feel her hair is inferior. I said that I don't have that problem. I LOVE my hair! Believe it or not, the white woman said that Blacks wear their hair straight to feel accepted by whites. I replied, "And it still doesn't make them any more acceptable." She replied, "You're right". She didn't say it in a racist way, she was just affirming what I had said.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T16:51:23-06:00
ID
105231
Comment

L.W. writes: Tom, it's a little hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like she has a blowout with a bang on the side. I think it's cool and funky. Me too! It's a rocking look--and in a subtle way, I think it also flips the bird at her critics. Here's a better pic. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-04-04T16:54:25-06:00
ID
105232
Comment

Also, here's a link to background information on why I feel the way I do: http://www.loccorg.com/ I await your reply.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T16:57:34-06:00
ID
105233
Comment

Me too! It's a rocking look--and in a subtle way, I think it also flips the bird at her critics. The second pic is even better. Since she's from Georgia, it doesn't surprise me. When I went to Atlanta last year, downtown at lunchtime looked like a natural hair show. I didn't feel out of place or anything.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-04T17:41:53-06:00
ID
105234
Comment

i just came across this entry today. i didn't take latasha's celebration of nappy hair as a superior one. there are many women who can't come to terms with weight and appearance. a black woman's hair can be a sticky subject. i didn't see her entry as a divide among black people, but an acknowledgement of a segment of the people. nothing's wrong with that. but i feel as latasha feels. i've been a nappy almost nine years and loc'ed over three. we visit a few of the same sites.

Author
aquababie
Date
2006-04-04T19:22:25-06:00
ID
105235
Comment

:-) I'm glad that all of you are happy to celebrate nappy. That's a wonderful thing, but unnappy should be celebrated just the same. You know why, because we are all black and that is enough...should be anyway. Thank you for pointing out the parts of my posts that seems like attacks on you personally. I maintain, they were not meant to be personal attacks...however in fighting wars attacks against stands and outward statements are natural. Doesn't mean I want to shoot you for your article. Just means that I have the right and ability to state my opinion in contrast. Harsh or not, public statements are there for each person who desire to evaluate and respond. That's just what I did. You have a support system working over here, and that's just wonderful. Doesn't necessarily contribute to you seeing my point of view, but I am sure it helps you deal with the harshness of my statements. At any rate, again, we must accept each other: hair, opinions, words, thoughts, deeds, weight, height, whatever....I accept you as choosing to be natural and you should (as you stated that you do) accept me for not making the same choice. To each it's own. Peace.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-05T09:19:45-06:00
ID
105236
Comment

I have had some of the same experiences that Queen has with a few uber-Natural folks. I can't tell you how many times I've had to defend my blackness or cultural pride becuase on that particular day my hair happened to be straight. I know that there are people who believe "if it ain't white it ain't right" and they may choose to straighten, dye their hair, lighten skin, colored contacts etc. But there are many of us who straighten for convenience too- when I wear my hair natural, I have to get it wet to style it- and y'all know what our mamas say about going outside in the cold air with a wet head of hair! I personally like the variety of being able to change my hairstyle whenever I want- I can straighten it, twist it or wear it natural. Afro puffs and braids don't work with my hair. But I love that we as women of color are at a point in society when we can do whatever the heck we want with our hair. We may have to occassionally push back when we are challenged about it but I think we have enough weapons in our intelligence arsenal to fight back. (I almost got fired for wearing a headwrap when I first moved here- I refused to take it off and threatened a nasty court battle. They dropped it- tee-hee!) LW thank you for speaking up about the choices we have and Queen thanks for reminding us that part of having the right to make choices is respecting other people when they make different ones.

Author
urbangypsy
Date
2006-04-05T10:04:15-06:00
ID
105237
Comment

And after saying all of that, my lazy butt wears my hair in a ponytail and baseball cap most of the time! But Vive' La Nappy and Un-Nappy!

Author
urbangypsy
Date
2006-04-05T10:06:40-06:00
ID
105238
Comment

I have admired the way that both L.W. and Queen expressed their views on this subject, one with which I (as a white woman) have no personal experience. That said, I must agree with the position brought out by Queen: *any* time *any* group (or race) splinters into subgroups and begins to attack the other subgroups, that weakens the whole. If it is true that there is divisiveness within the black community regarding natural or non-natural hair styles to such an extent that those with non-natural hair are judged to have less personal or racial pride, then the group as a whole has been weakened from within. And that, my friends, makes me sad. What to do about it? Talking about the issue may help . . . On hairstyles themselves and offering perhaps a different perspective, let me say I have always envied the flexibility of a black woman's hair: curly, straight, beads, braids, etc. -- and it looks great short too! I had a law professor with an incredibly short Afro who was absolutely stunning. My hair just doesn't have those options. But it's nice to read that urbangypsy and I can share our style: ponytails and baseball caps. :-) Thanks to L.W. and Queen -- as well as the other posters -- for what has been a very educational and informative diversion from work.

Author
Newt
Date
2006-04-05T10:52:06-06:00
ID
105239
Comment

haha@quen601 you know how it is

Author
JSU
Date
2006-04-05T11:04:08-06:00
ID
105240
Comment

Not sure I know what that last comment by JSU means, but okay... I appreciate that there is someone on here who at least can read through my "harsh" comments to understand that there is a ligitimate issue here. I don't think that it has been made clear simply because of the method upon which I came across. So maybe now that someone has validated my statements it can be given a considerable amount of thought and time. Point here is we are as stated earlier a race of people who has luxuries that others don't share as pointed out by Newt. That is something that we should applaud and be proud of. We should not use this as an opportunity to judge (and LW made it clear - again that that was not the intent of the article-however through elaboration- that needed to be addressed because it is very very real). Still though, there are some of us unlike urbangypsy who don't wear naturals at all, and still have every right to be held in the same regard as those who always do and those who do from time to time. This seems sort of trivial when it gets right down to it. But for me, it is not at all simple and plain. It is a form of separation and for that I condemn the entire idea. Having said that, I still think this peice should be commended as it offers those who color, die and use relaxers for the WRONG reasons, the opportunity to be introduced to an alternative. However, I still insist that we need to have a story done on those of us who annouce our heritage with pride and do it with straightened hair. Not to be white or anything different than what we are, but because we are human beings who have choices and although they may differ from other people's choices, they are still worthy of respect and consideration.

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-05T12:53:09-06:00
ID
105241
Comment

Indeed, Queen. You are a Queen.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-04-05T18:48:43-06:00
ID
105242
Comment

Well thank you Ray....and in all humbleness and modesty....I agree!

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-06T08:37:38-06:00
ID
105243
Comment

Queen, I completely understand what you are saying, however I think your comments are not quite apropos as a response to this particular article. Let me use a metaphor (and it is simply a metaphor): Take Black History month. Some people ask, "Why is there a need for a Black History month? If we have one, shouldn't we have a White History month as well?" And of course, the answer to that question is: Every month is White History month. White history is validated and commemorated every day in obvious and subtle ways, in contrast to Black history, which in the past has usually been ignored or denigrated. So those that came up with BHM (rightly or wrongly) were trying to fill a gap, redress an imbalance. I think that's what LW was trying to do with her article. She is trying to validate natural nappy hair. Generally speaking, relaxed hair doesn't need to be validated because relaxed hair is the NORM for Black women. It is what is expected of us. When as a Black woman you leave your hair the way it grows out of your scalp, that's when people ask you, "Why would you do that?", and "What are you going to do with it?" But a Black woman who spend hours in the salon every 8 weeks chemically straightening her hair is never asked by the wider Black community to justify her decision. (Strange, isn't it? I always thought it was action rather than inaction that required reasons). On the other hand, some Black women with natural hair have to resort to online communities to find support and rant and cry about their father or grandmother who tells them their hair is an "ugly mess" and "needs to be fixed", or their partner who tells them they're not attractive anymore, or the friend who tells them their hair is not "good enough" to wear natural, or the co-worker/supervisor (usually Black) who pulls them aside to say that the higher-ups in the company (usually white) will have a problem with their natural hair, only to find on asking the higher-ups that the thought never crossed their minds. There has indeed been a tradition of Black people trying to neutralize their looks to be acceptable to mainstream (non-black) society. None of us who have older relatives from previous generations and hear the things that sometimes come out of their mouths about hair or colour can deny that. So you see, LW is just saying: Natural hair is fine. You don't have to "fix it". A Black woman's hair does not *need* to look like the hair of women of other races. She is addressing the wider society (especially the Black community) that finds difficulty in accepting Black women with natural hair. However Queen, from your perspective as someone who desires (?) respect and validation from the "culturally conscious" Black community, you are viewing her article as written from a position of exclusivity within that segment of the community, and as positing natural hair as a badge of honour + membership of this exclusive set. I don't think that is the case. There was nothing in the article about naturals being more culturally conscious, afro-centric, whatever. It's useless to ask LW, based on the *particular* path to self acceptance she has taken, to write an article about culturally aware Black women with relaxed hair. You, since you have the advantage of your personal experience, would be much better placed to do so.

Author
setarcos
Date
2006-04-06T14:25:35-06:00
ID
105244
Comment

setarcos, allow me to say BRAVO (completely without sarcasm). That was the most insightful post I've read since I started commenting on this issue and your point is VERY WELL TAKEN. I knew that LW was making a stand to make us aware that NAPPY IS FINE! I took that fine. However, as I stated in an earlier post, elaborating on this idea is what lead to my point of view. I still have my opinion on this issue, it hasn't changed. But I will tell you that, I promise if I were to read this article again after endulging in your post, it would probably mean something very different to me. I won't because I probably know it by hard as many times as I've had to read and re-read it. But still and all, you are right. Be looking out for an article from the QUEEN celebrating black women who celebrate AFRICANISM with perms, fros, braids, weave, mohawks, relaxers, jheri curls (if I can find one), etc... A CELEBRATION OF VARIETY is what it will be called. Coming to beauty salon near you. Again, thanks for that post....take a bow, you've reached the queen!! :-)

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-06T14:35:08-06:00
ID
105245
Comment

Again, that was a GREAT post. I am impressed at the word power you offered there. WOW! I'm shook!!!!!

Author
Queen601
Date
2006-04-06T14:37:26-06:00
ID
105246
Comment

Queen- if you're looking for some culturaly conscious jheri curls- trek on up to Memphis. That's my hometown so I say this with love. :)

Author
urbangypsy
Date
2006-04-06T19:40:50-06:00
ID
105247
Comment

She is trying to validate natural nappy hair. Generally speaking, relaxed hair doesn't need to be validated because relaxed hair is the NORM for Black women. It is what is expected of us. Thank you, setarcos. ((((hug))))

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-06T19:56:27-06:00
ID
105248
Comment

Thought you all may want to look at these: SUSAN L. TAYLOR PROTESTS HAMPTON'S HAIR POLICY: Essence exec against school policy about unacceptable 'braids and dreadlocks.' Canned 'Divorce Court' Judge Cries Racism - Mablean says her hair may have done her in From 2005: Dreadlocks spin heads at ballet...also read the commentary by Thaddeus Matthews. The comments section alone will blow your mind.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-14T22:20:32-06:00
ID
105249
Comment

Oh yeah, Matthews issued a rebuttal the following day, and...well...just read it.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-14T22:22:53-06:00
ID
105250
Comment

Also, here is a picture of the child referred to in the last article.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-04-14T22:45:43-06:00

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