Sunday, August 18, 2013

A stranger asked me a question: "Is it racist to use the term Nappy Hair?"

Nappiology dfw, a local Non- profit that celebrates and educate on "Nappy Hair" 

I love this shirt for a few reasons, primarily because its comfortable!! Most of the time I forget what it reads. Saturday my hubby and I decided to tour our own city... (that was a great idea btw, we should do it more often!) 

Clyde Warren Park In  Dallas

As I was waiting on my food at one of the food trucks I was approached by  a male of the opposite race, and he carefully asked me  "I just want to know, is it racist to say that someone has Nappy Hair or to use the word Nappy?"   I must admit I was a bit caught off?? Until I remembered what I was wearing! 

  It's funny because this question wasn't as clear cut to answer for me as I thought it would have been? I knew that I really could not answer for all black people with this hair texture?  So I said, "I guess it depends how you say it and why you said it? Only you know what your motives are for using the word. I also said, it also depends on who you say it too!"  I also went on to describe to him what our hair texture really is as it grows out of our scalps. Many people have  misunderstood our hair type, even us!  I told him its a real hair texture and not something that is matted and not groomed or maintained.

Pomp and Pony

 I rarely  use the word "nappy" to describe kinky or tightly coiled hair, but I also don't really have a problem with the word. I do know that a lot of African Americans do have a problem with it, and many in the Natural Hair Community do not.  So I believe this is why I wasn't sure how to answer him initially. 

I believe the origins of the word is racist.  However, many African Americans use the word to define "bad" hair or naturally kinky hair also. So its almost like, we can say it, but they can't?(sounds familiar) Idk just my take on it. 

Twist out

When I was growing up it was definitely considered negative in our community and in our homes.  And as an adult I've experienced it as being negative but not necessarily racist.  Now days, with the ever growing natural hair movement among African American women,  it has caused people to look at the word a lot differently. Many are embracing the word "nappy hair", but at the same time I know the word still brings up hurtful memories and negativity for some and they don't want their hair referred to as "nappy."  So when unsure I  wouldn't use it to describe any one's hair but my own.  

So, How would you have answered this curious stranger?          


nappy headed black girl said...

My easy answer for anyone who has to ask that question is...if you have to ask, don't use it lol

Do I find it demeaning? Nope. Do I use it? Yep, but never to describe someone else's hair as I know how sensitive we are about it.

I've never thought it was a "bad" word. It accurately describes my hair and many others.

BTW, where'd you but that shirt? I love it.

Cheleski of The Knotty Truth said...

I personally embrace it-but I dont use it loosely bc it's a hotbed of controversy. BTW I love how ya'll do nappy in Dallas. Dee is the bomb and ya'll have a gr8 group!

Chan said...

@Nappy Headed Black girl, Yes I think that is a short and smart answer! I think overall he was just curious.

I'm assuming he hasn't used it on anyone! Lol

I purchased the shirt at our Nappiology Expo that we have in Dallas every year. She has a website You can ask if she sells them online. I would be surprised if she didn't!

Chan said...
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Chan said...

Cheleski I understand what you mean about not using it loosely, I feel the same way which is why I had to gather my thoughts a minute before I answered him. I will use it to describe my hair from time to time but its not negative? But I do know some women don't want their hair referred to as such so you know I keep the description for my head only when using the word.

Yes Dee is so nice and she's very humble. Her organization has really grown! She does things all year round and then one large Expo every Fall.