Should the Natural Hair Movement Be Exclusive to Black Women?

So, if you stay in the loop with the virtual natural hair community you may have caught wind of the controversy circulating around the latest blog entry on the popular blog Curli Nikki.

The new article was  the usual “embracing your texture” topic but.. it was written by a white woman.

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Her name is Sarah or also known as Waterlilly716, her YouTube channel name.

She goes on to talk about how accepting her curly hair has been difficult. As a white woman, straight hair is seen as the ideal and she felt pressured to straighten her hair to fit in with her peers. When asked if she did the big chop she explains that she simply just let her hair down from her bun. She later encourages women with textured hair to embrace their natural hair.

This of course sparked backlash from black women all over social media. The view on this blog entry has been conflicted. Most feel that the natural hair movement should be exclusive to black women and some feel that we should accept women of other races, struggling with accepting their hair texture into the movement.

So, I know you’re asking how do feel about this?

Um…

Hm….

Okay, listen. I’m all for diversity. My family jokes and calls my gang of friends the “rainbow coalition” because my friends come in different colors, shapes, sizes, orientations. You name it, I got it in my group of friends. I also say that I do have white girlfriends who have curly hair and have told me about the pressures they feel to straighten their hair as well but the difference between them (and part of the reason why I’m friends with them) is that they know how to stay in their lane. They understand that their struggle with their curly hair is in no comparison to the flack black women get about our hair.

A lot of people from the outside looking in say that black women are being overly-sensitive about letting white women into the natural hair movement. Black women are accused of being racist (LOL *rolls my eyes*) and prejudicial for not allowing white women into the natural hair movement. No one has cared to understand why black women feel the way we do.

The reason behind the natural hair movement is that black women with natural hair were not getting enough representation. You look on TV and other platforms of mass media, hair ads are tailored towards women with silky, straight hair–white women. Even in music videos–especially rap videos–you don’t see women with afros. You see women with long European hair or women with loose, big, bouncy curls aka “good hair.” We wanted to create our own space. So then the natural hair movement was born through various blogs, Youtube channels, books, websites which taught black women, first, how to take care of their natural hair and how to embrace and accept our hair. This space was where we as black women with natural hair could be ourselves, share findings and revelations about our hair. A place to call ours.

I’m not denying that non-black women get criticism about their hair. I’m aware that hair with texture is typically frowned upon but to try and compare the struggle black women with natural hair go through to non-black women with textured hair is unnecessary. White women with curly hair do not receive criticism about their hair to the same magnitude that black women get about our natural hair. At all.

First off, the flack that black women get towards our hair is historical. For centuries, we have been taught to hate our hair.

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We have been told our hair is “nappy”, it looks “untamed”, it’s “ugly”, the list really goes on. Almost every black woman has been subjected to the infamous flat iron or relaxer, at an early age, in attempts to straighten their natural hair to fit into white supremacist’ ideals. Black women, historically, have hid their hair in wigs, weaves, harsh chemicals in hopes to be left alone and accepted. Black women have to re-consider wearing their natural hair out because they fear they’re going to lose their job. Many black women have been fired from their jobs for rocking the hair that naturally comes out their scalp or they’re told to “make it tame or presentable” by their employers. Black women who decide to go natural, even get slander from other black people. A good number of black men say they couldn’t date a black women with natural hair because it’s not their “preference”. I’ve even heard some black men say, “I hate those tight ass afros” or “She needs to comb her hair” or “I can’t date a girl who has the Z pattern” meaning 4C hair, the kinkiest hair. Little black girls who wear their natural hair have been threatened with expulsion or suspension from school for wearing her hair out. Black women with natural hair are often told that “not everyone can go natural” because apparently if your hair is long and curly, it’s acceptable to be natural but if your hair is kinky, you need to reconsider being natural (Do you hear my sarcasm? I hope so.). Even the military has taken it in their hands to tell black women how to “appropriately” wear our hair:

It may not say that it’s directly towards black women but let’s not be naive. This is definitely targeted towards black women seeing as they focused on hairstyles that black women typically wear: cornrows, braids, twists, our loose hair. Black women all over have been afraid to go natural because they’re afraid of what the outcome may be and what criticism they’ll receive. Time and time again, I have other black girls tell me they “wish they could pull off the natural look” as if the hair they were born with is a “look” or a “trend.” There’s even division within the natural hair community in regards of texture discrimination: women with looser, multi-racial hair getting more representation and praise than women with kinky hair.

In essence, what I’m really trying to say is well… BLACK WOMEN GET A LOT OF SHIT FOR OUR NATURAL HAIR THAT WE WERE BORN WITH.

You mean to tell me a white girl with curly hair can relate to all of that?

For a white girl to come and tell me, a black woman with natural hair, to accept my hair is a slap to the face. The same person whose ancestors told my ancestors their hair was unruly and still do to this day. Right. No, she may not get as much representation for her hair as a white girl with straight hair but her hair is still seen as an ideal. Largely, her hair is still seen as acceptable. She’s not going to get fired from her job, turn away from, or frowned upon for taking down her damn bun. Let’s get real.

To even compare a black woman’s big chop to a white girl taking her bun down is a slap to the face too. A big chop for most black women is the start of a new journey. It’s emotional and brave. It’s something that most people talk them out of. Black women have fallen out of relationships for big chopping their hair. So again, you’re telling me a non-black woman with curly hair who one day woke up and took her bun down can relate to that? TUH.

But you know what… people shouldn’t really be surprised by this stunt Curli Nikki pulled because it’s not owned by Nikki Watson anymore. It’s owned by a white-owned media company who realizes that the natural hair movement is taking over and it’s profitable investment. Nikki is just the face they plaster onto the website to bring in black women who give the company revenue. Even in the about section for Curly Nikki, it doesn’t make it clear that it’s solely for black women with natural hair. It just says it’s a place for “hair therapy.”

The point of the matter is that Curli Nikki is not a space for black women like it might have been in the past. And to answer the question of do I believe the natural hair movement should be exclusive to black women? Yes. Yes, I do. Black women need a space where we can be one and whole with ourselves. That goes for any other minority: Latinos, Asians, people who are represented little to never. It’s not being racist. It’s surviving. I saw a tweet that negates the “black women being racist for not letting Sally, Sue, and Britney in the natural hair movement” that said: “It’s not racist for a marginalized group to find their own space. It’s called survival.” What she means is, it’s not anything personal white people but why should we accommodate you when you hardly ever accommodate us? For once why can’t we have something without non-blacks appropriating it? That’s what kills me about black people sometimes: we’ll accommodate white people but they hardly return the favor. We don’t owe them anything.

It’s our hair. It’s our culture. We should be in charge of it logically. White women–curly or straight hair–get enough representation as is. LET US BE GREAT TOO MAN.

There’s nothing wrong with non-blacks supporting black women on our natural hair journeys but to compare your struggle with ours is out of line. To try to invade our space that we made for us because we were being marginalized and ignored is not cool. It’s like a “I know your grandma died but my goldfish died too. I can relate too” thing ya’ll got going here.

I’m not racist. This is not a “my problem is bigger than your problems” per se. This is a “STAY IN YO LANE.”. I salute any woman who embraces her natural beauty, white women with textured hair included but Black women with natural hair need our own space that should be by black women and for black women. We need it. It’s vital. It’s important.

It’s survival.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. awomynsworth says:

    Thanks for the post. I think Curli Nikki can put whatever she wants on her blog because it’s hers… but no– white women do NOT need to be in the natural hair movement because their hair (whether it’s curly or straight) is everywhere. In every magazine, in every TV show, in every movie. You hardly find natural hair in the mainstream. Its few and far between. Yes, some non-black women do have their struggles with extra curly—but its not a historical struggle. It’s not tied to colonization, self-hate, and desire to not look like yourself

    White women dont tell one another, “you have that good hair,” when theyre referring to someone whose naps are as tight as some other peoples.

    Letting your hair out of a bun is not the same as torturing your hair so its bone straight so you can look like someone in a magazine.

    The natural hair movement is about embracing hair that has been called ugly for centuries. And white women cant always relate to that.

    Anyways. Great post. I’m glad you did one on it now I feel I should write my own 🙂

    1. delafro says:

      Yesss! Totally agree 100%

  2. Amirah B says:

    YES. This is a cultural experience. Every other culture in the world has things exclusive to their culture and its not a problem. So this is not a problem that we have what is an experience that is exclusive to us be exclusively ours. Great post sis!

    Peace,
    Amirah
    http://www.AmirahBFreeBlog.com

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