Both inside and outside of the natural hair community, we have shared our thoughts and opinions on the Curly Nikki and Ebony.com debate. Some felt that, well, why do we have to share the same sacred space with people who cannot relate to black women in natural hair? By now, this topic is kind of old. But addressing it is necessary. Avoidance never solves anything; instead, it births bitterness and anger. Before we get into opinions and such, let’s examine what ACTUALLY happened.
The Original Post from Curly Nikki
This post featured a vlogger/blogger by the name of Sarah. At first glance, I thought, “Oh ok so here’s a curly girl that’s being featured.” To be honest, I didn’t think that this was the first time a white girl was featured on Curly Nikki. But I wasn’t sure. I wouldn’t classify myself as a true Curly Nikki Stan, but I do read it from time to time. I visit the site enough to know that they feature A LOT of women with looser curl patterns, so I just brushed it off. Although I dismissed the feature, others in the natural hair community were left feeling a bit salty. Not just angry at the feature, but also at what seems to be a growing trend of white women entering the natural hair space. And I have to say, I totally understand that point of view. But let’s move on to what happened after this post was published.
Social Media Backlash
The featured blogger/vlogger (Sarah) took to Twitter to respond to some of the comments. Yeah, some of the tweets in question are deleted at this point. But I do remember one tweet stating, “It’s Curly Nikki not Black Nikki”. *face palm* No No NO!! Wrong move on Sarah’s part. Most of the exchange on social media was about white women being included in the natural hair movement and the definition of natural hair. (sighs) Listen, I’m all about everyone learning from each other but I feel like people really just don’t get why the natural hair movement was created. People, both black and white, SAY they understand. But I feel that people overlook that the movement was created for community AND healing. The movement isn’t just about hairstyles and the best curling pudding. And to be honest, can we all stop trying to make nice of what “natural hair” actually means? It’s a bit offensive. Arguing the natural hair definition is about as crazy as arguing the “C” in N.A.A.C.P (National Association for Advancement of Colored People). It’s like saying that by definition, all people (including white people) are colored. Therefore, the organization should fight injustice for everyone. You would totally miss the point of why the N.A.A.C.P was even created. So ok, she “jumped bad” at everyone’s reactions and then the whole “inclusion” conversation began.
Ebony.com Article on White Women and Natural Hair
Senior Editor at Ebony.com, Jamilah Lemieux, wrote a piece titled “White Women on #TeamNatural? No, Thanks.” Now this article right here pretty much covers how a lot of people felt about the natural hair movement in general. Unfortunately, Sarah was the highlight of the article but it spoke about deeper issues beyond Sarah’s feature on Curly Nikki. This article discussed how the community is shifting to curly hair and neglecting the kinky hair. It also praised vlogger Jouelzy and 4CHairChick.com for starting a “new” movement to embrace the kinky hair. Sound familiar? Did we not just have the discussion about texture discrimination? Overall, I didn’t feel this piece was offensive. HOWEVER, I can see how both Sarah and Curly Nikki would be offended at their names being brought up in this conversation. Hence the response from Curly Nikki.
Curly Nikki Responds to Jamilah
Nikki Walton felt it was necessary at this point to address the debate at hand, as well as some other beef to which no one was privy. Let’s just say that this response was the most entertaining “read” that day. LOL! Sorry, it was. I felt Nikki really pointed out something very important that we, the natural hair community, have to think on deeply. She said, “…we can’t have popularity without sacrificing privacy.” This is very true indeed when it comes to the natural hair movement. We should all know with the movement gaining notoriety that people from all backgrounds will want to join in the reindeer games.
My problem with her response is when she brought up some old beef with Ebony. I felt it really overshadowed the discussion at hand. But perhaps this may have been the best time to clear the air on her part. I also didn’t like how she made light of Jamillah’s piece by accusing her of trying to get pageviews. That argument is invalid because EVERY website (including Curly Nikki) is trying to gain pageviews whether they admit it or not.
I feel bad that Sarah got caught in the crossfire of this discussion because this was bound to surface whether she was featured or not. I feel white women who do want to join the natural hair movement need to understand that there will be a backlash when you decide to be in the forefront. You see, a white person enjoying the blog posts or videos or even attending a meetup is one thing, but attempting to be the “face” behind the movement will likely bring a negative response. Why, you ask? (sighs) Again, the natural hair movement was created for black women who once felt it was necessary to chemically alter their hair strands to look like white women. The movement provides a space where we can learn to embrace our own hair without relaxers and weaves, instead of lusting after silky straight hair or barely curly hair. So if the FACE of the natural hair movement is now the very face we were trying to break away from, it creates this conflict both internally and externally.
Sarah is not the enemy. We can all agree, yes? Her response, however, was insensitive and fuels the argument of why some Afro textured people are against including white women in the natural hair community. Sarah’s hair story being highlighted in the natural hair community stirs emotions because it reminds us, as African people, of something outside of the natural hair community. She reminds us of policies created against us in schools and the workplace, gentrification (a current situation), jazz, and white faces with braids on the runway. She reminds us of why the A.M.E church was even created as well as the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc. aka Black Baptist. It’s not about excluding white women, it’s about creating a space specifically for people who were already excluded in mainstream.
We want people like Sarah to join in (just like the NAACP, churches and other organizations) but we are terrified of her becoming the FACE of our sacred space. We don’t want her face to replace the black face of the movement. As people of color, our face is erased from so much of our own creativity it is sickening to us. Meanwhile, the white face remains intact in other spaces. I don’t have all the answers like Sway does, but I think it is important that white people understand the depth of our pain when entering into our space. Instead of white people feeling entitled, just RESPECT our experiences and points of view. Respecting may also include biting your tongue… A LOT. Perhaps this situation offers just a glimpse to white people of what black people experience everyday.
There were so many powerful responses on this matter that I think everyone should view. Feel free to add your favorite response videos and blog posts in the comment section below.
Jouelzy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Iaz97AWuvE
For Harriet’s Kimberly Foster : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lFmsIbdPxs
Franchesca Ramsey and twitter screenshots: http://blog.franchesca.net/page/12
Kathleen B: http://curlsandblossoms.blogspot.com/