Nappy-Headed… Hair Redux

By Malena Amusa Jun 15, 2007

We got your Nappy-Headed Ho(e) Summer’s here! And for many Black women, it’s a time when the weather’s too hot to tuck a bad-hair-day under a knit-cap, or to wrestle in a steaming salon chair for hours straightening or braiding or texturizing our hair. For us, summer brings back hair talks, and I can promise you, more women will get dramatic cuts to "be through with it all," or long, European weaves "because I just want something that moves in the wind," this summer than any other season. So the moment is fit now to revisit this tangle and the hair politic. Meet blogger Karen Halliburton. She’s dedicated a recent blog to putting Black women’s latest hair trend–long, hair weaves–in context. "Nappy…the other N word," subtitles the blog that has a picture of handcuffs next to a flattening iron at the top, making the blog a virtual campaign for nappy-hair appreciation. This week, I asked Karen to write about the blog that I thought was hysterically blunt, historical and entertaining. At least, it’s the first I’ve seen to deal aggressively with our hair–a symbolic and real site of white privilege’s clash with Black heritage. Karen writes:

I have always been fascinated with Black women’s hair. Because our kink is unlike any other race on the planet. So there’s a positive reason. But how we are ever going to see this, I’m not sure. Especially now as more and more keep their kinkiness on the down low; hiding up under weaves, wigs, and perms. This is why I started my blog – – Politics of Black Hair ….Nappy: the other N word — because Sisters are simply out of control with this fabricated chaos. We’re weaving it to death. Fake fraud perms and hideous hair pieces. Now, mind you, I’m an imposter, too. Presently, I wear my hair in braided extensions. And when I wear my hair without the imitation, it is pressed. I, like many other sisters are perpetuating the Eurocentric standard of beauty – be it long, mock up human hair extensions or make-believe straight hair. We (me included) are wimps when it relates to unlocking the repression and denial…our identity crisis is managing us instead of vice versa. I await the day we stop repressing our…gravity-defying…sun-reaching natural texture. We must embrace our beautiful textured napestry. ‘Cause no matter how hard we try, the kink can not be killed, destroyed or obliterated – every time, it comes back. Indisputably….the kink rules. We just haven’t claimed our crown yet.

Now, I know. Some of you are thinking: here we go again. When are these women gonna leave there hair alone? But I’ll be insistent about this. Black hair is one of the most resilient reflections of our political climate and it has been throughout time. So my question is, when it comes to social change, where do we start– at the root or the tips?