Commentary: Natural Hair Sorority Misses the Mark on Sisterhood

Commentary: Natural Hair Sorority Misses the Mark on Sisterhood

New "sorority" Pi Nappa Kappa wants to unite Black women over their love of natural hair, but shouldn’t we all love ourselves regardless of the texture?

Published August 31, 2011

(Photo: Natural Hair Sorority & Fraternity)

A new “sorority” has popped up for Black women. They have a mission, a hand sign, and even a few hundred members to boast, but what draws them together is their love for natural hair.

Pi Nappa Kappa is a natural hair "sorority" formed by natural hair authority Leola Anifowoshe just a few weeks ago. The sorority is part of the Natural Healthy Hair Society, which is also run by Anifowoshe. According to its Facebook page, the organization’s mission is “to educate, inspire and uplift natural hair women, men, boys and girls throughout the entire world” and “to make the word 'nappy' into a 'happy' and celebrated term.”

Awesome intentions but, to be honest, I am anxiously anticipating the day when Black women have gotten over the natural hair craze. Why? Because it shouldn’t be a craze, a fad or even a movement. Our appreciation of the hair that grows from our follicles (whatever the texture) should be second nature; it's hardly a topic of debate and should be a personal choice that is not loaded with commentary about our self-worth. And it will only get to that place if we stop obsessing.

I cut off my relaxed hair at the age of 15 when I looked in the mirror and realized that battling with chemicals and products to make my hair something it wasn’t didn’t make any logical sense. And, just to be real, it also coincided with a fight I was having with my mother about not being taken to the salon often enough and having to deal with my “roots” alone.

This was over 10 years ago — before ladies were all abuzz about their big chop or swapping stories about what $45 emulsion they splurge on to take care of their hair. Back then, I was happy to share a short conversation with another Black woman who wore her hair the same way or who had aspirations of wearing her natural texture. Now, trips to the store for hair products are exercises in dodging the glances of women eager to spark up half-hour long conversations about how I style my hair which, to be honest, doesn’t always look that great. I would love to have a friendly conversation with a Black woman that didn’t revolve around our hair obsession and maybe just have a chat because we both recognize our bond as Black women.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that Black women are deciding to wear their natural hair textures in increasing numbers, and that we are turning around negative connotations about natural hair and the words used to describe it, but bingeing on how naturally amazing we are anyway is sure to create a natural hair hangover that I don’t want to be forced to experience.  Furthermore, who says straight hairstyles are bad? Aside from relaxers having harmful and possibly carcinogenic chemicals in them, if a Black woman wants to straighten her hair, she shouldn’t be made to feel like she has "sold out" or that she somehow has less pride in her Blackness.

"My biggest concern is that the women we're here to serve are the same ones trying to tear us down. I welcome women with relaxed hair to join the conversation and attend our events to see that we're not just talking about hair, but also about being better mothers, eating properly and taking care of ourselves," Pi Nappa Kappa’s Anifowoshe told HuffPost Black Voices.

Anifowoshe’s comments, while appreciated, belie the fact that having a natural hair sorority “naturally” excludes those without natural hair. What are the relaxed women going to do while the rest of the group goes over twisting methods or nut butter brands? Black women absolutely need to unite in sisterhood and support each other in all aspects of life, but how we comb our hair should only be a part of the discussion, not the centerpiece.

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

Written by Naeesa Aziz

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