The Nappiness Problem…

2013-05-13 11.15.37

Afro State of Mind:

Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl

Excerpt: Chapter 1

A Nappy Headed Black Girl Discovers the Nappiness Problem

The following is an excerpt from chapter one. Enjoy!

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…My young sense of cultural pride was battered by consistent exposure to images that said White women were the beautiful women, White people were the beautiful people and their hair was beautiful hair. I loved reading about my history, but when it came to how I looked—I still wanted “good” hair more than anything else.

I yearned for it.

My hair was thick and classically nappy. The sheer density of it posed a regular challenge for my mother and I hated having to sit still long enough for her to comb it. We had epic battles as I constantly complained and did my best to endure what I considered to be head pulling, brain bleeding torture.

I hated everything from rinsing out the shampoo to detangling and combing out the knots. Combing my hair was a constant struggle and that struggle rarely ended without tears of frustration. As I got older, my hairstyles had two basic tracks: it was either pressed with a hot comb or braided into elaborate cornrow designs…

Getting my hair pressed on Saturday night in time for church on Sunday was always a gamble. The longer I could sit still and endure the heat from that burning, fire hot comb, the straighter, and in my 7-year-old mind, the prettier my hair would be in the end. But on the other hand, the longer I sat praying earnestly for straightened strands of hair that wouldn’t re-kink too quickly, the greater my odds of moving my head in the wrong direction and ultimately getting burned.

I was always happy when my mom finished pressing that last section of nappiness. After all, there is no feeling like the feeling I had as a little nappy-headed Black girl when I saw straight hair on my head. But that happiness was always fleeting and tinged with a hint of sadness. No matter how hard I tried, I knew that as soon as my mother was finished, my straight hair joy would quickly come to an end.

In addition to having very thick and very nappy hair, I could also sweat out a press within a quick 48 hours. Despite my best efforts, and no matter how long I could withstand the agonizing process of getting my hair pressed, my ability to actually wear my hair straight, and enjoy it, was short lived…

I remember racing to the mirror on Sunday mornings to make sure that my kinks were still straight. I diligently fought the “return of the naps” with headscarves carefully tied each night. Like many good Christian nappy-headed Black girls, I prayed earnestly against the three evils— otherwise known as steam, humidity and rain…

While my mom struggled to find a solution to my hair “problem,” she had the opposite experience when she combed my little sister’s hair. My little sister’s hair was as “good” as my hair was “bad.” She had a curl pattern that was more loose, softer and fluffier than mine. It was not quite as curly as “mixed-girl” hair often is. But it was much closer to it than mine ever would be.

My sister had exactly what I wanted. She had “good” hair…

Now my mom did not show favorites and she always spoke words of encouragement to both of us. She did her best to empower us and let us know that no matter what the world would say about us as Black girls——in her eyes we were beautiful.

But despite my mother’’s best efforts, you did not have to be a genius in order to recognize that my sister had something that people in the community around us liked and valued. When they commented on our hair, mine was always ““thick.”” My sister’’s hair was always ““pretty.”” My hair was described with words like ““strong”” while her hair was ““beautiful”” or ““good.”” Her hair was closer to the type of hair the White girls at school had. It was ““easier”” to deal with and that ease further reinforced my belief that ““good”” hair was easy hair.

“Good”” hair was straight and beautiful and long and limp. And it was the kind of hair that I did not have…

That’s when I discovered the “Nappiness” problem…

Afro State of Mind:

Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl

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Challenging our beliefs about Black hair, skin color, identity & race.

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About Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.

Comments

  1. Victoria says:

    I can not wait to buy your book. I will be ordering this week and thank u.

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