Nappy Hair and Negroes: The Word With A Long History
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Nappy Hair and Negroes: The Word With A Long History

Black People Just Have Nappy Hair...

Nappy Hair and Negroes: The Word With A Long History
Brad Wilson

"...[B]lack people just have nappy hair," were the words that more or less took my breath away. Hearing that said so nonchalantly, by someone that I consider to be a close friend hurt, but it also opened my mind and got me thinking. Now, maybe more context should be given about the actual conversation that was had but quite honestly, I'm not sure how to articulate it in a way that would make sense. What I know for a fact, is that the comment was not made out of a place of malice but from a place of genuine ignorance of the history of the term.

This friend is a non-Black, male, person of color. I say this to say that though, we both sit at the intersection of being people of color, we, in no way, have the same life experiences. It is highly unlikely that he has ever had to know or learned the history of the word "nappy" and what it means in the context of Black people. Essentially, it's my belief that many other POC just use it, at face value, as a word that means unkempt or undone. I felt that it was my job to explain the context of why that word is hurtful but I found myself falling short of the best way to say it. Instead, I found an excerpt from an article that explained it clearly,

"Nappy as a term has a history rooted in the subordination of black beauty. For centuries it was spat with the same malevolence as the other N-word we know so well. And much like that other word, it was only the reclaiming of the term by blacks that made its use acceptable once more."

As this excerpt points out, this word has been reclaimed and we see that in popular songs such as "Juju on that beat" where the artist says, "skinny jeans on and you know my hair nappy." However, I personally, I can't help but cringe whenever I see anyone dance to that part. I certainly am not in the number of people who have reclaimed the term. I don't have anything against them; I am just simply not there (yet).

After this conversation with my friend, I went on trying to find an official definition for this term, I didn't. The closest thing "officially" that I found was the definition for "Afro-textured" hair which basically defines natural hair, this further troubled me.

My natural hair is a part of me. It is something that I take pride in and that contributes to the magic of my Black girl-ness. It would be an untruth for me to say that I didn't feel self-conscious for the rest of that day. No matter how hard I tried, those words just kept playing over and over in my head on a loop.

Though I know he meant no harm by it, all I could think was, "Gosh, how long has he thought about ME like that?" And in my head that translated to "how long have I just been another nappy headed friend?" In a sense, I felt devalued and even ugly.

What I want to know is where this discrimination between minorities stems from? Is it internalized racism that we have been socialized to believe? It isn't as if tearing each other down will give us the euro-centric qualities and features that are the norm in Western culture. It isn't as if it makes any of us better than the other, so why do it? Wouldn't it be better to unite? Don't WE have more in common? I think that if more POC were to look deeper into history, they'd find out that we are more alike than not and it would be easier to recognize and celebrate our differences opposed to belittling one another for them.

What do you all think? Am I making something out of nothing? Tweet me @ThePiersenElise and let me know your take on the term "nappy" and how it relates to other POC!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Everyone's been here. And, truthfully, it sucks. But in order to move on and get past something you need to allow yourself to feel it for what it is--all of the heartbreak and pain--and then you can start to take steps move on.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Christmas season is coming to an end, but it's not too late to get some last-minute movies in! Unfortunately, this year didn't look like a typical Christmas. While we can't have any big Christmas parties or family gatherings, we can still celebrate at home! Christmas is the best time for nostalgia, and we could all use some warm and fuzzy feelings as we wrap up a tough year and enter a new one that hasn't been proven any calmer, either.

As a kid who grew up in the 2000s, I can think of some of my favorite staple Christmas movies. If you're looking for recommendations or just a walk down memory lane, check out the list below.

Keep Reading... Show less

As we enter the new year, you might be looking for a great show to kick-off 2021. Look no further, I have the perfect recommendation. "The Wilds" was released on Amazon Prime last month and has been gaining traction steadily since then. This series of 10 one-hour episodes tells the stories of eight girls who find themselves on a deserted island after their plane crashed while they are on their way to a resort. Unlike other survival shows, there's a bit more to the story than what first meets the eye. This show is unique in characters, storytelling methods, and plot.

If you aren't convinced yet, allow me to provide you with a list of further persuasion.

Keep Reading... Show less

10 Things TikTok Made Me Buy, And Now My Life Is So Much Better

Where would I be without my Revlon hair dryer or CeraVe skin products?! Thanks, TikTok.


TikTok is a great way to see what products are trending. People are sharing tips and tricks about items that they use to make their life happier, healthier, or just easier.

Keep Reading... Show less

Online classes and virtual reality in general have been the staple of 2020. One day in March, everything shut down and we all had to learn how to work, teach, study, do therapy, and take classes remotely without much preparation. So, it's been a roller-coaster experience, and definitely not what we expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

11 TV Characters Who Are Irritating BEYOND Belief

Maybe they never really did anything seriously wrong, but oh my god they are annoying af.


Have you ever been watching your favorite show, all comfortable and relaxed, and then that one character that you just can't stand pops up on the screen and ruins your mood? I know I certainly have. These characters aren't necessarily evil or horrible people, but they do have personalities that make them incredibly irritating. They're the kind of characters that make you want to yell at the writer, "what the hell were you thinking with this one?" Perhaps they have never hurt a fly, but it doesn't matter since their character just straight-up sucks.

By the way, some of my arguments contain spoilers, so fair warning.

Keep Reading... Show less

20 Songs You Should REALLY Add To Your Winter Playlist

Watch the snow gently falling out your window and put these songs on to get in the winter mood.


For the majority of these songs, I can't really explain why, but they remind me of winter. Maybe it's their slow pace, their magical synth sounds, or their melancholy lyrics, but all of these songs give me winter vibes. If you're looking to add some songs to your winter playlist, give these ones a listen.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments