As many curly-headed peeps, I enjoy reading Curly Nikki from time to time. Her advice is helpful, the variety of writers and readers provide a well-balanced community from which to draw, and I find her writing style to be funny and easy to follow. I never thought much about the fact that many members of this community were black women, and I also never thought to even comment or draw attention to it; if you have hair that’s similar, and reacts similarly, then who gives a damn about things like that?
Nikki also feels the same way. Her community, like several other online hair communities, regularly features readers as ‘Curl Icons’ – people (typically women) with curly hair, what their routine is, and their hair journey. Nikki featured Sarah, who has naturally curly hair; the majority of the comments underneath are supportive, positive, and downright awesome – what I come to expect from the Curly Hair Community.
However, an article posted on Ebony.com by Jamilah Lemieux – entitled, “White Women on #TeamNatural? No, Thanks” – provides the opinion that the Black Hair Movement does not need to be racially diverse. She (at times, quite poignantly) argues that too much focus is placed on ‘curly’ hair, which is not the typical curl type in natural hair communities; rather, kinky/coily hair is the primary focus. She argues not only that more attention deserves to be given to coily hair, but also that:
Hair is emotional territory for many Black women and while we may be able to share products with White women, we needn’t share a movement that should be centered on overcoming the unique challenges that are thrown our way because of White people.
This article is well written and does provide some thoughtful points; perhaps from my biased perspective, however, it feels hostile and goes against much of what I feel websites like Curly Nikki stand for. Even more interesting was the fairly consistent and vehement support of the writer, as displayed in the comments section at the bottom. Nikki, ever the outspoken woman, responded with an equally aggressive post, relaying the fact that she never created her website with a ‘Black Only’ intention; she acknowledges the importance of creating safe spaces but also comes down hard on the side of inclusion in the hair community. She states,
Success in the natural hair movement is defined by the total acceptance of our hair by ourselves, and then ultimately, others. I and other bloggers have been working hard to make the natural hair movement popular. It’s obvious now that our impact on the hair care industry and popular culture has been tremendous. Generally, this has led to good outcomes like a crap load more product options, and a warmer reception among friends, family and colleagues. Without popularity, none of this would have been possible. However, we can’t have popularity without sacrificing privacy. Is it worth the trade? Hmmm…who knows. As a practical matter, what I do know, is that it is difficult to try to make something popular and accepted by not sharing it with others. #WhereTheyDoThatAt
She also goes on to strongly indicate that this whole mess was perhaps created to stir the pot and generate some page views, of which I have no doubt. However, it did leave me with some interesting questions, and a viewpoint that I hadn’t previously explored.
I was curious to ask you all – black, white, curly-haired or otherwise: what do you think of Jamilah’s and Nikki’s arguments? Are these issues that you have come across before? Should the Natural Hair Community be a separate entity from the Curly Hair Community, or should it be inclusive? I honestly find this to be a fascinating area and am always open to opinions on both sides of the coin.
Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond!