Friday, August 31, 2012

In Defense of Nappy(ness)!

Awesome Nappy Hair!
Source:  http://jennilovette.tumblr.com

I've been thinking about the word nappy. Actually, I've been thinking about it for a long time. At one time I had named this blog, "Nappy, The Other N Word". The word nappy for some is strictly verboten, as much so as that other N word is. However, the word nappy's connotation is not one that has roots in racism and slavery.

Nappy has mainly been used as an insult by other blacks to other blacks and while one could argue that the reason for that insult is rooted in racism (intra-racism, I'd say) it's one that is usually used as a personal attack by someone who looks like you, rather than someone of another race. Certain blogs will have featured "Hair Inspirations" and nothing gets my goose than someone stating that their hair is "not nappy" as if saying that means that their hair is worthy or "good". [QUOTE: My hair was never coarse or “nappy” as some people say...] I've even argued with someone that said I was "jealous" because I pointed out that them saying their hair wasn't "nappy" was inappropriate. That same person then argued with me about nappy being a word and asking "what is a nap".

Merriam Webster’s definition of nappy is (see kinky) Kinky’s is “closely twisted or curled”.   Definition of Nap (noun): a hairy or downy surface (as on a fabric) Etymology: Middle English noppe, from Middle Dutch, flock of wool, nap
First Known Use: 15th century.

The word nappy is not pejorative in and of itself, but for a lot of small minded black people it is. Many people have embraced the word nappy because in many other contexts it does not have a negative connotation, i.e the POPULAR NATURAL WEBSITE NAPPTURALITY. It’s offensive TO ME that someone would use nappy in a pejorative sense because it’s BLACK PEOPLE who are usually using it in that sense to down other blacks, i.e. Niki Minaj “Nappy Headed Ho”.

Unfortunately there will still be some blacks who use nappy as a sword as seen just this week on the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Reunion when one character who has a naturally curly hair texture attacked another by saying "do something with [her] nappy ass hair".  The irony of that is that the woman she was attacking has NEVER been shown on the show without a straight weave, so I assume that she is talking about her natural hair, i.e. the hair under the weave.  Because nappy will always be in some's minds as inferior to curly, wavy, or straight (i.e. closer to a non-black aesthetic) hair.

I hope that we can restore nappy to it's neutral state as a simple hair descriptor and not as a euphemism for "bad hair" or "unkempt hair" and it all starts with us.  For those who don't understand the history of our hair I reccomend reading Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America  and if you have a child or children Happy to Be Nappy (Jump at the Sun) , Nappy Hair (Dragonfly Books) or I Love My Hair!  



1 comment:

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