Wednesday, 9 July 2014

#teamnatural is for everyone

If you don't already know the story you have been living under a rock. However, if you don't here is the bite sized version. A white reader featured on curly nikki, some black readers raise hell saying she should never have been featured and the piece was a mockery, ebony mag writer says #naturalhair spaces should be kept free of white people, 1 BGLH writer essentially agrees explaining why exclusivity is not racism, I as another BGLH writer disagree and say all people should be welcome because the principle of excluding a race is exactly what apartheid supports.

On BGLH the vocal majority was and is clearly for exclusion. I dance to the beat of my own drum and there is a small yet clear voice who do agree with me that we should not exclude anyone. Having the loudest voice does not mean it is the most applicable, most intelligent or makes the most sense. It just means x number of people agree with you while y either disagree or have no opinion either way.

Some regular cross readers have left many comments on my own blog that I have chosen not to publish, not because they are not publication worthy but because they are being left on posts that have nothing to do with the subject. I am therefore creating this post for the purpose of those who feel that they want to comment on the issue.

Honestly in my view, this issue has been beaten to a pulp! Why are we subscribing to the Dubya mentality of, 'You are either with us or against us?' The truth is much more genteel.... Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We can agree to disagree.

So if you have something to say, say it, if you are bored already, go check out some older posts :)

54 comments:

  1. I totally agree that #teamnatural should be for everyone who needs help. I’m so over the mentally of our people sometime thinking we should exclude ANY race because we get the most hate and flack. Even with our natural hair movement, the most people that give out the most hate is not the other race, but our very own people, so I don’t get the deep resentment of the people that don’t want any other race to join team natural.

    Not only black people deal with extremely curly hair so I really don’t get why team natural sudden became a black power movement. I said it in Instagram and I’m saying it here. It seems the team natural community seems to be losing the whole purpose of why it was started. It was started to educate anyone that wants to go natural, and if it veer of that path, then what is the point? Team Natural for everyone I say.

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    1. Thank you...very well stated. The most hurtful comments I get are from family members.

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  2. Kreyola totally agree. I think that those who want to muddle hair and politics/race are perfect entitled to and can form a logical argument as to why this is the case. I just happen to disagree and feel that people who are here to talk about and learn about hair should do so, regardless of race.

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  3. Thank you Kreyola for putting in words what I have been thinking since this whole issue started.

    And by the way, dear commentors who will call me a black person seeking white affirmation for thinking this: I believe we as women all have to unite and fight against this non-existent standard of beauty that is being forced upon all women of all races. All women are made to feel that what they are born with isn't quite right, and they have to adjust themselves temporarily or permanently to meet this unattainable standard. Lets stop being divided and unite so that girls in the years to come can love themselves the way they are

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    1. The thing is that we will fight to try to help all women, but will white women fight to help black women it they are not going to benefit? There are so many things that ww have that exclude bw. So why are we made to feel guilty for wanting a space to ourself. The natural hair community is not just about styling our hair. it is also about embracing our natural hair despite the negativity we may face. and even if a few ww may have faced some negativity towards their natural hair it is not the same as it is for bw and it is not as prevalent. we created this community for out selves without their help support input or encouragement, to help, support, embrace and uplift each other as Black Women. Why can't we have this. Why cant we be selfish.

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    2. Yes, the children, because I defy anybody to show me the three year old girl who can rightly be blamed for the unreasonable and unfair things that some people have done and still do to each other because of race in this world, or the five year old girl who will grow up better off if she repeatedly hears "You can't do that, because you are a girl.", until she ends up believing it. I do believe that in some parts of the world race and oppression because of race is relevant to acceptance of natural hair (and skin tone, and other features), but I don't think it is the only thing for everyone, and it is the children who suffer most when the grown ups get it wrong.

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    3. Hi Anonymous, this is Yvette... If we want to create a space where we want to be selfish, maybe we should look for another term. Because team natural means embracing yourself the way God created you, Black, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, whatever. Team natural means being happy with all you have and not altering yourself in order to make society happy. So at the moment team natural includes every race and ethnicity on the globe.

      If we as black women want our own space, we should make it specific to us. Like Black Girl Long Hair, when you show up there, you know its a black woman space. Or Long Hair Care Forum which states that it is a resource for women of colour. But a neutral space like team natural should welcome everyone IMO.

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    4. Hello! Anon again. The thing is that Black women did start the natural hair movement for so why should we have to be specific.

      Native American have their reservations, Asian Americans have their own communities were they own and run their own businesses which they cater to their needs and wants. And so do Caucasian for the most part.

      I get what you are saying but i still feel that this is our community and i think it is important and okay to persevere it for ourselves. I am not good with word some may i am coming of as uncouth.
      Here is a link to the comments JC BGLH #team natural (scroll down to -Victoria Owl JULY 5, 2014 AT 11:51 PM- post) i thing that she express, if not well at least better, what i am trying to say. I'm not trying to be hateful, although i may be somewhat bitter, i just feel we should be able to share without giving up what we Black women work to build. Thank you for your reply and I could be wrong but that is how i feel right now.

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    5. Anon I thought I had responded to your comment before but it is not there, so here is my response.

      I do not believe in being selfish. I set up this blog to share information free of charge. I choose not to monetise it with advertising so that the prominence is given to information. I believe in free and open exchange. I cannot ever exclude anyone or any group .

      Our recent history shows that black people and women have been excluded until they fought for the right to be at the table and for many parts of the world, this is still a daily struggle. This is why for me, turning around and doing the same is not acceptable.

      I don't think you are hateful or bitter, I understand what you are saying, I just do not agree with it.

      Side note : Native American reservations at a time were actually used to force these groups off other land so that it could be used by the government, the situation is much more complicated but we are going off tangent here :)

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  4. I agree with you Jc and CurlyNikki herself, there is no need for exclusion. And to Yvette's point about beauty standards, when was the last time anyone saw a white woman with curly hair on the cover of a magazine? Not CURLED hair, but naturally curly hair? You don't because they too are excluded from the "beauty standard" and have also spent years and thousand of dollars trying to transform their curly hair to straight to meet that impossible standard. So seeing them want to embrace their natural curls rather than trying to change/conform them to me is no different than a black woman's natural hair. Its not a political statement, its just hair and curls just like everything else come in all shapes, sizes and COLORS.

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    1. It is the problem that some of us have really not politicized our hair while for others the two are just entwined for eternity. I just do not want my hair politicized for me :)

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  5. PLEASE stop comparing this to apartheid. That is very disrespectful to those who endured it or fought to end it. Seriously?

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    1. I choose my words very carefully, always Ms. D. It is not an exaggeration by any means for me.

      The proposal as I understand it - white people should not be featured or even think that they have natural hair simply because they are white. This proposal is aiming to segregate and discriminate on the basis of skin colour. Let me qualify that statement. Segregate - Views and features from black people are welcome, features from white people are not. Discriminate - The reason white people are not welcome is purely because they are white. The fact that they have shared hair related issues or texture is irrelevant, they are white therefore they are not welcome.

      If you cannot see the parallels of the proposed ideas with the principles of apartheid, that is a little troubling to me. I use a serious word for a serious situation. In this event, I felt that there was a vocal and racist view being propagated as a uniformly 'black view' and I absolutely had to be the voice for the minority who do accept those views.

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    2. The reference to apartheid that I saw referred only to the principle of people being separated according to their race, it did not include any comparison at all to human suffering endured during any actual instance of applied apartheid, (the word means "separateness", which is clearly relevant to the issue here). The point of the reference was that if anyone thinks the principle is wrong, then that cannot change on account of which race is advocating it, because if someone does advocate the principle of apartheid if a particular race is suggesting it, but they object if a different race suggests it, that person clearly has no objection to the principle.

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    3. Omiss you could not have explained it better. Frankly my style of writing is intended to be clear and unambiguous. If someone is looking for a hidden meaning, there isn't one!

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  6. My white neighbour has naturally curly hair which I saw as really beautiful. I never realized she didn't like the way her hair looked until she told me that she would always use straighteners to make it appear straight.

    I 'naturally' assumed that the natural vs straight hair issue only affected the black race. It is nice to know that other races have their struggles accepting their own hair, hair that I previously assumed perfect.

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    1. This makes me remember when I was in University and one of my friends who is Asian was so certain that the girl (white) seating in front of us in the lecture theatre had styled her hair with curling tongs. I looked at the girl and she was in a grubby t-shirt and jeans and I thought, hmm although her curls did really look machine perfect, it just did not match the rest of her outfit and so I was not convinced. At the break, we shamelessly asked her and turns out that it was natural but the girl herself said she tried to straighten it out two or three times a week so she could look decent...........

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  7. Je ne vois pas l interet d exclure une femme blanche qui porte ses cheveux naturels, car auparavent les femmes blanches elles aussi portaient tout le temps des perruques deja coiffees d une certaine maniere. Je vois souvent des femmes blanches aux cheveux crepus qui detestent leur cheveux et les lisses tout le temps. Alors oui je suis d accord qu elle taguent #teamnatural sans gene aucune. Pour moi ce terme renvoit tout d abord a l acceptance de ses cheveux dans leur nature.

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  8. 'Pour moi ce terme renvoit tout d abord a l acceptance de ses cheveux dans leur nature.' Moi je dis oui aussi.

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  9. Hi Jc, I followed along with the debate at BGLH and I think you are misrepresenting the overall sentiment which is that it's important to have spaces that focus on Black women and their natural hair. BGLH was pretty clear that they respect other spaces that are for multicultural curly hair but they want to focus on Black women and that is neither exclusive or racist. BGLH also said that other races are welcome to observe, listen and learn but the content will remained focused.

    To be honest, I think your statement would be better directed to mainstream media when it comes to including Black women. Black women are beautiful and we are not represented in many spaces that have no reason to be culturally focused other than Black is "not mainstream" (I'm referring to America).

    Please correct me if I am wrong but you live in the UK so I think that your perspective is clouded by your experiences (not saying it is a entirely bad thing) when it comes to race in America. BGLH is an American based blog and I believe they represented the challenges that Black women especially in America experience.

    Lastly, I think you've been very critical of the opposing side while claiming how critical they are being of you. I think introspection on your own views would have helped you approached this whole subject more analytical which you seem to pride yourself in being. And If you really felt this was beaten to death why write this post? In all seriousness, that aside just came off defensive and dismissive. I think we have different viewpoints but we can both respectfully see the validity of our opposing arguments without just "agreeing to disagree" which is very lazy and pointless really. I think having a separate space for Black women is understandable and fine. I also think other women are welcome to create spaces that include all races. I think wanting to protect language and take ownership of something Black women created is also understandable. I do think there is a threat of appropriation and appropriation of using "natural hair" to White women really doesn't give historical context to where that came from and why it is important. When natural hair for Black women becomes mainstream for women and everyone understands where it comes from maybe then it can expand and change but so many people, White, Black, et al, are woefully uneducated about Black hair. People still think it looks "unprofessional" for goodness sake.

    I really encourage you to learn more about this and not assume there is some sort of loud majority forcing their "exclusivity". And lets be clear, exclusivity is something that has been bred out of privilege which Black women certainly have not had access to when it comes to their natural hair. Finally I have to say, throwing that "Dubya" line really seemed like a tactic to skewer American sentiments but not directly acknowledge it's importance in this discussion and your lack of perspective on it.

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    1. Let me take a systematic approach:

      1. The argument was never about the working principles at BGLH. The core of the debate was about Curly Nikki which really does have a history of placing some white women as hair features. Somehow because this had not happened for a while, people objected which was purely on a race basis in my view. There is no misrepresentation for me to say this was what I observed. I cannot understand why we are discussing BGLH when the furore started at CurlyNikki.

      2. It is very interesting to me how my view as a black woman about black women is dismissed because I am not AA. Is it your implication that only AA women are welcome to have views about natural hair that is actually a global topic? The skewing of lines between hair and politics is very common among some AA women less so in other cultures. I say some because not all women are the same! There are many AA women who agree with me and many who agree with you. There is an active choice to disregard and attempt minimise the opposing point of view. If you need an AA woman to say it, just read the comments here, they are saying it!

      3. I thrive on well thought out critique. To me, if we all just agreed with everything one person said, the world would be dull. This sentence, 'Lastly, I think you've been very critical of the opposing side while claiming how critical they are being of you. ' I have to ask where does this come from? Where exactly have I complained about critique? Leila at BGLH asked me if I was comfortable given the vast number of responses and if I wanted the comments closed. She did this because as the editor it is her responsibility to care for her writers and there are some writers who can be mentally affected by negative responses. I told her to keep the comments open, it is absolutely a debate and I want people to express themselves and I want my view point on record. So please do not accuse me of anything I did not do. If you have a different opinion, it is welcome. I will never ever silence anyone (unless you leave spammy links!) nor will I seek to undermine an opposing view. I do seek debate and if there is something that to me seems not well thought through or morally wrong, I will point it out, no matter what the consequences may be.

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    2. 4. Since you asked, this post is here because as I explained, I have had to delete at least 15 - 20 comments in the past 2-3 days regarding this subject. This is because people felt that they wanted to talk to me directly but had no place to do so. They left comments on the castor oil, coconut oil, unsupportive husband etc posts. I deleted those comments because they are irrelevant to those particular topics. Some people wanted to talk therefore here it is. Who knows, maybe you previously commented too?

      5. Agreeing to disagreeing to me is one of the highest expressions of civility. There comes a point when you purge all your thoughts out and I equally do the same but we reach a stalemate. Creating an exclusive black space will never be racist to you and for me it has very strong racist elements. I have understood the arguments which you have re-outlined here - i.e risk of appropriation, ability to celebrate a culture, ability to have like minded discussions, ability to discuss prejudice and race etc None of these points will change my mind, I am not dismissing them as irrelevant, they are just not morally correct to me and I want inclusive spaces for all the reasons I outlined previously .....not going to rehash that. Somehow, my view is a lack of education ergo yours is one with full perspective? Why can you not say, ok that is your view point, I see its basis but I disagree with it?

      6. You say a lot of blanket statements e.g 'Exclusivity is something that has been bred out of privilege which Black women certainly have not had access to when it comes to their natural hair. ' Do you realise there are black women in USA, UK, Europe, Africa etc who cannot relate to that statement? We are individuals, some people can relate to you, some cannot. I don't understand why that seems like an implausible state?

      7. Actually my Dubya line came from an unpublished comment. There was a reader who referred me to a site where there was an actual black list (pun intended) of twitters, bloggers and vloggers on opposing sides of the view and instructions.......'This is a list of b/vloggers to follow and this is a list of b/vloggers to unfollow. Hurt em in the pocket book'. Maybe it is my sense of humour but I thought that was so hilarious, the knee jerk -you are with us or against us mentality or the idea that all of us are blogging for money.

      8. Your perception is your truth.


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    3. JC, I do think this is just as much about BGLH as CN. BGLH argues for exclusion, and then features a white woman on her site, i guess to talk about why its ok to exclude people like herself. Idiocy in my opinion. She just looked confused to me. How are you gonna say that white people can look but not talk. Dumbest isn!

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    4. I think that BGLH is a forum for all opinions. Leila has a journalistic background so she will let all sides air even if she disagrees with them. To be honest, my view would not have been seen in such a public forum had she not published it. I can however, totally see how it can look hypocritical, I just think the intent behind it was good.

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  10. So, you're saying that I chose the right blog to read! It's nice to know I'm not alone.

    The one thing I can't help thinking, is how a small group of "others" being involved (and it was probably remain a small group) could hurt my experience with natural hair. I don't get it. Seeing articles about ladies with 3b, 4a, etc. hair doesn't upset me an my 4c/4d hair. Seeing ladies with moca or milk chocolate or ebony skin doesn't hurt me and my mahogany skin. So, why would a white person hurt me? I get it on one level, but realistically, it doesn't matter to me. But my momma always taught me that you are responsible for your own happiness.

    Plus, if you're like me with friends and family of a variety of races, you'd know that there are white girls who perm and thin (selectively shave) their hair straight. There are white girls who flat iron their hair for hours each week. There are white girls who perm their hair curly and crimp their hair kinky. Being happy or unhappy with what you are naturally isn't something that's exclusive to black girls. We could all use a dose of team natural.

    And, if some white girls lurking around these websites spreads the word about our hair and that we don't like to be pet and that cornrows aren't for thugs and that daily shampooing isn't required for everyone, etc., the more the merrier.

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    1. lol your last paragraph made me smile. We share the same sentiment :)

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  11. I'm Brazilian and Brazil, like the United States, is an immigrant nation, the only difference is that it´s easier to find individuals with mixed race background in Brazil. My mum is white and my father is black. I have a dark skinned brother with (almost) straight hair and a white sister with very curly and coarse hair. So if we were to follow the rationale that white girls (or men) should not be allowed to express themselves on channels that should be reserved for WOC, my sister shouldn't be allowed to take part on the natural hair movement, because she doesn´t "qualify" as black and the natural hair movement clearly designed to empower black people.

    It makes me very sad to see people who have experienced racism and exclusion all their lives doing the same kind of hurtful and vile (and yes i do classify this type of attitude as vile) things to others. For me the natural hair movement is about being true to yourself no matter what the color of your skin is.

    If we were to be very specific, and take the out of Africa theory as fact, we should call humanity itself as African.

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    1. Thanks for chipping in and I loved reading your thoughts especially on diversity in Brazil. I have seen racism and exclusion with all its ill effects and how it can negatively affect people's ambitions and paths in life. This is the reason why I say regardless of race, let us have a conversation, let us learn together.

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  12. It almost seems to me like AA women somehow feel like they own this 'natural movement' sure i understand it was made popular by a lot of AA women but owning something means absolutely nothing if others cannot benefit from it. Iv seen a lot of arguments that claim 'why can't black women own something without white people trying to take it away from them' and i just stare ... because i keep thinking lets say you get to exclude all white women from this whole natural movement then what?? it doesnt take away the divisiveness that already exists in the natural hair community, it doesnt allow for a broad range of shared experiences, and honestly the world is becoming more diverse. There will be a time when most of the population will be mixed ... is that the time when other races are now allowed??

    What about women now who are black who benefit and relate more to the experiences shared by multi-ethinc or in some instances white people?? should they be excluded as well?

    what about multi-racial/ multi- ethnic people.. should they be excluded as well? I mean is there some type of court or guide book im supposed to look to determine if i am black enough?

    I saw the BGLH article that made reference to other ethnicities owning exclusive websites .. and they were either Hispanic, LGBT, American Indian which are also groups of people with similar ethinicity.. bur hair?? hair is not exclusive to any one race or group of people everyone has it..

    Hair is all hair.. everyone wants to make it into a political statement or movement.. and i understand it holds a different connotation for a lot of black women.. but there are soo many other people out there who face the same issues wether black white brown.. women everywhere are told they are not good enough, they are not pretty enough.. they are not skinny enough.. and now people want to take this whole natural thing and make it yet another way for women to be told they dont belong, they cant be a part of. Not everyone went natural to make a political statement.. some did it just to get heatlhy hair..


    If it was a mixed woman with 4C hair who was in that interview would the back lash have been the same? I doubt it. I think the lady in that article was out of line in soo many aspects but that doesnt mean her actions suddenly mean a whole race of people should be excluded..

    Im entirely over it..

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    1. You are right, I'm over it too :) To be honest, I have actually seen naturals go ape over a black natural. Yagazie Emezi was featured on BGLH and she said in that interview that she hated detangling and just ripped through her hair with a fine tooth comb. She has gorgeous long hair and people were just convinced she was lying/promoting bad habits. It was so silly to me because honestly, there are some long haired women who just have hair that can take all types of punishment. I do therefore think had it been a woman of a different colour giving some of the answers in the CN interview, she may have been spit roasted but no way to the same degree.

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  13. Wow! Growing up multicultural and cross-cultural, due to my parents being missionaries, I did not experience hair racism and very little colorism. People were just happy to know about Jesus and improve their lives. The negativity came from those who were resentful already or who didn't want the people we lived among to be helped and have a better life. Even in parts of Russia where we lived, people accepted us (including our hair). I've even seen Russians with coily hair (type 4a/ab) that have "white skin". In other other countries where we lived, and being in extremely poor areas (without water, except for once a week), everyone was on the same level, regardless of age, gender, etc. When we helped each other, EVERYONE benefited, even though everyone was different in some way.

    I read the article on Curly Nikki and could not see the controversy. I understand that racism exists, have experienced it, but shucked it off and associate with people who aren't racist. Why? Because based on my experience, the racists don't make up most of the world. My family and I have been in countries/communities where the people there have NEVER SEEN A dark-skinned person. Most of the people responded with genuine kindness and love.

    I've read where porosity and texture are the most important aspects of hair anyway, since that determines which products work best for you.

    If racism and its tributaries are to be eliminated, it has to start with the person who believes in the racism, regardless of how they became a racist.

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    1. Wow what a lovely story, I am so happy you shared it here!

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  14. Prettydarkskinnedgirl11 July 2014 00:17

    I'm going to keep my comment brief because I already posted on the article you did for BGLH: I don't agree with you but I understand what you're saying. My only issue when I posted on the BGLH forum was how mean & disrespectful some of the commenters with differing views were being to you & each other. I felt that was uncalled for & unnecessary. I read all the comments because I wanted to understand what the commenters with differing views were saying; I thought it was an exchange of ideas & a debate where we could learn from each other---respectfully. I voiced that to a poster who used the name "authorshoulddrinkbleach" or something similar & of course I was downvoted into oblivion lol! I just wanted to express to you that I appreciate that you tried to open the discussion by presenting your opposing view and considering the backlash, you were pretty brave to do so! I don't agree with you but my opinion of you as a blogger & BGLH contributor isn't diminished in the least.

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    1. Aww love your name prettydarkskinnedgirl! You are my kind of person! We can agree to disagree :)

      I really did not keep up with comments on the original article because they were increasingly getting into a territory that was silly and immature to me. I did still want them to come because they are real! I want people to see all sides including those who agree, disagree and those who are immature.

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  15. I was reading a few comments at BGLH, and there was the notion that white women intend to steal from black women. Or the anonymous commenter above who said white women wouldn't fight for black women. Now I'm not sure how I can fight, but I don't steal, and I give credit where credit is due.
    Whenever someone compliments my hair, I respond thanks, I learnt how to handle it from black women. When someone asks me "what product do you use?", I reply that I don't use a specific product, it's just being informed and being gentle with my hair, and both I learnt here, for example. Unfortunately, often I see from people's reactions that they don't believe me and think, "yeah right, so you're born lucky". But that's another issue.
    Now my "own" race is so clueless when it comes to textured hair, I don't even want to begin, it is too frustrating. I am incredibly grateful towards all the black women who have had the patience and determination to try all these different care and styling routines and who share the knowledge. And I am also grateful towards the naturals who wear their hair out so that there is a grassroot change in beauty perceptions. As I said, my own folks haven't exactly done anything for people with textured hair, so this is the achievement of black women, and I feel indebted. I wish I could give back some of the love. The least I can do is give proper credit.

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    1. I also learned quite a few things from white readers myself. A lovely Glaswegian lady introduced me to the cotton t-shirt that I still use today to cut my drying time from 12 hours plus to just around 2 hours. I certainly also credited her when I wrote the post. I also learned about knots from you I think Gerlinde.

      We can learn from each other provided we keep dialogue open :)

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  16. I just prefer to be part of social groups that are open to all, my family of birth are not all the same heritage, the family I am part of now are not all the same ethnicity, the communities that I have lived most of my life in have been multi-cultural (not always all getting along in peace, but trouble can break out among single race groups too). I just don't feel at home where there is no variety. If people want to talk about their hair in race exclusive places on the internet or in real life, that is their basic human right anyway, but I'll be going where I see variety welcome, and where no one has to cut themselves in half (or more) to get through the door.

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  17. Well.... (ew this will be long)

    I think that everyone has a right to participate in the natural hair movement. It's not just peeps of African descent rolling around with kinky (tightly-curled, coiled, what-have-you) hair. We can all share tips, make videos, and the whole shabang. People can share similar hair textures even if their skin and other physical features are vastly different.
    That being said, I also think that people have a right to be frustrated when they feel that history is repeating itself right in front of their eyes. I have just turned 20 but from the various resources I have come across I have come to the conclusion that African Americans have historically been shafted religiously in my beautiful country, physically, psychologically and economically simply because of those vast physical differences I mentioned earlier. The trend goes like this: African Americans start something out of want or necessity, it suddenly becomes popular = potentially profitable, is monopolized into the mainstream and presented so that credence to its origin is never given or is mangled beyond true recognition. I’m talking about casual comments on how Elvis is the creator of Rock n' Roll, magazine editorials calling cornrows a “new bold” hairstyle worn by celebrities like Kendall, things like that. It sucks but yeah I can understand how the image of a white woman appearing on a website, talking about her hair, on a site that primarily caters to African American women’s plights about their natural hair could be seen as a red flag that things are changing for the worse. Worse = black women being forgotten because the money is greener on the other side (or rather there is just more of it).

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  18. Common Responses given to just mentioned frustrations include:
    1) It's just one white woman. Oh my gawd angry black women please. There is no take over.
    2) Natural hair is not just a black thing everyone can have natural hair. Stop being so narrow minded.
    2a) White women go through discrimination if their hair is curly all the time. Hell sometimes their hair can be just as kinky. It’s the same struggle, please stop.
    2b) Not one texture is attributed to one race because race is a social construct not a biological one. White people can be discriminated against because of their hair too. It’s the same struggle.
    3) You are such a hypocrite. How can you exclude other groups of people based on their race, black people have been discriminated and segregated for so long and now it's trying to be done by black people themselves?! The world is ending!!
    4) Curly Nicki is not a sight for black women’s hair! She can post whoever she wants on her sight.

    My response:

    Yep it is exactly one white woman that somehow sparked this debate. As for takeover, she alone will never change the movement's focus but she and the other woman categorized as white have been and are seen as magnitudes more profitable than the black community as a whole (mostly because their population size is vastly larger than ours). Since most capitalist follow the money this poses a problem to the representation of the movement. She is just one person, but as soon as others who can identify with her start sharing their money alongside with their hair tips there is a statistically high probability that the focus of the natural hair movement will move to those whose "natural" hair does not resemble the people who coined the phrase and supported the movement in the first place.
    That phrase is natural hair. What is natural hair? Well when I first went natural I thought it was the non-chemically altered hair that grows out of your scalp. Most African American women I have come across in America (my classmates, my family, random people in Walgreen's etc.) relax/telax their hair so I totally thought this natural hair movement was a black thing.
    That being said in the African American population having natural hair is not a new thing. The thing is wearing one's hair natural was something only appreciated when the texture was synonymous to biracial or white women’s curls, waves, and ringlets. Having the texture that is more commonly attributed to those of African descent (4a, 4B, 4c, 4d, 4-every letter-up-to-Z) made you a social stigma on legs. So yes having natural hair has been around for a while but wearing it regardless of what society thinks is still new. There was the whole Black is Beautiful era in the 70s-80s but my aunts still have relaxers. Totally hoping this go around stay for far more generations (bless the internet).

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  19. Outside of the African American community, primarily the white mainstream witnessed on every media outlet, the phrase “natural hair” was and is not used in the way African Americans have used the phrase. There was only hair. YouTube videos made by white women with curly hair don’t title their videos natural hairstyles for short hair. They call it hairstyles for short hair. I cannot remember an instance in my life where I witnessed a non-African American woman say or have the need to say that the hair on her head was all natural. Even biracial women get the privilege to have the hair on their heads be assumed as naturally theirs. American society as a whole just perceives that women who are not “just” African American innately have hair that is theirs (aka natural). We can give thanks to the remnants of slavery and ongoing colorism for that. Does that mean they cannot participate in the movement just because they don’t use the phrase natural hair like we do? Uh no. Does that mean the threat of them becoming the focus of the movement is impossible (Whilst they misinterpret/ignore the origin and value placed in the phrase like so many other whites and non whites) ? Still no.

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  20. As for the whole same struggle thing…. Yes I completely think that people with curlier textures are often discriminated against and compared to the straight hair standard that runs this country. The thing is it is only African American daughters being threatened with expulsion from school strictly because of their hair. Not white women’s curly haired daughters. Hell it is African American men and women who have their hair practically forbidden by the army they are willing to serve and potentially die in. It’s not waves on clowns it’s afros. The struggle is similar just not the same. It’s a scenario of rotten apples to rotten oranges. Both are rotten, both are fruit, both are still different.
    I think I already made it clear that I’m all for inclusion. More tip sharing for us all. The thing is when it comes to black “spaces” inclusion historically means eventual exclusion, or the common white washing. You know the less and less Lupitas of the world (who still do not exist on tv outside of stereotypical roles) and more and more Halle Berrys. Maybe this go around the movement won’t be hijacked and dressed anew. Maybe this time we will all (African American, white, not American in general) socially and economically give credence to origin of this movement- Kinky Haired African American Women. Is it so hard to believe that there are women who highly doubt this will happen? Centuries of societal abuse kind of provide a solid mass of facts to base expectations on. So until inclusion that benefits the African American community happens in a way that directly leads to respect towards said community as a people, (with distinct cultural practices that are not derived from racist stereotypes) frustrations like the ones floating about as of recent will appear again and again. We should all play nice with each other (tips and video sharing) but if the game is baseball it should remain baseball regardless of who joins the field.

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  21. I probably offended some when I said that the natural hair movement originated from kinky haired African American Women but as far as I know it’s true. Maybe some women saw some Caribbean/African girls rocking their kinks and thought, “I should try that.” I don’t know. I do know that it became popular within the African American community quite recently and that besides upkeep the main goal of the movement was to show that true self love is attainable even when your hair is in natural kinky state and your crush and aunt look at you funny because you lack “good hair”. The movement allowed an avenue where girls who were told that their natural “bad/slave/wooly/unmanageable/rough hair” needs to be “fixed” actually just needs tender loving care, not a quick damaging fix that speaks magnitudes about our culture’s physical security as a whole even if most chicks like myself know it’s only hair-the world’s just fucked up.
    Did this movement blossom into a space where people of all ethnicities can share hair tips? Of course! Hair texture is attributed to genetics not race. Not only African Americans can have kinky hair and not all African Americans have kinky hair (just most). In fact because any woman, regardless of their ethnicity, can have “X” hair type they can and do ask for hair tips from women with “X” hair types regardless of their ethnicity. I know this sounds obvious but stay with me. It is still important to notice that when you type in natural hairstyles into YouTube that most the videos are being made by African American women not white women. It will kind of make it seem that the movement has a community primarily comprised African American women. It is. It’s because that’s where it started. There were African American women of all hair textures quitting relaxers and texturizers specifically so they could learn their own hair. They asked and received tips and made tutorials for and from other women with hair textures similar to them and surprise-surprise (keyword) most (keyword) of those people just so happened to be African American just like them because people generally ask for help within the communities and groups they associate themselves with (whether that group be culturally, ethnically, religiously etc. based). Even if hair texture is not bound to social rules but instead genetics people are innately social beings. Majority wins- it’s totally an African American women thing because most African American women began by asking other African American women for help and tips if not just experimenting by themselves. It has gained popularity across many different circles of Americans and non-Americans but it’s important to give credence to where everything started.

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  22. In summary, with regards to the Natural Hair movement, it’s not that only African American women are allowed to sit at the table but that table was built and set by African American women. That’s not racist nor an act of discrimination just true. Everyone can sit but an act of being respectable to the host includes acknowledging that the table was set by her. Peeps are just frustrated because they think another black space is going to be whitewashed and that we are going to be left on the side again to make room for profits. The fact that there are so many people who pretend that/sincerely do not think this potential can occur is frightening and partially the reason why this flavor of history reoccurs in African American History. At the end of the day Nikki or whoever owns the blog will post what they want to post. Let’s be nice to each other but let’s not sweep history under the rug to do so-even if it’s just one person.

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    Replies
    1. Anon your response was so long and it is nearly midnight, I have published it for now, will read it in detail tomorrow and respond if needs be as I always make sure I read every comment :)

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    2. Ah heck I read it all anon! I disagree with many of things you said. AA women in general did not create the natural movement, that is a big misconception. AA women certainly did popularize relaxing hair.......that you can take credit for lol. For many women regardless of where they are, the relaxer = breakage is a common equation. Women all over the world are claiming their natural hair, some well before this thing went online.........let us give credit where credit is due.

      I completely understand the complexities of race in US. The one thing I disagree with is the proposed solution. I believe that every individual in a society is capable of redefining how much impact popular culture impacts them. My parents taught me to believe that my natural hair was pretty, they taught me to believe all skin colours are pretty and all shapes and sizes are pretty. The fact that you speak about a light skin, loose texture model as the societal preference is actually a choice that you make as an individual. In my world, Lupita and Halle are not competitors, they are both beautiful. In my world Gabourey Sidibe is just as beautiful as Naomi Campbell. I believe the necessity to demand a black beauty standard that is based on the currently unaccepted trend (e.g a kinky haired/darker skinned woman) is just as bad as the trend (lighter skin/looser curl). We need to realise that everyone is beautiful.......simple, end of, stop the comparisons!

      I do not acquiesce to the view that natural hair is generally not viewed in a positive light. It just simply is not true for every individual and that includes some AA women.

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  23. Hey it is the anon you posted. Sorry that is was so long and for the time, but it was just what I felt. Sorry for the confusion but I shall try and clear a few things up.
    I agree that natural hair has been around in the world...forever...since it came first. The thing is, in America the movement got its name because it applied to women who stopped relaxing their hair to go back to their natural texture = African American women. Were black women the only ones relaxing their hair? Nope. Most of them? Absolutely. In America going natural is an African American woman coined phrase inspired from the English language that we so happen to speak. Everyone can literally, from the dictionary, have natural hair growing from their scalps all around the globe. No debate there. However, in America going natural references going back to hair practices that at the time left one considered slave-like and lower class. That still happens-not for everyone but that is what the movement is trying to change. The movement wants to bring light to the beauty that all African American (and so all African descendants) hair textures can have- especially the kinkier, poorly represented, textures.
    Furthermore, of course humanity takes many forms of beauty-never said Halle was ugly. I also agree that the society is made of individuals capably of forming their own thoughts and opinions. Those opinions all tide together to determine standards and norms distributed out throughout culture. The thing is when you belong to a population within that culture that is considered a minority your kind of beauty often does not get represented wholly in the mainstream light.
    Loving your natural self, it is an inspiring fun message and many people of all ethnic backgrounds and nationalities are #teamnatural because who does not want to love themselves in their natural form. In American fake hair, makeup to bed, plastic surgery and all that vanity is totally a thing glorified in media. It still can be pretty though, different strokes for different folks. Some people just do not want to be that type of pretty so trying something new (#teamnatural) happens by the boatloads especially when the movement has such a great message. This is probably why some refer to the natural hair movement as a trend. Hippies, vegans, some hipsters etc. have long been o’natural but when I hear someone say ,”I am going natural,” I personally think an African American women whose stopped relaxing her hair.
    Are there women who go natural from a chemically processed point in their lives who are not of recent African lineage? Yep. Did women by the masses of all ethnic circles start calling the refrain from chemically processing their hair “going natural” before it was coined within the African American community? No. Seriously it was just doing something with your hair. Google image hair then natural hair and the difference will be obvious. Open an old Seventeen magazine, open an old Essence magazine. Curly hair existed to some extent but kinky hair (like actual not just extremely curly Shirley temple kinky) was nonexistent. With this movement it shows up in American media more and more day by day (not sure for other countries, only live here in the USA).
    Yeah not everyone thinks that natural hair is negative. There are a lot of people who do however. Enough to deter girls from accepting their hair from the get go. The movement provides models for this girls and women and shows the world another type of pretty that although may be obvious to some is not obvious to others. Haters will hate and we do not have to let the opinions of other dictate our lifestyles. However, when your natural physical appearance can have negative daily effects on your interactions within your a highly superficial society, because the majority’s norms get to define the consequences for those who do not fit inside those norms naturally, then sometimes options for how you get to respond to “hate” are limited.

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  24. Again, sorry for the length and time.

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  25. I agree with you JC! And the apartheid comparison is spot on!

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  26. I am a white woman. White, short, hippy, with coarse fuzzy Rosanna Danna hair that grows out rather than down. I call my natural hair my witch hair. I also spent hours in my kitchen as a child being combed, straightened, and tightly braided (two french braids, not cornrows). I was teased in school for my hair, and as a child I was actually chased by a bird on my street for three straight summers because it was pulling my hair out for its' nest. I am not joking. I have been relaxing my hair for twelve years. JC, I found your blog about a year ago when I was considering growing out my natural hair. I have an interest in cosmetic chemistry so your blog is a great read for me. I lost my courage about going natural and started relaxing again, because I'm not ready to leave behind the security this illusion of straight shiny hair affords me. And being that I'm in entertainment, a white girl with hair like mine can't book a job without hours of manual straightening anyways, so I didn't see the point. I have a few thoughts to offer on this subject:

    My social circle is comprised of white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, Persian, and Native American women. To us the term "natural" hair refers to a) if it's your natural texture or paid for texture, and b) if you grew it or glued it. The term is not exclusive to any one ethnic group, and it holds the same meaning for all. All of the women I know struggle with their texture. And guess which models of beauty we are all held to? Halle Berry, Naomi Campbell, Heidi Klum, etc, etc. Those same beautiful women with their tall and thin, their big teeth and straight shiny hair. The exact same women, the exact same standards. None of us can meet them and we could only change them if we recognized we worked together to show the world all women are beautiful as they are.

    I think it's important to recognize the political import of hair across all cultures. I do not undermine the importance of the politics attached to natural black hair (America being my only experience of that), but women as a whole have had social strictures placed on their hair for thousands of years. From pre-Roman times until the 1920s adult women throughout most of the world were primarily required to keep their hair covered or up. Braids, wigs, dye, wraps, dangerous hair treatments, social standards, and political demands on women's hair are universal and in no way more prevalent among any one cultural group than another. I think that is a very ignorant assertion. Let's look at the Muslim world and discuss the political strictures placed on women's hair. And no, my daughter won't get sent home for wearing her natural curls but I did get sent home for wearing mine pink.

    What I took away from this discussion is primarily surprise at how we women are sadly excluding each other and doing ourselves a disservice. Just living in the world I am well aware of the challenges that AA women face in gaining social acceptance for their natural hair and the long, politically charged road to getting their. This is common knowledge. What surprises me is that so many black women here don't seem to realize that women of other cultures fight a similar battle. That coarse curls and kinks span many ethnicities, that much of the world is mixed race by now, and that social standards of beauty affect all of us. A discussion of hair care can only be made better by women with you, know, hair.

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  27. I wanted to add that if you saw me you would never know what my natural hair is like. Night and day. JC, even though I'm still relaxing and honestly will continue to I have learned a great deal about how to care for my hair from you. Going natural just isn't an option for me until I retire from entertainment. That's the world we live in, huh? This discussion has really opened my eyes to how similar the experiences of women are, even though they have a different background or context.

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    1. "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.
      Throughout our time in this country, we have created culture and space where we are able to affirm and uplift ourselves in face of efforts to quell our creativity, destroy our spirits and control our bodies. Today, though our access to the world around us has expanded tremendously, we are consistently being told that we are unable to have anything to ourselves---and that everything we create is not simply ripe for integration, but rather, appropriation and domination by Whiteness. Our music, our fashions, our foods, everything that is uniquely ours is seized upon until it is no longer uniquely ours. Imagine if America loved Black people as much as it loves the products of Black labor. We wouldn’t have to plead a case for reparations, they’d be directly deposited on the 1st and 15th from the National Bank of W.E.B. DuBois." JAMILAH LEMIEUX
      http://www.ebony.com/style/white-women-on-teamnatural-no-thanks-405#ixzz36F6o80GN

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  28. I'm late to this conversation but I want to say thank you JC for voicing your opinion. I started transitioning last year. I am not AA & I have curly hair. I always said, even w/ my perms, that I am naturally curly. I am Puerto Rican, born & raised in NYC. My family is fair to dark skinned, straight to kinky haired. I fall in the middle w/ complexion & hair. We were not brought up denying any of our background. We did not use the term good/bad hair. My first relaxer was at 12 b/c that's what was done to calm down our hair. We know better now. I wore it curly more than straight. The damage from many keratin "treatments" was my wake up call to stop processing my hair completely. I LOVE reading natural hair sites!
    I was bothered by the angry backlash of Waterlily's feature on Curly Nikki & the thought of exclusion in the natural hair community. With time I realized I was bothered at how it was expressed more than the opinion. I knew of Waterlily from the curly community. I also knew she was answering standard questions that are "on file" on the Curly Nikki site. Anyone who is a frequent visitor on Curly Nikki would know that. I wasn't surprised at some of the reactions from the BGLH readers b/c it's a space where many readers freely express themselves but I was disappointed in the way Christina Patrice expressed her point of view. I really wanted to hear why some AA women felt so angry but it was hard for me to listen b/c of the tone. Many of my friends & co-workers are from different backgrounds. The discussions of not having 'White" hair & how it's perceived would always come up but never in a negative manner. It's more of a frustration b/c we've been taught that our hair needs to be to managed or fixed. Reading the negative comments from readers & writers of other blogs & sites towards Curly Nikki's point of view on inclusion was hard. She did not deserve that. Talking negatively about white people seemed to be justified. Not cool.
    The day I made the decision to transition was the day I knew that learning to accept my natural curls was going to be more than about my hair. For now I have to accept that I am a minority in a minority community. It will not stop me from learning sharing & loving the natural hair community. I respectfully disagree w/ exclusivity. I hope that one day we can all share w/ open minds.

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  29. Hi,
    Although I am not black, or curly, or even from the US I have really enjoyed reading this site and had had a lot of inspiration from some of the sites mentioned in the comments. Perhaps it is because of the place where I live, there is a diverse population from many different backgrounds (heck, even my children have at least five different ethnic origins). If a website is for public view then it should be welcomed for everyone that finds the topic of interest. The author of this site has some fabulous articles and I am totally enjoying going through all the older posts. I love the sciencey (if this is even a word) aspect of this blog. I love learning about cosmetic ingredients and their function especially in regards to skin and hair. Even more than this though, I love the fact that people are being encouraged to embrace their natural beauty and work with what we have each been given. I don't want my daughter growing up trying to always change the way she looks because of 'perceived beauty standards'. Learning to love our hair, our skin colour, our unique talents and everything that makes us who we are is the most important. If we can then accept ourselves we are more likely to accept others. While I can understand some of the attitudes have come from past history or hurts I can't help but think that creating any kind of divide or exclusion will perpetuate more of the same.

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