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Curly Nikki‘s post featuring a white woman with curly hair has sparked an important debate about whether the natural hair movement should be more inclusive. Ebony Magazine added their voice to the conversation with a piece by Jamilah Lemieux about Nikki’s decision to feature Sarah, a curly white YouTube blogger on her site. Jamilah wrote:

“I don’t expect hair bloggers to be Black Nationalist feminists simply because they rock Afros, but I do hope they all know the consequences that often befall folks who cease to dance with the folks who brought them to the party. 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.”

She continued:

“Alas, Curly Nikki is obviously not a Black woman’s space and it’s not my job to tell its creator that it has to be one (nor does that mean that it can’t be a source of affirmation for Black women.) However, I think we all need to consider the need for us to have places that we go to that are exclusive, be they physical, via technology or otherwise. We often confuse integration with equality and acceptance, when we are so often the ones who find ourselves left out in the cold. I assure you that a White woman with silky, curly hair will be just fine if we’d rather keep our hair chatter to ourselves.”

Nikki responded to the article by revealing that she reached out to Ebony Magazine to feature her charity work in South Africa and they dropped the ball. She alleges the editors went on vacation and never posted her coverage about said mission, as was their agreement. By calling out that Ebony Magazine ‘dropped the ball’ with her charitable mission, Nikki seems to be claiming that they show up to criticize her outlet but not to support the initiatives she runs that can make a difference in the community. An excerpt from her post:

Jamilah, I would like to thank you for bringing to light a very controversial and provoking topic. But, you’ll forgive me if I don’t, right? I and the rest of the community that I fight tooth and nail to represent, would very much appreciate it if you and your contemporaries would talk less and show up more. When you write about subjects that tear down a sense of community while ignoring the work I do to build them up, you remind me of the Pharisees who prayed loud, with many words, not to be holy, but just to be heard.

Jamilah responded to Nikki’s piece on Twitter with this update:

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And it’s not just black women weighing in on the white woman’s place in the natural hair movement. A white reader, Ali, shared her opinion on the matter with Black Girl Long Hair:

Q: When you log onto a site like Blackgirllonghair.com, is your expectation that you will be represented as a white curly? Do you think it’s racist or exclusionary that you’re not? (And you can be totally honest!!)
A: I’m pretty sure the title sets the expectation! No, I don’t expect to be represented here and I don’t care. I have serious issues with the term reverse racism. This is a space for a specific experience and I have no experience to bring to the discussion, so why would I care?

Where do you stand on this issue, Clutchettes and Gents? Do you feel the backlash against Nikki’s decision to feature Sarah on her site is valid?

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  • Curly Kenzie

    As a white woman, I frequent websites like curlynikki to educate myself on my own hair, however I do not expect nor do I feel insulted if my hair type or race is not represented on a website that is primarily for black women. I have learned a lot about my own hair through the natural hair communities, as well as the white standard of beauty and how much it has silently affected so many women…and though I consider myself a supporter of the natural hair movement, I do not and can not include myself in this type of community. And that’s just fine, maybe if people like Sarah would take a second to sit on the side lines and watch instead of commanding attention she would truly be able to appreciate what things like the natural hair movement do for equality in our country instead of just preaching about being included.

  • loreal

    I wonder how this conversation would go if we asked ebony execs, journalist and so forth if a white woman should be featured in ebony, sister to sister, essence or black style report. While much of the attention need be given to black women (and men) I beleive we need balance. There should be a place for black hair to be focused on, however it would be thoughtful to consider that finding common ground rather than only finding differences will only increase our worlds acceptance and appreciation for otherwise neglected black women and girls. If a child has a broken rist, they need extra attention, but should the mother neglect the other. Both children can benefit from a kiss and a scoop of ice cream, so long as the one child receives the care needed.

  • cquake

    Christina, I think you’re wrong in wanting to tell these women how they should feel about a movement that was, in fact, their own creation. If they tell you that, for instance, “natural hair” contains a completely different meaning – since it also encapsulates lots of struggles on political and personal aspects -, you should make a step back, sit down and listen to what they are telling you.

    No one invited us to join them or their spaces. If for some reasons we visit them – since plenty of blogs contain public posts on such a topic -, I think the only thing we can do is thank them for the opportunity, learn from them and respect them.

  • Lauren Walker

    Or they just copy it.

  • Smith Jane

    A year later and her readership has decline. *bloop*

    Controversy doesn’t always sell, hun