The choice to go natural has frequently been referred to as a “movement” or “trend” since thousands of black women seem to be undergoing the process at the same time. As if something that involved you growing out your relaxer for over a year (as I did) or cutting all of your hair off, could be considered just a trend right? No matter how it has been categorized, it hasn’t changed the journey and excitement for me and the countless other women who have decided to take our hair back to its natural state. It has been a learning process, sparking commentary and questions, as well as fostering an appreciation for my hair and the beauty of black hair in general, in all of its many forms.
That is why I found it surprising when I heard news of a natural hair sorority named Pi Nappa Kappa. I first wondered how a sisterhood could be based on something so trivial as the state of your hair. Yes, I do feel a little twinge of happiness seeing another woman with an afro, but I surely do not pretend to be inextricably linked to her because of it. We all know that human relationships are about so much more than just outward appearance, especially those that are meaningful.
Then, I wondered how these “sisters” would go about being chosen. I have friends in black sororities, so I am aware of the process that isn’t just a matter of saying, “hey pick me!” and then being a member. It’s a long road and one must work hard to be granted the distinction, as well as being a representation of a name that carries with it loads of history. Naturally, new sororities can be created especially as groups feel that there is a void and that they would like to be heard, but to form one solely based on an aspect of beauty seems frivolous. Though I love to talk to people about my hair especially other women who are also natural, I do not need a sorority to do that or to give any justification for me doing so.
The mission is beautiful:”to educate, inspire and uplift natural hair women, men, boys and girls throughout the entire world (and) to make the word “nappy” into a “happy” and celebrated term.” This is a powerful message which I think is definitely something that needs to be changed in terms of image and beauty when it comes to black men and women, but I am not completely sure that a sorority is necessary to do it, especially because it is exclusive rather than inclusive. As black women, we deal with so much criticism and scrutiny as it is in regards to our image and quite frankly, we do not need another divisive tool that is just going to separate us.
Is being natural different from having a relaxer? Yes, for many reasons. Though deemed a “movement” by many, it is still rare to see a huge afro while out and about, mostly because of the many ways that black women can wear our hair from relaxers to weaves to straight and so forth. Does having big, unapologetic natural hair garner more attention than permed hair? In my case it has as in many cases of women I know, but not in all. For some like myself, it was just a decision to wear our hair a certain way and knowing that going natural was the only way to do it. For others, it might have been a form of rebellion or a quest to connect with their roots. Others still might have just wanted to see how their natural hair looked after years of not knowing. Despite the many reasons, we all are on the road less traveled, but that road doesn’t have to be so far removed from other women who did not make the same choice.
Despite my own criticism, I do hope that the sisters of Pi Nappa Kappa are able to reach and inspire women both young and old who are considering the change, as well as showing us all that our natural beauty is a cause for celebration. I will definitely keep a watch on the sorority and see what they have in the works and I hope that its actions come from a place of love and positivity and not one of exclusivity. Only time will tell.