On my recent interview with Atlanta rapper and star of Love & Hip Hip Rasheeda there were a couple of comments that stuck out to me regarding her use of the word nappy on the reunion show to insult fellow cast member K. Michelle. Now as I sat and watched the show when it aired, my first thought was – K’s hair wasn’t nappy, it was a badly styled weave. I loved most of K. Michelle’s hairstyles on the show but the reunion do was a swing and a miss for me. My second thought was “Uh oh…Rasheeda is going to get slammed for using the n-word!” Sure enough, on the interview post were these comments:
Please understand I am not upset at anyone for expressing their opinion, in fact I encourage and appreciate it. But, the second comment from Anonymous really stuck out to me. In my head (completely imagined) if you ever called this commenter’s hair nappy, she’d rear back with the black woman neck roll as if you’d called her momma a b-word and be ready to fight! Okay, maybe I’m putting entirely too much on this one person’s comment, but there actually are women that feel that strongly about the word ‘nappy’.
So I began to think, am I offended when someone calls my hair nappy? My conclusion was it depends on how its is used. If my guy touches my hair and says “Oooh, your hair is growing, I can feel all those naps up in there!” Imma smile like he proposed (okay another exaggeration) and say thank you! But last Christmas my momma was being the ultimate hair hater for a hot minute and when I was moisturizing and sealing my hair she said “Well, yeah your hair is long, but what are all those naps?” Honey I flipped my hair over my shoulder so hard and said with much attitude “WHAT NAPS?! Whatchu talkin bout Willis?!” So I said okay, when used in a degoragory or condescending way, I’m offended by someone calling my hair nappy, yes. But there are times and uses of the word that are positive or that I feel indifferent about.
Wasn’t this the whole argument over the word nigga? It depends on the way its used, right? We say it with an ‘a’ and its not bad, with an -er and it means ignorant person. Rappers defended their use saying its now a term of endearment and doesn’t even have the same racial connotation it used to but when a white person slips up and uses it, they better call for witness protection! So can a white person call your hair nappy? What if they say “I wish my hair was nappy like yours” I mean, that’s a compliment right? I think I’d be uncomfortable with that though to be honest. So can we call our own hair nappy but an “outsider” cannot? Does it depend on how its used? I mean I’ve seen tee shirts and things celebrating women “loving their naps” and what not.
So, let me ask – how do you feel about the word nappy? Will it ever lose its negative connotation? Are you offended if someone calls your hair nappy? Can white people use the word?