Don Imus. Rutgers Women's Basketball Team. Al Sharpton. Women's Organizations.
Say all these names together and you will think of the telecast that featured Don Imus and those three words that turned into an outrage that equaled "We're Mad As Hell and We're Not going to Take it Anymore".
Women's Groups all around the country jockeyed for position, calling it sexist most of all. That these women, future leaders in their own professions, were subjected to the crude comments of an antiquated jockey, who, albeit a shock jock, had crossed the Mason - Dixon line and had entered into a territory of warfare.
Al Sharpton & Co. were also in the mix indicating that NOT only were they offended and angry, they wanted Imus to apologize. Others called for (and subsequently received), his job on a platter bigger than the one that carried the head of John the Baptist.
Those Three Words. The words that shocked and angered everyone into a frothy tizzy.
But to most black women, there was only one word we heard.
The word that has been used in anger, teasing, jokes, sadness, envy, and even pride. The word that chases many women around for being "too black" and haunts other black women for not being "black enough". This is the word that the word Jheri, California, "S", and even Soul Glo were able to mask. This was the word, used in the very self absorbed, non "free to be me" 1980's that distinguished who was good looking, and who WASN'T. And we can't say it was perpetuated by men, I'm NOT going to go there. Some of the worst offenders of this came from women. You can't imagine how many women I've heard be concerned about what kind of HAIR their children are going to have. Exactly where does that come from?
I can tell you myself, when I was communicating what Don Imus said to many of my girlfriends, mostly all of them said with a loud resonating voice "Who was he calling NAPPY?"
It's a word, even know, if used in comedy, or even as a timeclock to you knowing it's time for you to get your hair done, means something to most black women. It means something is WRONG. It means something is askew. It means "fix it". AND, if you think that we have gotten past it, think again. . . Listen in on any descriptive conversation of a generation Y-or Z-er any.given.day for a rude awakening. . .
Authentically speaking, I can't say that I was ever the target of that word, but I can tell you that I heard it enough in passing, describing hair textures for both boys AND girls. One of my self absorbed, narcisisstic friends, now even compares her son's hair to others, and the word "good" and "bad" come out of her mouth on the regular.
Not as vicious in adulthood (but still prevalent) as it was in childhood, the word Nappy generates images of people unhappy with the skin (or hair, for that matter) that they are in, and equally as bad, the notion that the hair shaft is tightly wound and requires more treatment to manage, versus straight, signifies something in a culture that has always has to fight - for an identity and everything else. It signifies something for a culture - a culture that had to be created from the legacy that was originally stripped from them.
There is no clearly defined texture of what represents us - be it Afro-Cuban, Black American, Honduras, Boricua, French-Canadian (Creole), Blasian, or any combination thereof. It represents all of us, and neither should it be a reason to envy or love one more than the other, especially for something that delves into the minutia of determining what is 'good' and what is 'bad' as it relates to hair texture.
So, let your soul glo. . . .
What are Your Thoughts?