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One of the newest sororities on the block appears to be Pi Nappa Kappa created by Leola Anifowoshe. Given the mission of the sorority, it can be assumed that “Nappa” is a play on “nappy”. According to the “Natural Hair Sorority & Fraternity – 10K Naturals” Facebook page, Pi Nappa Kappa’s mission is to “To educate, inspire and uplift natural hair women, men, boys and girls throughout the entire world. To make the word “nappy” into a “happy” and celebrated term”.

I am ambivalent about the sorority. On one hand, it feels like an unnecessary organization. Can’t the natural hair movement just develop on its own? Why do we need a sorority? Furthermore, why not just have a natural hair care organization with the same mission? Finally, the name makes it seem like a farcical caricature of Greek life.

On the other hand, I laud Ms. Anifowoshe’s brilliance in creating Pi Nappa Kappa as a sorority. First, it is a great marketing ploy. By calling it a sorority, Ms. Anifowoshe has tapped into the deep roots of the historically Black sororities (and their brethren fraternities). Sorority members are highly identified with their organizations and calling Pi Nappa Kappa a sorority is likely to start a feisty conversation. Hey, conflict sells and I’m certain that Ms. Anifowoshe will get more media coverage by calling it a sorority than if she had called it an organization, club or group. Second, I do believe that a Natural Hair movement is taking place. Look around, and you will surely note a proliferation of websites, news stories, magazine articles, etc. on natural hair. Something is afoot. I’ve thought that it would be great to have a clearinghouse for this information. As a hair and identity blogger (tropie7189.blogspot.com), I’ve sometimes been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of natural hair information available. If Ms. Anifowoshe’s organization will serve as a conduit to the wealth of available information, I’m in, no matter what she calls it. I will say that I won’t take a line number, pledge, do a special handshake (will that be necessary given it’s an Internet sorority?), learn a special call, or anything like that. I pledged a traditionally Black sorority in college and that experience stands on its own; I have no desire to replicate it.

I’m curious to see if the idea takes off and how people respond to the idea. What are your thoughts?

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One of the newest sororities on the block appears to be Pi Nappa Kappa created by Leola Anifowoshe. Given the mission of the sorority, it can be assumed that “Nappa” is a play on “nappy”. According to the “Natural Hair Sorority & Fraternity – 10K Naturals” Facebook page, Pi Nappa Kappa’s mission is to “To educate, inspire and uplift natural hair women, men, boys and girls throughout the entire world. To make the word “nappy” into a “happy” and celebrated term”.

I am ambivalent about the sorority. On one hand, it feels like an unnecessary organization. Can’t the natural hair movement just develop on its own? Why do we need a sorority? Furthermore, why not just have a natural hair care organization with the same mission? Finally, the name makes it seem like a farcical caricature of Greek life.

On the other hand, I laud Ms. Anifowoshe’s brilliance in creating Pi Nappa Kappa as a sorority. First, it is a great marketing ploy. By calling it a sorority, Ms. Anifowoshe has tapped into the deep roots of the historically Black sororities (and their brethren fraternities). Sorority members are highly identified with their organizations and calling Pi Nappa Kappa a sorority is likely to start a feisty conversation. Hey, conflict sells and I’m certain that Ms. Anifowoshe will get more media coverage by calling it a sorority than if she had called it an organization, club or group. Second, I do believe that a Natural Hair movement is taking place. Look around, and you will surely note a proliferation of websites, news stories, magazine articles, etc. on natural hair. Something is afoot. I’ve thought that it would be great to have a clearinghouse for this information. As a hair and identity blogger (tropie7189.blogspot.com), I’ve sometimes been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of natural hair information available. If Ms. Anifowoshe’s organization will serve as a conduit to the wealth of available information, I’m in, no matter what she calls it. I will say that I won’t take a line number, pledge, do a special handshake (will that be necessary given it’s an Internet sorority?), learn a special call, or anything like that. I pledged a traditionally Black sorority in college and that experience stands on its own; I have no desire to replicate it.

I’m curious to see if the idea takes off and how people respond to the idea. What are your thoughts?

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I have never been to Brazil, but yesterday’s blog underscored the kinship that I feel with Brazilian women. Wait, let’s enlarge that: with women of African descent around the world. Actually, I feel a bond with all women who’ve felt that they somehow didn’t measure up. I think most of us at some point have looked in the mirror and been dissatisfied. When you have those experiences, do you share them with the women in your inner circle? Or, do you close the door, sigh at yourself in the mirror and privately make yourself “presentable”? Why aren’t we more open with each other about our beauty struggles? Are we embarrassed? Ashamed? Or, is it because we don’t want even our close friends to see or hear about our naps, dark roots, tangled ends? Would this be too big of a challenge to our public identity?

I came across a poem entitled “The Creamy Lye” by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (http://www.endarkenment.com/hair/poetry/rosenberg/creamylye.htm). You can replace lye with whatever process you subject yourself to (but secretly want to stop enduring). I love this poem because I can relate to it at multiple levels. First, it speaks to the fact that lye is a harmful chemical (hmm, there are harmful chemicals in the Brazilian Blowout too) and that using it hurts you. When I got pregnant with my firsts son, I stopped relaxing my hair because my OB/GYN told me that the chemicals could get into my blood stream and, that while the amount would be negligible there is a dearth of empirical evidence to suggest that it is 100% safe to relax your hair while pregnant. I started thinking that if it would harm the baby in my womb after 40 weeks, what would it do to me after using a relaxer for two decades?

Second, the poem illustrates the resilience of natural hair because as potent as lye is, it is not as strong as natural hair which has to be “tamed” every six to eight weeks.

Finally, the poem connects using a relaxer to beauty standards that emanate from notions of White beauty (think blond hair, blue eyes and straight hair). I often wonder if women who are naturally blond and blue-eyed feel excluded from such discussions as this ones. Honestly, there are a whole host of challenges that arise from the pressure experienced when one is held up as a model of beauty. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

The Creamy Lye

by Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Don’t slap

My head

With that

White lye

I know the truth:

It’s creamy crack

(my private addiction,

a six-week fix)

straightening my roots

with the cool press

of sodium hydroxide

It’s a relaxer

leaving me

tense, my head

on fire

melting, melting

under chemical burns, plastering

my scalp with scabs

(my private track marks,

a six-week fix)

shedding and oozing.

Don’t slap

My head

With that

White lye.

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Relaxer Magically Made Me More Beautiful

I had a relaxer from elementary school until graduate school, roughly 20 plus years.As a little girl, new growth threatened my sense that I had pretty hair but, as I got older, my relationship with my hair and the effect on my identity grew in complexity.I struggled with revealing my authentic self as it relates to my hair, meaning, I did whatever I could to conceal my new growth.

As a young woman, I remember many occasions when I would not go to an event because my edges were jacked up in my opinion.Or, I’d only go if I my gel, toothbrush and scarf would do the trick.This is when my hair was pulled back.Some of you may already know the routine:I’d wet my edges, take a toothbrush (one reserved especially for this purpose!), dip it into some clear gel and saturate my edges.Then, I’d tie a tight scarf around it and let it dry.When I removed the scarf, my edges would be shellacked in place and I’d be okay to go out.Or, if my hair was curled, I’d take a curling iron and, basically, press the edges.I remember the knot in my stomach, the anxiety rising when I just didn’t like the way that my hair was looking, yet I knew that my relaxer appointment was a week away.

Research has found that long hair is an indication of femininity (Callaghan, 1994; Cunningham, 1995) so it’s no wonder that I strove to have long, straight tresses.But, what does it mean when your natural hair does not “meet” the standards of femininity?I think we see women chasing beauty and doing whatever they can to attain it.This may explain why women do things to their hair that are harmful (e.g., result in hair loss, permanent scalp damage, etc.).

I myself suffered from alopecia and clumps of my hair would fall out in the back left part of my head.I’d stop getting a relaxer for a while, moisturize my hair and go to stylists who could straighten my hair in healthier ways.Basically, I put myself in hair rehab so that my hair would strengthen and I’d be able to go back to relaxers.This may work for other women, but when I look back, I have to ask, WHY did I so desire straight hair?Why, when my hair was falling out and I was spending a lot of money to attain a texture that just wasn’t what I was naturally blessed with?Was it because I wanted to be beautiful?Did I feel ugly in my natural state?What was driving my desire to have straight hair?Why did I look at a relaxer as a magic wand that would grant me beauty?

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New growth ruined my relaxed facade

New growth.Wow!That phrase brings back a rush of memories of my relaxed hair being overrun with my natural hair.When I saw this image, it brought back a rush of emotions

New growth.Wow!That phrase brings back a rush of memories of my relaxed hair being overrun with my natural hair.When I saw this image, it brought back a rush of emotions (Image found at:http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/3c/77329-opininion-3b-3c-4a-i-am-confused.html).The funny thing is that when I searched “new growth” on the Internet and looked at images, I came up with verdant images of strong spruce trees, plant stems all glistening with dew, budding shoots and many other beautiful images from nature.This made me pause.New growth is a good thing.It represents rebirth, life, strength.But why did new growth have such a negative connotation when I was younger?Was it that I was resentful, afraid of the fact that the real me was rearing its ugly head and peaking through the cracks of my relaxed façade?

How do (did) you feel about new growth?This question pertains to most women, not just Black women so please chime in!JHow did you feel when your color grew out and you had undyed roots?What about when your curly permanent grew out and your natural hair grew in?Did this affect how you felt about yourself?Did you go about your normal daily routine or did this prevent you from going out?I’d love to hear your stories.