Happy To Be Nappy

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As a boy, I recall my own grandmother and aunt using words such as “nappy hair� or “steel wool� hair, to shame me into getting a haircut. The image of my aunt straightening her hair with a hot-comb is seared in my mind. The roots of slavery and racism run deep. It was not until I became a teen-ager that I started taking pride in nappy hair. I wore an Afro in defiance—and graduated to dreadlocks.

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER



Just imagine if a Black DJ had said in order to eradicate racism in America we should abort every white baby: would he be offered a host spot on CNN? Well, Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary under the senior President Bush, said the best way to eliminate crime is to abort all Black babies. Bennett didn’t lose his CNN or radio gigs.

What if a Black radio show ignoramus had characterized white female athletes as “stringy-haired flat-ass hos”?

In recent weeks, after Don Imus’s infamous “nappy-headed hos” remark, the fallout snowballed and advertisers and media corporations quickly distanced themselves from him. Yet, if Imus is a bigot, he is their creation and their bigot. Imus channels the voice of a major segment of white America. His face is theirs. He echoes accepted sentiments of the larger white society.

His fan base is in the millions. He says the things they wish they could all say—why else was he popular? Bob Grant and Rush Limbaugh drink from the same sewer.
 
Last November, much of white America was in uproar, over the proposed O.J. Simpson book, “If I Did It.” When I rejected the outcry as America’s hypocrisy, one reader labeled me as “despicable.” Events vindicated my stance. While O.J. was vociferously vilified, there was no similar outrage from that side of town when Sean Bell was gunned down and murdered by New York Police Department officers, some of whom had been drinking.


The silence and excuses are quite telling. While organizations like National Organization of Women (NOW) did launch a huge anti-Imus campaign, the voices of many of the nation’s top feminists were not heard in protest. Were they silent because they saw Imus’s outrage as "only" a racial attack? Wasn’t this a great occasion to denounce America’s historic sexual exploitation of all women, especially, Black women?
 

Some, including Imus, tried to deflect responsibility by bringing up the “Minucci defense”—recall that the thug, Nicholas Minucci, who beat a Black man in New York senseless while spewing the N-word claimed he wasn’t a racist: he argued that Blacks also used the N-word to refer to each other. Imus blamed it on rappers.
 
It’s true that many in the Black community engage in self-hate. Yet we have to contextualize that psychosis within its racial patriarchal roots. An examination of the Stockholm syndrome, as well as the work of Dr. Joy Leary, and Frantz Fanon is instructive. Blacks have been taught to disdain themselves for centuries—why is this news at all or even shocking? This is not to say foul-mouthed rappers shouldn’t he held accountable—they must. Their self-loathing is a symptom of white paternalistic racism.
 
As a boy, I recall my own grandmother and aunt using words such as “nappy hair” or “steel wool” hair, to shame me into getting a haircut. The image of my aunt straightening her hair with a hot-comb is seared in my mind. The roots of slavery and racism run deep. It was not until I became a teen-ager that I started taking pride in nappy hair. I wore an Afro in defiance—and graduated to dreadlocks.
 
We should all defy white racism. In the face of injustice silence is the enemy.


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