The librarian suggested Nappy by Charisse Carney-Nunes after hearing a conversation I was having with another woman in line about finding a natural hairstylist. Carney-Nunes intends the book to “affirm the beauty and strength of black hair” as per an interview at The Brown Bookshelf.
I mention how she sees the book because I absolutely did not like it, nor did I take get the intended message from the book. I can see what it’s trying to do–link natural hair with the history of blackness in the U.S., specifically the triumphs of black women.
The problem is that black natural hair is presented as a burden. It’s painful, it’s a nuisance, it’s a struggle to have. The repeated line is that God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle like having nappy hair is some great tragedy that has to be overcome. It’s equated with the Civil Rights movement, slavery, etc. Which is fine on paper because, yes, that is the history.
But the little girl that’s getting her hair combed is in pain. There is nothing enjoyable presented about having nappy hair. As a mother of a child whose hair isn’t chemically treated, I would not want her to read the book about how her hair is some great trial to overcome, that it’s SO HARD to wear her hair the way it is.
We enjoy hair time. We watch movies and talk. If I’m hurting her when I do her hair, it’s because I’m doing something wrong–like not moisturizing her hair enough. The only great struggle for me, as a woman who has stopped using chemicals in my hair, is not wanting to do my hair, which was an issue I had when my hair was relaxed.
So this gets a big thumbs down for me.
Although I did like the mini-biographies presented of the women featured in the book.
POC Reading Challenge: 13/15