It seemed that just as the post was published twitter timelines and Facebook newsfeeds began criticizing and holding Curly Nikki accountable for attempting to bring inclusion into a space that didn’t need it. The natural hair movement, as it is called, is solely for Black women. Being that our features, most pronouncedly our hair, have always been ridiculed and deemed the exception rather than the rule when it comes to beauty, it was and still is a powerful thing for a Black woman to proudly wear her tresses as they naturally are and proclaim just as beautiful as what adorns the heads of non-Black women. Within the community the stories of being teased, of feeling ugly and inadequate are unfortunately heard continually. Natural hair blogs and vlogs allowed Black women to unite and network, from one another, heal from past hurts and face present insecurities head on without the prying and judging eyes of the world outside. Well, that is what we thought was happening…
As the story gained momentum, the investigative detectives of the web set out to find more information about what was happening behind the scenes at Curly Nikki. It did not help that little over a year ago, this very same site came under fire for featuring a story on famous naturalista, Tracee Ellis Ross, that came across as more of a plug for the haircare line, Optimum. Long time readers such as I knew that the blog had to have sponsors and advertisements due to it’s growth over the last couple of years, but nothing could prepare us for learning that the website which was initially started and run by Nikki Watson was and still is officially owned by Textured Media.
Textured Media is a conglomerate specializing in “curls”, with sites that include Naturally Curly. Although Naturally Curly features content for women of all races and ethnicities, it’s parent company is ran solely by white women with investors that include brands like Paul Mitchell. So, in a nutshell Nikki Watson is no longer the creative head of the Curly Nikki brand, but more so the face of the site (since 2007).
So, with this information in hand it really can’t be seen as a surprise that Curly Nikki would now incorporate white women into it’s canon of stories of natural hair experiences. The issue that now arises within this revelation is how do we keep Black spaces for Black people. It is paramount as a people to have places offline as well as online that allow us to participate in actions that constitute our humanity without feeling the need to perform for anyone outside of our community. In short, we need spaces that allow us to take our hair down (pun intended). We need to make sure that Black spaces remain operated by and for Black people, especially when the target demographic is Black women.
What happens when white infiltration occurs in these spaces is that Black experiences get pushed into the background while white ones slip easily into the foreground. The “me-too” hymn starts up strongly by the white choir that is now positioned at center-stage as they aim to “assure” us that there is nothing special or unique about our Black narratives as they too have been through something similar. What we know and feel as rightfully ours becomes appropriated and lost to us.
My relationship with the Curly Nikki brand has come to an end. I cannot and will not support a platform that is for Black women solely by appearance. There are those who find nothing wrong with Sarah’s feature, and who will maintain that the natural hair movement cannot be for Black women alone. Obviously, I disagree. A quick google search alone will let any curious mind know that the term has and still refers to a movement of Black women shunning straightening procedures in the majority of their hair regimens. Everyone is entitled to feel as they do regarding this news, and I hope that those who feel as strongly as I will join me in supporting and creating platforms that seek to remain planted firmly in our community of sisterhood.
Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val.