What really is the story behind the Nappy Hair Controversy? “Nappy Hair” is a children’s book written by Herron, Carolivia – a professor in Chico State University, California. The book’s main story revolves around the kinky, wild hair of a young black girl. It is said that its real message is intended for black children, that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their hair. Instead, they should love it and take great pride in having African features. But then, a teacher from a school in Brooklyn read it to her class. She is white and her students were Hispanic and black. Her purpose for that exercise is to help her class be proud and celebrate their obvious differences.
Ruth Sherman is the twenty seven year old teacher. She claims that the Nappy Hair book was a tool that can be used to teach pride and self-esteem. But unfortunately, some black parents back then were outraged and they believe that Sherman is racially insensitive. The issue goes on and the parents launched and conducted a protest.
For them, the term ‘nappy’ is being used by the white people before for describing hair that’s unlike their own. They believe that the Nappy word has and will always have some negative connotations especially because of its history and origins. Some experts say that parents felt that their children were actually being taught and influenced to hate and be ashamed of themselves, not to mention that it also stirred up sense of self rejection and self-hate.
However, the main irony here is that this book was said to be designed for combating those feelings. Nappy Hair book tells a story about a young girl called Brenda who has the kinky, nappy, fuzzy, screwed up, knotted up, squeezed up, and tangled up hair you have even seen. The book used colorful illustrations as well as cheery prose. The book try to explain the way Brenda’s uncle tells her to be proud of her hair since it’s a gift given by God and that it represents resilience and strength of the people.
The book’s author, Carolivia Herron, claimed that she is trying to show the children how wonderful nappy hair really is. For her, it’s a book of praise, celebration, and delight for a nappy headed kid. But despite of this positive message, this book has struck raw nerves among many parents who claimed that their kids are growing up in a place or society where they’re overwhelmed with images and figures of very beautiful women with long, flowing, straight hair.
The Nappy Hair Controversy isn’t just about the message that it is said to be portraying. There are also parents who were disturbed by the language used in the book. The book was relayed in ‘black-Caribbean-patois’ dialect with the use of a type of sing song dialogue, call & response. For some, it was not about what was intended to be taught but who’s teaching it. Regardless of the real reason behind the Nappy hair controversy, everyone has a different perception in different things.