CultureHealth and Beauty

Black Blogs and White Ownership: Why Black women will not have safe spaces

afro lady

First of all I am not a natural hair diva. I am relaxed but I feel it is important to speak out about this issue. Black beauty and hair is a billion dollar industry where Blacks have little to no ownership over products and social media forums made for us. *** Warning: No shade or tea has been thrown as a result of this post. I am just “kicking the truth to the young Black youth.” ***

The recent debate over natural hair and who should be a part of the movement had me thinking. As long as media geared towards Black people and in this case Black women, is owned by nonBlacks, Black women will not have a safe space.

We cannot have our own because we do not support our own. And when we do own our own, we are often ignored by Black readers because Black bloggers and vloggers aren’t getting the spreads in magazines, newspapers or appearing on talk shows. We do not have that access because we do not have well-connected nonblack owned media organizations financially backing us up. In some cases, we aren’t biracial, have the highly sought after 3a curly hair or aren’t light enough. Let’s be real. Colorism and curlism are two more reasons why Black women who have Black features get ignored and those who have eurocentric features or are biracial are the faces of the natural hair movement.

I want to make two points for bloggers and our readers.

As a blogger, it is our responsibility to inform our readers about the purpose of our blog. It is our duty to our readers to be honest about the premise, direction and ownership of our blogs. That is why my blog boldly says,  “I am a proud African American woman who loves to discuss issues that empower Black women.” I own it. Being up front creates a relationship built on trust and integrity.

I started to analyze why there huge was a backlash against CN. I believe it wasn’t so much about the White woman who was featured on Naturally Curly’s Curly Nikki blog. It is because CN readers felt betrayed. They were under the impression CN was a safe space for Black women. After years of having loyal Black women followers, those followers were jarringly made aware that CN was not a safe space for Black women. For her readers, it was like a stranger came up in their home, the place they thought was safe and that stranger unceremoniously let them know that the stranger really owned the place. And then that same stranger was about to throw you out and take over. Shoot, I would be mad too.

I am not here for the personal attacks on her. They are absolutely unnecessary however if you unknowingly mislead your readers who have invested their trust, time, energy and money in a brand they thought was yours they have absolutely every right to criticize you. They felt ripped off.

There are so many lessons to be learned for bloggers and vloggers from this entire situation.

  • Stop assuming that your readers know who owns the site you are employed on. This must be stressed when the audience is Black and the site is owned by nonBlacks.
  • Know your audience. If it will include nonBlacks let your readers know this.
  • If you are going to a blog on Black beauty and hair at least learn about the politics of Black hair.  Open up a book and study Black history. It is more than mystical magical curling gels, twisting and pulling. It is about discrimination, racism, colorism, navigating White supremacists terrains and after all of that, learning to love your beautiful Black self.
  • If you knew any of the points above, you would know why the natural hair movement cannot be inclusive of others. It is because nonBlacks do not carry the burden of having to alter themselves to survive in a White supremacist world. In fact, nonBlacks unknowingly or knowingly benefit and are  financially and socially invested in it.

As a reader before you follow a blogger or a YouTuber do your research on them. If they do not clearly state what the motives of their blog, website and vlog are and their ownership be leery of them.  Many of us naïvely attach ourselves to an image or a person because the spokesperson looks like us or in some cases, is someone we want to look like. And when we find out that, that  person is getting paid and is controlled by someone who is nonBlack we are extremely disappointed,  feel violated and are hurt. Consumers can avoid this by doing their research.

In closing if you truly want a safe space for Black women it is absolutely imperative to support Black owned and operated blogs, websites and vlogs. Why would a 4a-c reader or viewer get hair advice from a biracial 3a any way? It does not make sense. Any way I am grateful for those who follow me. I would not be here without you. I just want to remind you that readers have the power. It is time for you to flex it. Support Black social media platforms and businesses.

Stay bougie and have a great day.

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25 comments

  1. D,Palmer 6 July, 2014 at 12:34 Reply

    Hello Bougie Black Girl,

    I can understand why some of these women are upset, yet I do not feel any pity for them. This has happen over and over again in our history. They give their support to crazy schemes, thinking about the “Rio Girl” hair product. I remember one site was discussing 4a,3c hair type and I was thinking this is rubbish and these women do not want to be black. As you stated, research the companies, knowing our history and applying this information to support black blogger and business that support black women.

  2. Moe 6 July, 2014 at 19:01 Reply

    I’m glad I found your site thanks to Black and Brown Love on Facebook and you are covering this hotly debated topic. I’m a black man, who’s a fan of a natural hair fan page on Facebook and the question was can white women be part of the natural hair movement and should they be included? Well, I would say overwhelmingly the response was “NO” with me as a brotha agreeing in solidarity with my sistas.

    However, what I found troubling and very disappointing were the large number of sistas who replied with a “Yes” to including white women and white women responding to the fact that their hair struggles were the same as a black women. To me it was pure bull and treasonous for the sistas to capitulate to these white women as if they’ve always had this sistahood with black women, which is further from the truth.

    They completely ignored the racist historical aspect in the US when it came to black women’s hair, let’s not even talk about their bodies, which has been made fun of and poked at relentlessly for hundreds of years destroying the self esteem of our sistas….which they are now just rebuilding back up. Many sistas expressed the point of us having our space as being very important for us to be us amongst us without explanation.

    White women came on their calling us racists and you had these really miseducated and sad sistas agreeing with them and talking about how we should be inclusive. I was like absolutely not I see white women and their hair everywhere and I want to come to a space specifically where I can adore my Queens crown and beauty.

    Well this one sista nailed it in the coffin by stating “If you allow white women to be showcased they will be put on a pedestal pushing sistas to the back of the line and one of the will become an “expert” and we will be right back to square one.” And I totally agreed with and we need to start holding black folks who sell us down the river and remove our support for them plain and simple. Every race of group is protective and exclusive but they don’t get called racists but only black folks when we preach Black self love and unity. However, it made me proud to see a growing number of Queens standing their ground and I will support and share your site with my female friends, since I now you ain’t bought and paid for sista.

  3. W 7 July, 2014 at 09:14 Reply

    I see the perspective of the fear of
    White women hijacking the “movement” because historically Blacks create and Whites take, however the issue of curly hair transcends race. Straightening curly hair is not only a Black issue it is a women’s issue. Lorraine Massey discussed this in a book called Curly Girl that she published in 2002. I’d also like to propose that natural hair is not a movement it is an option for hair care and maintenance that should be open to Black women. Movements are transient and they come to an end. The option to wear our hair without straightening it should never cease to exist for us.

    • kitten 14 July, 2014 at 22:02 Reply

      “however the issue of curly hair transcends race. Straightening curly hair is not only a Black issue it is a women’s issue. Lorraine Massey discussed this in a book called Curly Girl that she published in 2002. ”

      Black women’s curly hair is NOTHING like the curly hair of women of other races. Stop this foolishness.

      Why should black women care about the curly hair needs of other-race women? Why can’t we just focus on our own needs? Where were white, Asian and mixed race women with curly hair when black women’s hair was made a symbol of ugliness? Did the women of other races with curly hair step forward to defend our curly hair and declare it as beautiful as their own curly hair? No they did not. They were happy to not have our “ugly”, nappy hair. They felt no compassion for black women who had to straighten their hair to be considered acceptable even to their own black men.

      Many black women have long resented having to process their hair but they did it anyway because of the psychological pain of having hair that society said was the worst of all. Now that many black women have summoned the courage to start loving and accepting their hair, non-black women want to be a part of it.

      No other race of women has had their beauty and hair denigrated like black women. Stop defending and including other-race women. They don’t defend and include us. They do not and never will understand what it is like to be a black woman no matter how much they claim to share similar experiences.

      • WReid 15 July, 2014 at 06:41 Reply

        Every man thinks their burden is the heaviest….

        While Black women have a unique relationship with hair because of the compounded effects of sexism, racism and classism this struggle with straight hair is not only ours.

        White women straighten their hair religiously. They do it every day and are limited in their activity because of their concerns about their hair.

        You should care about other women’s issues to build consensus and create allies. In this instance it is the idea of rejecting a beauty standard that women did not create but one which they perpetuate.

        Hair is unique in that Black women can relate to all women around the sexist manufacturing of external beauty standards, yet it also unites us with Black men from a uniquely female perspective in the way we confront racism.

        Also all Black women’s hair is not the same kind of curly. Some have hair that is more closely related to the curl of White people. Yes, I have met Whites with a ferocious curl or frizz that would have you question the ethnicity of these women.

        Calling my argument foolishness is not an appropriate defense or counterpoint. You call mine foolish I call yours silly and we are at a stalemate. Can we stick to addressing points in the conversation without name-calling?

        • lunanoire 15 July, 2014 at 21:53 Reply

          There are many documented cases of black women fired, denied jobs, and kicked out of school for natural hairstyles. If we are all sisters of the curl, where are the stories about women from other backgrounds experiencing similar losses? Our hair, like our situation, is unique, despite some similarities to other people.

          Who benefits from this “shared sisterhood”? It’s not black women, especially not those with tightly coiled hair.

          • WReid 16 July, 2014 at 07:05

            Which is the very reason we need to build allegiances and create allies. How better to do this than to form a common point where ALL women can identify? If an experience is your own and unique to you no one can ever take it. What specifically have oppressed people ever accomplished or gained without alliances from those in power? By the logic of your argument are you suggesting that those who are tightly coiled should have their own movement because their experience is different from those with looser curls? Or does it make sense for tightly coiled women to use their hair (and race) as a common point to identify and create alliances with other Black women?

        • reese 20 July, 2014 at 15:05 Reply

          If we are not featured in mainstream why should the little spots we have feature non black women. They have 99% of the articles as it is. They can have natural sections in any of the white blogs. They didn’t include or say a peep when black women were not included.

  4. Lynnindc 7 July, 2014 at 20:56 Reply

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, there is no longer a reason to have a black woman as the face of Curly Nikki. It’s just a matter of time. Hope she’s prepared because her departure papers will most likely include a non-compete agreement meaning she will not be able to do anything that is related to curly/coily hair.

    For the person looking for other blogs to consider, try googling your hair type (4a natural hair, etc), and a number of blogs should come up and you can figure out which ones suit you.

  5. Eva 8 July, 2014 at 11:42 Reply

    In AA there is a very important tradition which says, “AA is self supporting through our own contributions.” What it means is that AA won’t accept money from non-AA people and if you do donate money, you can only donate so much.

    The reason for that is this, whoever pays the most, owns all. Meaning, if someone gave a lot of money to AA, that person could have a huge say in things surrounding the program; how the books are written, what kind of people will be allowed in the meetings, and for that reason, non AA people cannot donate to AA.

    What I think happened here is the same thing that I think happened with Carol’s Daughter. Someone probably came up to her and said that biracial women will soon outnumber Black women, meaning hair type 4c will soon be in the minority, and don’t you want to be inclusive and make more money? CN probably saw that there was more money in appealing to all women, rather than only Black women.

    It’s problematic because what it means is that the almighty dollar always wins out.

    I don’t think that Black women will have Black women only spaces unless we become self supporting through our own contributions.

  6. Andrea 30 August, 2014 at 23:49 Reply

    I think don’t think there has been any attempt to hide who owns Curly Nikki. I only recently started looking at CN on a regular basis and I knew full well it’s owned by Textured Media AKA NaturallyCurly. Anyway, I am black. I don’t think black women and white women always have curly hair that is sooo different. It’s more of the social political issues. I follow the curly girl method of caring for my hair which was developed by a white woman. so I think there is a lot blacks and nonblacks can learn from one another.

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