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Every now and then I have readers who challenge my views about nappiness and related things.

I welcome their comments. It helps me in my efforts to steer clear of dogma, and to keep my rhetoric in check.

Angela Dougan-Akuoku of New York emailed me recently to offer constructive criticism about my perceptions of the word “nappy.”

It doesn’t sit well with Angela that I consider the word an acceptable description of our kinky-textured hair.

“ . . . the word was never meant to be flattering and many people can't forget its negative and derogatory connotation,” Angela writes. “They shouldn't have to forget it, and they shouldn't be told to turn the word around into something positive.”

“We don't have to embrace and try to make positive the ‘N’ word, the word nappy, or the word ‘darkie’ or any of the other put-downs that Caucasians hurled (and sometimes still hurl) at our community."

Angela’s passionate and thought-provoking comments gave me pause.

Personally, I have no problem with anyone using the nappy word to describe the texture of my hair. That’s what it is. I don’t consider it a bad thing. But I did a little soul searching to find out whether I am actually guilty of trying to persuade others to “turn the word around into something positive” as Angela suggests.

I am.

The evidence of my attempt to do so is in my book, “Nappyisms: Affirmations for Nappy-Headed People and Wannabes!”

My book has a "New Growth Naptionary," a twisted glossary of words and definitions that designed to expand your nappy vocabulary and help you speak with authority when engaged in conversations about the kink!

In my New Growth Naptionary, the word the word nappy is redefined and completely devoid of negativity. Nappy, in my book, is “hair that is “kinky, willful, versatile and free." It is “hair that is ‘good’ but gets a ‘bad’ rap from the unenlightened.”

Yes, I stand guilty of putting a positive spin on a word that is negatively perceived.

Angela’s letter also strongly expresses her feelings that African-Americans cannot and should not forget the negative and derogatory connotation that the word carries.

For the record, let me say that I am not suggesting that we should. The negative stigma that the word carries, and way it has been used to offend, is not easy to forget.

But it also isn’t that difficult to ignore. That’s what I have chosen to do.

One thing that I most appreciated receiving from Angela were the wise words of Samuel Cornish and John B. Russworm, the men who founded the Freedom’s Journal -- the first newspaper published by African-Americans. She included their quotes to bolster her position on this matter.

"We wish to plead our own cause,” Cornish and Russworm wrote. “Too long have others spoken for us."

In my own way, Angela, that’s all I’m trying to do.

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