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Recently, I wrote a column about how kitchens are perceived by black women who were born with nappy hair. As a confirmed napologist, I felt it necessary to enlighten my readers by putting the kitchen into its proper cultural context.

I explained that for many black women born with nappy hair, the kitchen is not just a place where food is cooked but it was the place where our hair was cooked. When we were young, the kitchen was where we went to undergo the unpleasant ritual of having our nappy hair straightened with the dreaded hot comb.

But if I am to stay true to my side profession I cannot stop there. The kitchen has still another cultural connotation for people with nappy hair.

The kitchen, dear readers, is also the nickname for the hair that resides at the nape of our necks. It is the place where our most rebellious kinks congregate. Hair that takes root and grows in our kitchens is the nappiest, curliest, kinkiest and the most resistant to change.

We already know that in unenlightened circles, nappiness is viewed as an unacceptable hair texture and the word “nappy” is a pejorative term. In that context, you can imagine how much our nappy kitchens are viewed with disdain. Those of us who are deeply afflicted with nap denial have gone through great lengths to obliterate that shameful section of our heads. If it took a double dose of chemicals or removal by razor to keep our kitchens in the closet, it was worth it.

But negative perceptions notwithstanding, the kitchen was a powerful place.

It was the area that my mother struggled with most during my hot comb rite of passage. While the hair on the rest of my head readily surrendered to the smoking hot comb, my kitchen did not give up without a fight.

I have a name of honor for my kitchen hair. I call it “Nap Turner.” My Nap Turner hair reminds me of the heroic slave Nat Turner who rebelled against oppression. “Nap Turner,” my nappy “hairo,” righteously rebels against being o-pressed by hot combs and chemical relaxers.

Even the nap-savvy Afro pick has lost a few teeth during expeditions into our kitchens. And pity our love partners of another hue who expected smooth sailing when they tried to run their fingers through our hair. When they passionately navigated their way into the density of our kitchens they were unexpectedly thrown off “coarse.” Much like disappearing into the void of the Bermuda Triangle, those probing fingers got forever lost in the kitchen kink!

Our kitchens have been such a deeply rooted institution that they have even commanded the respect of the Ivy League. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the esteemed Harvard professor, paid homage in his memoir, "Colored People."

“If there was ever one part of our African past that resisted assimilation, it was the kitchen,” Brother Gates proclaims. “No matter how hot the iron, no matter how powerful the chemical, no matter how stringent the mashed-potatoes-and-lye formula of a man’s “process,” neither God nor woman nor Sammy Davis Jr., could straighten the kitchen.

The kitchen was permanent, irredeemable, invincible kink. Unassimilably African. No matter what you did, no matter how hard you tried, nothing could de-kink a person’s kitchen.”

How’s that for validation?

If a Harvard intellectual can celebrate the wonderful condition of our kitchens then why should we take heat from those who don’t have a clue?


Contact Linda or read her bio.

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My hair is 4a/b & my kitchen has always been the softest most easily damaged part of my hair. In fact it has one quarter to 50 cent-sized area at the base of my skull where the hair is almost wavy & very close to type 2-3 & it always grew longer than the rest of my hair.

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