Natural Hair “Sorority” Entangled in Debate

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The first meeting has been set for the inaugural class of Pi Nappa Kappa, a natural hair “sorority” founded by a group of young women who want to free women of color from what they say is a stigma attached to wearing natural hairstyles.

The first national natural hair meetup will take place Dec. 10-11 at the Reliant Center in Houston.

Women interested in joining the sorority must sign up by Dec. 9, and can take the pledge to go natural at www.pledgebank.com/PiNappaKappa. Details are also available on the organization’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NaturalHairSorority.

Leola Anifowoshe, who founded the group on July 4, told The Hilltop, Howard University’s student newspaper, that more than 2,200 people had signed up by Nov. 13 and she hoped to have 10,000 members by Dec. 9.

The group is not an official sorority. For one thing, a bona fide Greek organization must use actual letters from the Greek alphabet. The word “Nappa,” derived from the word “nappy,” does not comply. But Anifowoshe has said the organization is about “sisterhood,” which is why she calls it a sorority.

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Support, however, is not universal.

“I don't believe that you need a sorority to make yourself feel at home with your natural hair,” said Rachel Dawson, a sophomore at Howard University who is a member of T.A.N.G.L.E.S., a natural hair support club on campus. “I'm perfectly happy being nappy without having to attach Greek letters, especially made up ones, to create a sisterhood over hair. I just don't think it's that deep.”

Ashley Smith, also a Howard sophomore, agreed.

“I think a club is sufficient enough to supper those with natural hair because I don't see the point in having to pledge into a sorority to celebrate your hair,” Smith said. “T.A.N.G.L.E.S. acts as a group where we can learn about the ins and outs of our hair without having to go through a Greek process to do so.”

Devin Cromartie, a senior and a member of AKA, said she wasn’t upset by Greek-like group.

“It doesn't necessarily bother me; I think it’s a cool thing that she is trying to build a sisterhood with girls who have natural hair.

“However,” Cromartie said, “there is a distinction between having a club and sorority. I am in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and as a sorority we have a deeper bond between each other than we would if it were just a club. So for the founder of Pi Nappa Kappa to create a sorority for natural hair to deepen the bond between members, I can't be mad at that.”