In the late 90s, during the frontier days of the natural hair movement, we had no special “curl definers,” natural hair “puddings” or “detangling” products. And if we were in a conundrum about how to take care of our kinks, coils and curls, since youtube did not exist and natural hair salons were rare, we looked around until we found another naturalista and talked to her. This is what happened to natural hair advocate, Linda “Mosetta” Jones two decades ago.
She was at work one day when a friend confided in her that she could not find anyone who could adequately groom her locs. Linda suggested that the friend come over to her house and they would do each others hair. In addition, Linda knew other women in the same position so she invited them as well and the first Nappy Hair Affair was born. Linda has continued to host the event every spring since then in various locations around Dallas, TX.
Over the years as the natural hair movement gains steam there are annual natural hair events across the country, still the Nappy Hair Affair remains a model for many of the gatherings that followed. One of the Hair Day regulars dubbed Linda “Mosetta” as in female Moses for fostering a feeling of ‘freedom’ from hair bondage and negative self-perceptions.
The Nappy Hair Affair celebrates 20 years in June with a “Roots Reunion.” We caught up with Linda to talk to her about the evolution of the event as well as her own natural hair journey.
GN: Over the last decade more and more Black women have been kicking the relaxers to the curb. In your opinion what is the impetus behind so many Black women returning to natural hair?
LJ: There have been several reasons. Some have grown weary of using chemical relaxers and dissatisfied with the adverse effects that they can cause over time. Others have gone natural as a fleeting fashion statement. But a growing number of Black women have chosen to go natural due to a new or renewed appreciation of their own natural hair texture and embracing one of the most unique characteristic of their culture. That is the reason that I am most impressed with.
GN: Visitors to the Roots Reunion; 20th Anniversary, A Nappy Hair Affair
will experience a “day of communal natural hair grooming” what does this entail?
LJ: It will be an “open air hair affair” in that we will come together on the grounds of Recipe Oak Cliff, a vegan snack and juice bar and set up to have a Hair Day gathering of hair grooming, entertainment, vending and socializing. It will happen in the spirit of the first Hair Day 20 years ago when we gathered in my backyard for potluck, grass-roots hair grooming sessions. It was communal because there was no one stylist that we came to see to get our hair “did,” but we simply picked partners and took turns twisting, braiding, palm rolling locs, and sharing our collective hair styling skills. Guests bought their own towels and hair products to the Hair Day gatherings and we rotated locations as we continued to have them. They took place at various, churches, school campuses and community centers.
GN: How has the Nappy Hair Affair evolved over the last 20 years?
LJ: A Nappy Hair Affair became known for energizing the natural hair movement. Our Hair Day gatherings drew media attention and the concept spread among women in other cities and even abroad, spawning groups such as the Southern Kinks, D.C. Naturals and sisters in Switzerland dubbed themselves the “EuroNaps.” I was invited to speak, facilitate “hairepy sessions,” and do book signings. ANHA inspired me to write my book Nappyisms: Affirmations for Nappy-headed People and Wannabes!”, publish a newsletter called Nappy News and a Naturally-Speaking blog and co-produce a stage production, called “Love and Nappiness Revue.” One of my book essays was featured in ‘Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul,” and this past April and May, my hair monologue called “The Sound,” was commissioned to be performed in a Dallas one-act play festival.
GN: What plans do you have for the event in the future?
LJ: A Nappy Hair Affair will remain an initiative that that celebrates wearing natural and African-inspired hairstyles and promotes African-American culture and identity, but it is imperative that we play a role in countering acts of social injustice and systemic racism. Moving forward, the ANHA platform will also be one that promotes “naptivism” – in other words, we will become activists for positive change for people of African descent. In keeping with that commitment our Roots Reunion event will have a voter registration table set up to encourage civic involvement.
GN: Can you tell us a little about your own natural hair journey?
LJ: I started wearing my hair naturally during the summer of my senior year in high school. Before then I used hot combs to keep my hair straightened. On two brief occasions I used a perm relaxer and a curly perm. Both experiences were short-lived and disastrous. I have worn natural Afros and cornrows and as my hair-thinning condition of alopecia intensified, I began to augment my braid and loc styles with hair extensions. Eventually I lost most of my natural hair and began celebrating the African-inspired look ‘symbolically’ with loc and Afro hairpieces and keeping my ‘nappy mind’ fully intact!
GN: You are a journalist and you also have a license to style natural hair. Can you tell us a little about your professional journey in these two areas and is there a connection?
LJ: In my work as a journalist I wrote extensively about Black issues, and often used natural hair matters as a device to address deeper racial matters. I was the reporter who broke what became a national story about a Dallas hair braider being cited for braiding hair without a Texas cosmetology license. The controversy that followed and my coverage of it led to the state changing the regulation and allowing natural hair stylists to work under a special category. Since my coverage was partly responsible for making licensing more accessible, and as my own loc grooming skills developed, I decided to apply for a license for myself.
GN: As a natural hair advocate, what is your greatest concern right now in regards to Black women and their hair?
LJ: I believe in Black women having a choice to wear their hair however they wish. My concern is over the extremes that some will go to maintain a certain texture or achieve a look that is more European due to a colonized mindset. Fashion experimentation is one thing but abandonment of self-appreciation is another.
GN: Do you have any advice for those struggling with the time and energy required to take care of natural hair?
LJ: Take the time and energy. It’s worth it.
GN: How can readers contact you, website, instagram, facebook, etc?
GN: Thank you so much Linda. Congratulations on 20 years, wishing you many more years of continued success. Register at their facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/363757584117521/