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Curly Nikki

Hair Abuse, Reloaded…

By January 27th, 202115 Comments

Remember my What the Hell post, from last month? A natural friend of mine called me a couple of nights ago to share that NPR was covering the story. Check it out.

From NPR on August 4th:

Hair is a tricky issue for many black women — and always has been.

A YouTube video showing a young African-American girl having her “nappy” hair brutally combed is sparking a heated debate over parenting styles when it comes to black hair care.

Tell Me More regular parenting contributor Dani Tucker is joined by Teresa Wiltz, who recently wrote about the issue for, and Susan Pettiford, a salon owner who specializes in black natural hair styles. The women offer thoughts on the hair combing video and whether it amounts to child abuse, and they debate whether — even after years of emphasis on black self-awareness and celebration of black aesthetics — hair grooming is still a painful, or brutal, experience for too many young women of color.

Click HERE to listen to the story.

For those of you that missed the original post (and the video) on, click HERE.


  • Unknown says:

    There is an update on this story, the Detroit Police Department, FBI, and Detroits Children Services has finally stepped in and the little girl and her brother have been removed from the home. The woman doing the hair is indeed the mother. Check out for further details!!

  • D_luv says:

    The video turned my stomach, but I feel it's not an isolated incident or situation; brutal hair combing goes on all the time. In my opinion all of Black America could use an education on how to care for our hair at every stage. Now, beyond that, everyone in the video had unacceptable behavior, including the children, which indicates that this is just an out of control household in general. Put aside your instinct to taze the hell out of her and the videographer. Instead of immediately talking about child protective services and taking children (which, frankly, is the easy way out — giving up — and which I think is preemptive because there's no way we can accurately access their home life from a few minutes of video), we should be talking about how we can get that lady an education on how to care for kid's hair, and manage their behavior while doing it, stat.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree! Thats was verbal and pyshical abuse and then to have it taped and post it on the internet. The woman was laughing and cursing out her children, She is not fit to raise children. I hear the way children as young as ten years old talk and its bc thats all they know. They are just familiar with getting cursed out, told off by their parents. You should not be a parent if you talk to your children this way and laugh when you clearly see that they are in pain. I may get told off and alot of you may not agree but i say put that child in a loving home bc that clearly is not love or support and in a sick kind of way I think her mother was just trying to show off the texture as well. You can clearly see that any dummy can tell a little moiturizer and her hair would curl up and Why post the video? What was the point. She is a straight chicken head and a clear example of why we beautiful women of color get a bad rap! Our children deserve better and in my opinion thats in the catergory as the worst.

  • Anonymous says:

    OK, I just saw a link to a Chris Rock movie called "good hair" which sparked a conversation with my wife about this video. I have curly hair (for a white guy anyway) and the thought of someone ripping a comb through it like that make me more than a little sick. And the thought of someone doing it to my future children just pisses me off to no end. I hope that little girl gets some kind of help or at least becomes educated on how to properly take care of her hair one day.
    God I'm still so *#&#'n mad at that woman! I know she doesn't enjoy hearing her child scream like that (although the jerk with the camera seemed to love it)

    OK, off my soapbox and on my way to the basement to lift something heavy until I feel better. I'll just end by saying I love my wife's natural hair and thank you guys for giving her someone to talk to about it.


  • Anonymous says:

    This breaks my heart. I remember being her age and getting my hair done. My mother was not rough. She knew only to detangle wet or thourougly moisturized hair. I have memories of watching my grandmother braid my cousins hair as they slept in her lap. NO fuss. This little girl deserves better.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't think the way the lady was brushing the girl's hair or the language was acceptable. I grew up with very long, THICK hair and was very tenderheaded on top of that. The whole reason my mother pressed my hair, then gave me a relaxer at 11 years old in the first place is because she couldn't bear to see her child in tears while getting her hair done. Not condoning relaxers or chemical processes but just giving an example that no mother should want to see their child scream and cry in pain like that. And that woman was enjoying it. Either learn how to do the girl's hair, take her to someone else who does, or make it more manageable for her.

  • Anonymous says:

    i just couldn't even get through half of that interview.. I should say i'm not a mother… and I don't think that was intentional abuse (the combing that is)… but I personally kno it's painful.. and most of us have had that experience in our lives… but wat upset me was the woman on the npr interview who was just down playing it like it was nothing…
    it's sad that still after all of these years many of us black women have not learned how to care for lil girl's hair. I think of the countless people who just think "oh it's just something she has to deal with, i had to or my daughter has to" but none of them stop to think that she doesn't … that there possibly could be another way…
    I truly believe that this is where some of the "hair hatred" come from… little girls wishing that their hair could be straight and manageable … if more mothers take the time to learn how to properly care for would teach their kids' hair then would young girls could grow up loving the hair that God gave them and have the freedom to wear it as is or relaxed or bright blue.. as long as they love wat they have first and can care for it

  • Aron Ranen says:

    Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

    It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

    It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

    Kinda like Madame C.J. Walker in Reverse….a tragic comedy.

    I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

    Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

    Can it be taken back?


  • Anonymous says:

    Watching it now. . .I'm speechless.

  • KeetaRay says:

    Good Afternoon, ladies!! I agree with one of the previous posters re: the caretaker's language being abusive. Abuse is not just physical, it's also verbal. Children internalize a lot of what is said to them and carry it well into adulthood. Trust me, I know. And it's not easy changing your mindset. The caretaker REALLY needs to be checked on both how to do a child's hair properly AND on how to talk to them. This was a GREAT post, Nikki. Thanks for this.

  • clarahallow121 says:

    I can't believe I missed it! I love NPR!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow I missed the original post. I would like all of those people in the comments who questioned whether or not that woman is/was abusive to skip over the hair part and the child acting out. Just hearing the way she talked to that child my abuse alarm is going off. But that doesn't mean I don't think the woman couldn't be taught some sense and parenting skills. The woman clearly doesn't know how to parent and is abusing instead. All of us probably knew someone who was tenderheaded and a drama queen when getting their hair combed, but is that how the adult treated the child in your memories? If so, that was abuse too. Recognize.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm sorry but my daughter does not cry when I do her hair because I make sure it is moisturized and taken care of. When I comb it I am gentle and careful not to rip through her hair. This is ridiculous!

  • b. says:

    I'm so glad the salon owner pointed out exactly HOW the mom is "brushing" the girl's hair (in one spot and without deliberate method). Two of the women also pointed out how the woman seemed bitter about the girl's hair and having to do it. Whew. While I can appreciate a difference of opinion, Ms. Tucker's assessment of the situation was a bit too lenient. Yes, that's "her child" but some level of intervention (preferably education and anger management) is warranted. I have a feeling this hair brushing episode is indicative of much more than a beauty ritual.

    I'm also glad they included a Web Exclusive on HOW to do children's hair. Maybe the lady who did the video will listen to it. Maybe.

  • Mae says:

    That's crazy! I was just going to email you about this story today. I heard it in the car as I was driving home one day and I had to stay in the car to listen to it even after I reached home. I even recorded it on my iPhone! (Glad to know that its online)

    The mother's point of view (Dani Tucker) I thought was very interesting. She didn't believe that the situation was abuse and pointed out that if abuse charges were filed and the little girl was taken away from her caretaker…what then??

    I personally feel that the caretaker(no one is sure if that was her mother) was excessively harsh in dealing with her child's hair and the foul language was out of line! However, if that is the only instance where the mother was "abusive" to her daughter, then taking the child away from her would actually be more damaging to the child, I feel.

    Don't get me wrong though, I think the caretaker definitely needs some schooling on how to care for her daughter's hair and how to talk to children in a way that conveys love and care.

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