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Curly Nikki

I Object! A Natural Attack on Afros?

By January 27th, 202125 Comments
by Candice Rigdon of The Frizzness

Alrighty, I am by no means an overly-sensitive, controversial curly. I wholeheartedly believe that POSITIVE energy begets POSITIVE results. But I really couldn’t hold my tongue (er, uh – pen) on this one.

My coils are weeping a bit.

Long story short my mane had it’s feelings hurt the other night whilst watching the reality show “Dance Moms.” In this particular eppy, the “instructor” Ms. Abby dressed little African-American cutie Nia (age 10, not pictured) in a leopard print jumpsuit with a curly afro, giving her an “ethnic” dance solo to “They Call Me LaQueefa.” (I’d never heard of the song, & don’t care to again. For real; my ears itched after hearing it). Nia’s mother Holly went slap off, saying over & over again she didn’t want her little girl wearing a “stereotypical, 70’s afro” & dancing to that music because it was not her black experience. Not to mention, the other girls happened to have solos potraying angels in beautiful costumes & such. Holly exclaiming to the other mommies that Ms. Abby “might as well have my baby picking cotton w/an Aunt Jemima wig on” was like rusty nails being snatched through my kinks. OUCH.

Now, while Ms. Abby’s choices would raise eyebrows of ANY background (the choreography was trash with little more than rump-shaking & eye-winking), I was a little more than hurt that Holly viewed afros this way. I mean, really? Although the wig was uber atrocious (Holly picked it out), and I see where Holly was going, I wish she’d chosen better words to describe her anger/frustration. She is an educated, articulate, seemingly classy woman, who’s been holding off getting with tyrant Abby for a minute. I think any reasonable parent would, given how poorly Ms. Abby treats the girls & rides Nia’s back. Even so, little Nia always handles herself with more grace & elegance than many adults even with a Shrek-ish woman yelling in her face! Constantly. Verbal smackdown time had come. But maybe it arrived on the shoulders of naturalistas?

By the way, I saw a post where I believe Holly stated on Twitter that Nia began school this year in braids. I do not believe Holly has it in for naturals… I think anger took control. After all, there’s nothing like a mamma scorned. And creative television editing. Hmmmmm.

What are your thoughts? Are we too sensitive? Does our one crown of hair represent the entire natural community? And finally: Is Lifetime Television indeed the devil?

25 Comments

  • hc says:

    @poster of Sept 22, 2011

    If I wake up in the morining and CHOOSE to wear tacky clothing and to portray a stereotype that's a COMPLETELY different story and experience than when SOMEONE ELSE makes that choice for me.

    YES, you're right in making that observation – WRONG in seeming to think it's hypocritical.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think people are a little too over sensitive why is an afro a badthing? I bet if holly or nia's hair wasn't permed they'd have an afro -_- also I hate hearing that the catsuit and afro were "racist" and why is nia the only one that has that attire? Well duh becauseeee she's black! It would look almost silly to have a white girl play the role of "laqueefa" .. I mean really she's playing a role when she goes on stage all dancers do and her role was a a black woman from the 70's , so they're going to dress her in a costume that represents what black women wore in that era, big deal. I hate when people want to pretend like they live in another world and really believe that laqueefa is a name that all cultres share. Sorry to bust yur bubble but the stats are against you. Find me a mexican woman named laqueefa you probably won't, but you'll find a million rosas or marias but they don't complain because they know its true. I'm a black woman and I hve to honestly say I've never met another race that cries about stereotypical crap as much as black ppl do and that's mho . I guess its okay to be black when your getting a scholarship specifically made for minorities or young black youth, I guess its okay to be black and dress in tacky clothing if your a superstar but the minute someone points out that your black its like what?! No I'm just like everyone else my skin doesn't define me blah blah ….. anyway that's just my rant on the hypocrites, now as for my opinion on the piece itself blehh no way was tht "ethnic" …if aby wanted a true ethnic piece she could've had her doing an actual african caribe piece or something….to me it was just a fun themed piece….

  • Anonymous says:

    I think what is really upsetting was the way the teacher treated the little girl not what the mom had to say. I don't think the mom has a problem with afros. I think she has a problem with the teacher basically saying her daughter wasn't black enough. The teacher treated that little girl like crap the entire show.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well the song came from Shangela from Ru Paul's Drag race, so it is in no way intended to be taken seriously.

    I have not seen the show, but I have heard about it, and I'm still perplexed about the child STILL PERFORMING… I don't understand her mother at all. If you don't like it, then take the baby out. Why did she allow her to continue on with the performance in the first place? Can we address that??

  • Anonymous says:

    ITS UNFAIR BECAUSE THE OTHER WHITE LITTLE GIRLS GOT TO BE ANGELS! ALL LITTLE GIRLS WANT TO BE BEAUTIFUL ANGELS. SHE COULD HAVE STUCK AN AFRO ON HER HEAD AND LET HER STILL BE AN ANGEL.

  • Sophie says:

    What Holly said about the afro doesn't sound like she was hating on the afro in particular… it was a round 70s wig. A stereotype. Although I do understand the idea that Nia will have different roles to audition for than the other girls, just like any actor or other performer who is part of a different demographic would, you cant't convince me that she's preparing for serious roles by shaking her booty and calling herself LaQueefa. If that's all there is for black women who dance, then we have a huge problem. There could be a black sugarplum fairy!

    Also, Abby said she needed to do it because it was a "cultural" experience. That's what really ground my beans. Tacky "dancing" to club music is cultural? If I was Holly I would be rather peeved as well, but Abby acts like she's the key to success so these moms can't stand up to her.

  • Anonymous says:

    I 1000% agree with Tamar-Charmaine. Nia is not going to play the role of the white swan when it comes to real life dancing. Abby has the idea but not the technique. If she wants to teach Nia how to do ethnic dances, she should learn them herself.
    As for Holly, she is entitled to her opinion, sure. We all are. But in my opinion, she is upset at Abby for sterotyping yet she is stereotyping the Afro, is she not?

  • Anonymous says:

    http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/dance-moms/video/season-1/episode-7/episode-7-shes-a-fighter

    Look at Holly's face at 17:16

    Nia's dance with wig at 37:38

    Hmmmmm, yeah-no. Mommy paid for and expected Anna Pavlova, and she got rumpshakin' LaQueefa.

    Mom does has some racial hangups which should not confused with the issue of the typecasted dance roles child is receiving.

    Abby is more concerned with preparing Nia for getting calls to dance, especially any minority roles that come her way. She states the dances should be performed correctly. Well, that didn't look like Alvin Ailey to me – it looked like Olympic gymnastics set to a club beat.

    Mom Holly is concerned that her child isn't being exposed to more sophisticated classical roles – she seems afraid Nia may not be able to compete for ALL calls that arise, be they classical, jazz, or modern dance.

    For the mothers to say that the leopard-tard and wig was wrong, atrocious, and ugly, does much more harm than Abby Lee's short-sightedness and bias.

  • Brianna S.V. says:

    I believe that you're right when you say Holly does not have it out for naturals. On her twitter account, she said that Nia does not have a perm. So I believe that Holly was right when asking if the best Abby could do was come up with an afro to portray black or "ethnic" people. Black people are not limited to afros and leopard prints. And I believe that is the point Holly was trying to get across.

  • Anonymous says:

    I watched that episode and ones before it. I agree with an above poster that Holly could have been more aggressive with Abby about the performance, but at the same time, I think the whole point of the show is to show Abby in a particular light. The end result every time is going to be Abby getting her way and the moms are left to complain and fight another day. I do feel that while Nia is just as talented as the other girls, it is more of a fun thing for her (as it should be); she's less serious about it like the little pink girls.

  • Anonymous says:

    Tv will always portray blacks in a stereotypical way. Ppl aren't aware of this before deciding to go on tv, or worse, put their child on tv??

  • ACHA says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have to agree with the first commenter. Why watch shows like this that clearly exploits children? Shows like Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras, so an and so forth always leave a bad taste in my mouth and I refuse to watch and feed the madness. Judging from the commercials, it’s nothing but over dramatized television that takes advantage of children, especially if there is an “adult” yelling in a child’s face and carrying on like a raging lunatic. Think about it. Its one thing to punish a child for truly doing something wrong but yelling in their face (or in the face of the parent while the child watches) for the sake of ratings is something totally different. Absolute madness! With that being said, if you really want to send Lifetime TV a message about your distaste in the show, then stop watching. The ratings will fall and the show will get canceled.

    PS: The little lady in the picture is absolutely adorable!

  • Tamar-Charmaine says:

    I watched this episodes and felt the same, I understand where the teacher Abby was coming from black people have so much advantage in the dance world we can be Alvin Ailey and we can be in the New York City Ballet and we can be in a hip hop video, nia goes to a predominantly white school and dance school..shes not exposed to her culture where to when she grows up most black girls who are going to be vying for the same jobs will..its sad but until you make a name for yourself you get type cast (halle Berry in B.A.P.S) On the other hand I totally agree with Holly why can't she be a angel, the dance she did was nothing ethnic more acrobat , growing up I went to a all black dance school so I know what ethnic dance is and that was not it…why couldn't nia be a african queen and dance to african music then instead of ru-paul b.scott bootleg music…white americans are sooo clueless

  • Unknown says:

    I felt a certain type of way when I watched the show myself. I was a little shocked with how the episode went. I agree with Michelle. she could have been more stern with her opinion because Abby certainly didn't get the message!

  • Michelle @ Radiant Brown Beauty says:

    I saw this too. It was insulting but honestly I feel her mother could have been more aggressive. She didn't have to let her get away with that mess.

  • Anonymous says:

    The kid in the pic is a beauty!

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw that too. To be honest I wasnt shocked that she said that but it was still a little bit annoyed by it

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw this episode. And while Abby justified her reasoning for the afro and dance… preparing her to audition for "ethic" roles which would not be open to the other girls…I didn't like how she carried out her message. I didn't like how money became an issue and I understood Holly pointing out the her daughter was constantly pushed in this direction. I think Abby should have taken and should take time out with parents to discuss roles that their children will play prior to introducing them to the children.

    I thought Holly's point, although not articulated in this way, was … to allow her daughter to branch out and embrace multiple forms and styles of dance.

    I had trouble sleeping that night and happened across this episode…

    I did think that "Holly" was reaching although when she mentioned that next her daughter would be wearing a bandana and picking cotton ….

  • Anonymous says:

    If Holly's comments caused you or your mane to have hurt feelings, then I would say you are too sensitive. I rock an afro most days, and I wasn't offended by her comments. She's entitled to her opinion. Not everyone loves or even likes natural hair, and that's OK. Sometimes we just need to get over ourselves.

  • Anonymous says:

    I saw this episode as well as I was trapped in the house thanks to Hurricane Irene. Abby is calculating and she knew what she was doing. What I find odd is that Holly would continually subject her child to that hateful, wide-backed albatross Abby. I would have BEEN pulled my child out of that dance school.

  • Erica Bunker says:

    I watched that episode and others before it. I'm addicted to hating Abby. Nia's hair IS natural. It's usually in a big curly ponytail or sometimes blown straight. I get where Holly was coming from. What? Was Nia not "black enough"? Why did she need an afro wig if her NATURAL HAIR didn't go into an afro on its on?! Holly said that was not her black experience. And that's fine with me. And it should be fine with anyone else.

  • Anonymous says:

    Im not familiar with the show but I dont think mom was wrong at all. Why is it the (Im assuming) only black child being made to do this dance routine while the other girls are made to be angels? Hmmmmmmmm. If that is not "her experience" as mom put it she has every right to be pissed, I would be too! And no doubt would not mix words about why my child. WHY WHY WHY did this little girl have to be "ethnic" and not an angle like the other girls is a better question. *side eye*

  • Anonymous says:

    That little girl is sooo CUTE!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the real problem here is….why on Earth are you watching Dance Moms?

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