In the 17th century (and long before and after), Europeans tried to establish their superiority over African slaves in many ways, and one of those, say historians, was by trying to degrade their physical appearance. This included the color of their skin, their body types, and hair types.
Europeans degraded African hair types by using the term “nappy” which came to be synonymous with “dirtiness” or “unruliness.”
Still today, many of those associations remain in tact to degrade black communities and people.
“Hair texture was one of the many rationalizations of the perceived sub-human status of the African, according to Silvio Torres-Saillant, a professor of humanities at Syracuse University,” reports NPR.
The persistence of these racial slurs has led to the continued degradation of black individuals for the way they look, even though these slurs are founded on hatred and superiority.
“[Nappy] will only cease to be offensive when the racism in a society that makes certain physical characteristics to be set aside for ridicule goes away,” said Zine Magubane, who is a sociology professor at Boston College, as reported by NPR.
Read Full Story: NPR