This Post Is From Guest Blogger: Nicole Ntim-Addae
This week, Shea Moisture, a company started by Nyema Tubman and Richelieu Dennis, two Liberians almost 25 years ago, expanded their black niche company to compete with larger name brands such as Pantene by featuring non-black women in their adverts. Black women, like with everything major and minor, jumped down the creators of Shea’s throat.
On one hand, I totally understand why black women feel like they’ve been betrayed by Shea. We have a thought process that thinking that if we build something up, it will stay with us because of loyalty.
Black men become successful? They must have had the backing of the black community, and thus must stay with us. Never mind how hard it was starting them up, with our abyssal high school graduation rates, broken families, and child abuse at home. He can learn to love us through the pain. Marries outside of our race? Damn, he’s a coon and he doesn’t care about the rest of us! Never-mind everything we’ve done to him prior!
Shea is successful. It catered to a demographic that largely spends money on weaves, perms, and hair extensions to wear our hair in styles that can only ever mimic the standard of beauty. Never-mind that black hair’s 4A-C pattern is totally unique to our race. You cannot use the same products for black cotton on white silk. Oh, the natural hair revival is starting to take off! It’s not quite there yet, and it might not be sustained, so we will expand to a larger demographic to make more money.
It’s a double edged sword because typically when black people leave the American community, they don’t come back or when they do, they prey on the weaknesses of the community. Few companies even delve into the realm of black/ethnic hair because there has been so little research on it.
Even worse, do you really think Shea was ever good to begin with? When I started researching for this little rant, I realized just how little research has been down into the study of hair. There have been studies on how 1-3C hair reacts, and Pantene has made a killing on having ‘scientifically’ backed formulas. What about 4C hair? It’s such a dominant hair type that even having 50% of your genes be black guarantees dark, curly hair. Has Shea done any research into why that is? Or how women wear their hair in general? There are few surveys that have been done how black women wear their hair, and you cry that Shea is the only one that understands you?
Other than patronizing Shea by buying its products, have black women as a whole moved to buy shares of Shea so that we could have a say in what happens to the company as it grows? Would you want to expand into the unknown? Buy and sell synthetic hair pieces and bonnets to be the provider for black women and so that we would not be disrespected at Asian owned hair stores? No. We need to think bigger and better next time.
On the other hand, be proud! Isn’t the whole part of patronizing black businesses is the hope it will go mainstream with a black name beside it? Wouldn’t it be nice that every black fashion trend, every catchphrase, every blog on ‘the struggle’ was patented by a black company and sold to the general populous to line our pockets? Wouldn’t it be nice if ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time for that’ and ‘Eyebrows on Fleek’ were just Copyrighted to black business that boldly explored their options with people who go crazy over these slogans? Black people, we spend 1 trillion dollars on useless shit that doesn’t carry over to the next generation, then complain when people leave the community. If they community had something for you, you would stay. If the pastures are greener on the other side, well, don’t get angry when they finally jump the fence.
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