An open letter to Sheryl Underwood about negative black hair comments

September 2, 2013 6 Comments »
An open letter to Sheryl Underwood about negative black hair comments

UPDATE: Sheryl Underwood has apologized about her statements

Dear Sheryl Underwood:

My daughter Mikaela LOVES her kinks and coils or as YOU call it–Nappy Black Hair.

The bigger the puff the more proud my 9 year old is. She is strong, confident and courageous when it comes to her cottony tresses. And no she doesn’t stress when other kids want to touch and feel on her afro puffs. She wears her puffs proudly. I’ve raised her giving praise to her every curl with the hopes that she would love every lock. I’ve also worked to ensure that she would never fall victim to America’s brain-game of what beauty should be and turning her against her own tender tendrils.

But see, Mikaela knows the beauty of who she is because she was taught to love every nook, crannie of her being, curve of her backside,  kink of her coils and brownness of her body.


Unfortunately Sheryl you harbor some hate for yourself and brown babies like mine. And moms like me are appalled that you would use your platform on the daytime show The Talk to bash black hair to an audience of millions who already likely are uneducated about blacks, our hair, our culture and issues that are sensitive to moms like me and our families. It was evident in how they laughed so loudly along with you as you bashed other blacks.

Sheryl, I have nothing against wearing wigs because after-all it is an accessory like jewelry and I wear them too. But it’s the fact that you hate yourself without it. And you hate on anyone who doesn’t want to conform to putting silky straight hair into their head as if it is the holy grail of all hair.

My four daughters are beautiful. My daughter Mikaela has more self-confidence than I ever had as a child. I hated my natural hair and was teased because my mixed friends had the long, silky stuff while my mom struggled to make me feel better about myself by burning my scalp, ear and forehead slathering a lye-induced, cancer-causing perm on top of my brain. And for what? Who did I have to impress at 7, 8 and 9 years old with straight-hair?318

For some reason you recently found it funny to cackle at the fact that Heidi Klum wanted to save her kids kinky hair. You thought it was more than appropriate to talk down about natural black hair implying that no one would want it or keep it or save it for that matter.

You could have easily used your platform to talk about the beauty and diversity of natural black hair from dreadlocks to braids to Bantu knots and afros that touch the sky. And I would think that you would be old enough to know that there is PAIN in the nasty words you spewed on national TV. Hurt that sears as deeply as a Confederate flag being waved in my face and having someone calling me and my kids a nigger.

That was ignorant TALK on The Talk saying to blacks in certain terms that we are ugly, and unworthy with nappy hair that no one seemingly wants and that others find offensive. Black women do not share your sorry sentiments about black hair. It’s jarring that you felt so comfortable on a national platform to tear down black people and once again accelerate stereotypes about black people instead of using that forum to lift us up.

I have 4 daughters with natural hair. And they are every bit of beautiful and so is their hair. I’m sure you come from the lighter-than-a-brown-paper bag era where dark skinned people were looked down on with disdain. So for you being dark with “nappy” hair probably have caused you to hate who you are from the inside out. I do sympathize with you because you have probably endured much hate from having dark skin and have suffered an “African -boatload” of back-handed comments about how you look.

You say you’re a comedian and it was just all jokes? But what you did on national TV reminds me of how many times Richard Pryor used the word Nigger until  he visited Africa and came to realize that there were no niggers there. It was an enlightening moment and an eye opener and such a pivotal moment in his life that he reneged and decided to never use the ugly N-word again. And he educated the world about it.

Sheryl you should use your pain to educate and elevate the masses just like Pryor did even as a comedian. Choose to lift people up and not shoot them down with your words. Black people have a long, hurtful and hateful history when it comes to their image. We are constantly riddled with negative comments about our body image and our hair. What you did was commit black-on-back crime on CBS’ dime. I hope you do have the heart to apologize to the little black girls of the world. Remember no matter how many wigs you wear, you too have kinky hair. Love yourself and free your mind. It’s a terrible thing to waste.

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  1. Kuleen September 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm -

    For goodness sakes, it is just hair! Who cares if it is straight, curly, kinky, braided, black, blonde, orange, or purple. I don’t even care if you have hair.

    When will women learn that we are stronger if we build each other up rather than tearing each other down.

    You would never see a group of men sit around and talk about hair.

  2. cincomom September 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm -

    Amen Kuleen!

  3. Renee September 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm -

    wow! That is a serious helping of self-hate going on right there. Sheryl needs some help, for real.
    My homegirl Mikaela!!! Let her know the real deal Mikaela!!
    I need this video to go viral so Mikaela can make the rounds on the daytime talk shows!!!

  4. cincomom September 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm -

    Thank you Renee!!

  5. Denene Millner September 3, 2013 at 8:11 am -

    Oh. My. Goodness. First of all, Tell Mikaela is my HERO. A hero for ALL OF US. And you SAID THAT in this post. I don’t know who hurt Sheryl and made her feel some type of way about what God’s given her, but she needs to lay down on someone’s couch and work that out in private, not on national TV, and certainly not by dogging us in such a personal, demeaning way in front of a bunch of people who would just as soon cackle than truly understand the constant and consistent attacks against our beauty. I appreciate your words, my love.

  6. Katherine G September 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm -

    I still have my baby boy’s hair from when he got his first hair cut at 5. Sheryl Underwood’s ignorance won’t change how i feel about my hair or how my baby girl feels about her hair. Being a public figure she should watch what she says. Joke or no joke what she says can affect people. I love Mikaela’s response. I would send it to cbs maybe the ladies of the talk will see it.