If the sorority Pi Nappa Kappa doesn’t sound familiar to you, you’re not alone.
The group was founded earlier this summer by Leola Anifowoshe, the self-proclaimed authority on natural haircare, for women of “African descent.” (Clearly, the natural hair craze has reached a new level when a faux-Greek organization can be organized around it.)
Anifowoshe’s vision for Pi Nappa Kappa (“Nappa,” of course, isn’t a letter in the Greek alphabet, but an allusion to “natural” or “nappy” hair) is to serve as a group and space where natural hair enthusiasts can voice their concerns, share their stories and support each other towards a healthier lifestyle. The sorority operates under the Natural Healthy Hair Society, which is also run by Anifowoshe.
“It’s about sisterhood, that’s why I call it a sorority,” Anifowoshe told HuffPost BlackVoices.
Nearly 600 women have already pledged the sorority, but Anifowoshe’s goal is to have 10,000 members by the end of the year. There is no hazing or any formal ceremonies involved in the intake process. All that’s required is an electronic signature on the organization’s pledge document.
The pledge states:
As a member of the Pi Nappa Kappa Natural Hair Sorority, I pledge that:1. I am a smart, special, valuable person!
2. I respect myself and I respect others.
3. My words and actions are kind and honest.
4. I will respect the dignity and essential worth of all individuals.
5.I will promote the diversity of opinions, ideas, hairstyles and backgrounds which is the lifeblood of the sorority.
6. I will promote a culture of respect throughout the natural hair community.
7. I will not tolerate bigotry, discrimination, violence, or intimidation of any kind.
8. I will practice personal integrity and expect it from others.
9. I will always be proud of my natural born hair.
10. I accept only my best in all I do.
I am PROUD to be ME!
The organization has already garnered over 1,600 “likes” on Facebook, but not everyone is a fan. Some members of historically black sororities have voiced their distain for the organization’s use of the word “sorority” and what the group stands for.
Reacting to a YouTube video addressing the need for a natural hair sorority, NaturalSnP08 wrote: “As a member of a real sorority, I do not feel this is necessary. Here’s why. Traditional African American fraternities and sororities were founded, [because] we could not belong to white [organizations]. However, we accept anybody regardless of HAIR TYPE! So, is there a need? NO! [This] sends a message that if you have natural hair, that you don’t belong…not true!”
Anifowoshe contests that since the word sorority means “sisterhood” there is no reason she can’t use it. She also insists that she is not trying to create a divide between natural-haired women and those who prefer to relax their hair.
“My biggest concern is that the women we’re here to serve are the same ones trying to tear us down,” Anifowoshe said. “I welcome women with relaxed hair to join the conversation and attend our events to see that we’re not just talking about hair, but also about being better mothers, eating properly and taking care of ourselves.”
It’s an affirming sentiment, but natural hair remains the cornerstone of the organization.
Pi Nappa Kappa will host its first National Meetup on December 10-11 at the Reliant Center in Houston, Texas (VIP admission is $50). And this Labor Day weekend, the sorority is one of the main sponsors of Isis Brantley’s “World Natural Hair Parade and Festival.”