Don’t Touch My Hair
First of all, I want to start off by paying homage to our goddess Solange. Her latest album, When I Get Home is breaking the internet, as it deserves I might add! I think it makes sense to shout her out during Women’s History Month, because she is definitely making history with her stimulating artistry.
Solange is using her platform to discuss serious issues that affect women (and men too of course) like race, trauma, and hair! With all the buzz from her latest album, we can’t forget to have A Seat At The Table vibes. Don’t Touch My Hair had and STILL has the culture shook.
We have all heard it from black women’s beautiful full lips; DO. NOT. TOUCH. MY. HAIR. Some of my melanin mamacitas have made it clear; DO. NOT. EVEN. ASK. to touch our hair. I’m just going to take it a step further and throw this out there…… When people have shared these experiences with me it has always been someone from another racial background touching their hair. I normally relate to peers’ racial conflicts, however in this case I normally struggled to agree.
There was this small burning flame glimmering in hope at the center of my heart. I hoped that if a white person had any curiosity in my coils or curls that they would be as bold as to find the words, “Do you mind if I touch your hair?” I wanted them to feel invited to my culture. I thought the best way to shred the ignorance from their minds was to allow them a step closer to my black girl magic world. I always knew they would never ever understand any black person’s struggle. However, I am determined to make some sort of progress, even if it is through trial and error.
My friends and co-workers who share different cultures from me have reached for lock after lock, and I never had a problem with it…. until recently.
I always cross my fingers and wish for an uneventful night when I drive for Uber. Not too long ago, I saddled the horse and went out ready to be of service. One of my least favorite pick-ups are bars. The drunkies that slide in my car are sometimes fun, but usually a bit too extra. After awaiting my next guests at a bar, they entered my car and right in the passenger seat sat a Chatty (and very drunk) Cathy. (I already feel like you have to be a little bold to sit in the passenger seat when the car is not full.)
Didn’t take Miss Chatty Cathy long before she noticed my golden Afro. She appeared to be mesmerized, and she couldn’t take her eyes of my mane. She immediately mentioned something along the lines of….. “Look at that Afro, it looks so good.” After the compliment that I accepted in gratitude, she began to attempt to ask me questions about my hair. It appeared that she was struggling to get her questions out, because she did not want to offend me. It was almost painful to listen to, because she could not get the words out. (I am well aware that alcohol has this affect as well. My intuition tells me that was only part of her struggle.) I proceeded to answer her broken questions with “It does not take me long to detangle. Conditioner and a comb makes it super easy to work with……..”
Now please let me know if this sounds like some sort of invitation…
As I continued to answer questions as if she were a tourist and I was her tour guide, I reached to grab my hair. (I talk with my hands, for the record.) Welp, somehow she took that and ran with it and found the nerve to run her fingers through my Afro.
If you are wondering did I forget to add in the part where she asked permission… I did not. I struggle with conflict, so I just sat there like a mannequin in a store. My whole body locked up as I felt an immediate rush of discomfort. I tried to give her a pass. Not because she was drunk, but because she was hairstylist. (I found this out as she tried to tell me how she yearned to be trained in styling “my type” of hair.) I couldn’t help but to feel like a museum exhibit. I don’t know how but I ended up with her business card after she asked me to let her dye my hair. (She was nice but obviously hard pass.) I’m telling y’all, this chain of emotions reminded me of Get Out vibes. I was sinking into the sunken place. I felt dehumanized.
FINALLY, I understood why my fellow black women did not want their hair touched. I’m not even sure if it had anything to do with her not asking before she touched, but quite frankly, I. DO. NOT. GIVE. A. CARE. I’m letting readers know now, ask before you enter somebody’s personal space and touch their hair. I want to heavily suggest that you prepare yourself for a no in response and respect that no. For anybody who struggles with assertion, please assert your right to deny people of entering your personal space. The conflict of the sunken place is much worse than the conflict of an awkward rejection. Our hair is the feelings we wear… (Solange reference lol).
Love and Light,
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