Don’t Touch My Hair

I wish I could say that this is not a problem today, but the story I’m about to tell you happened to me a few months ago. It inspired me to write this article. Now disclaimer: this is not to make anyone feel bad or attacked. This is just to put into perspective what some black women experience regularly in our daily lives. 

STORYTIME:

Here is a little background on me that will be important to the story later: I am a twin, and at the time we were both going on a trip to Guatemala except we were going to completely different parts of Guatemala. Growing up we were raised to be very respectful to those older than us. 

On a beautiful Thursday evening I decided it was about the appropriate time for me to take my fifteen-minute break from work and get some dinner. I got a luau pizza (yes pineapples do belong on pizza) and as I was on my way out I felt a tug on my hair. Let me paint a picture for you, on this particular day my hair was in blue jumbo Senegalese twist, one of my favorite hairstyles. They were relatively long, so I wore it down that day. As I was walking out of Denaples I felt a tug on my hair from behind me. Immediately I whipped around to see who in the world would grab me like that. When I turned around a completely unfamiliar women (let’s call her Felicia) who was obviously much older than I was stood in front of me. I wish I could tell you what Felicia was saying but I immediately started to back away still in a state of shock at what just happened. As she was talking she then tried to grab my hair AGAIN, can you believe that. Of course seeing her come I yanked my head back as hard as I could. 

But since my hair was long of course she was able to grab it. Felicia then looked at me with eyes of a child who just saw their first peacock and proceeded to say,

“Oh my god, I though it was a wig that would come off when I pulled.” 

“How did you do that with your hair?”

“Is that your real hair?”

“How long did that take and how did you get that color?”

All of which I did not answer, I simply stated, “I have to get back to work…” and proceeded to speed walk away. As I walked I could hear Felicia calling for me but did I turn around? Absolutely not! 

Now some of you might think what’s the big deal? Its just hair, so what. Well yeah sure if it only happened maybe once, twice even three times it would be no big deal. But believe it or not this happens whenever I change my hair, and when put into a situation like this it feels as though I am an animal at a zoo that everyone can’t wait to get their hands on. It is an invasion of personal space and it is very belittling and disrespectful. I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic, let’s talk about some solutions. 

If you have the opportunity to have a conversation with a person you are familiar with, and the topic of hair arises then I believe if the person is willing to, they can answer all of the questions you have. It is always important when talking about something that is specific to a culture that you are able to have a respectful conversation and open-mind especially if this is unfamiliar territory. But black hair has such a wide range of styles, textures, and colors that your best bet is to go on the internet if you’re so inclined. Especially since not everyone wants to talk about their hair when the same questions are asked all of the time. Sometimes its okay to just go with the flow. You don’t have to know everything, so if Rebecca has blond hair one month and burgundy hair the next, sometimes it is just good enough to say, “I LOVE YOUR HAIR!”

But the number one rule:  DON’T TOUCH A BLACK WOMAN’S HAIR! You never know what she is rocking that day.