Recently we were out and a woman squealed and proceeded to start to touch my daughters hair. Why do people think they can do that? Is she your child? Do you know her? Do you know me?! A complete stranger has touched or tried to touch my daughter’s hair more times than I can count. Here’s some advice… DON’T!
Hair in the African American community has a greater cultural significance that it does in most other cultures (especially in America). Black woman, in particular have been kept from attending prom, threatened expulsion because of Afro Puffs, taken out of class because the teacher didn’t like the hair product she used, and had their natural hair been deemed unacceptable, among many other horrendous things.
African American people in America have had to change and chemically treat their hair for decades to fit into White culture and be more accepted by White society. They had to change who they are to be treated better and to survive. This is why the role can’t be reversed when challenging cultural appropriation. This has led to a lot of significance being put on hair. Now there is a Natural Hair Movement going on trying to bring back an appreciation and acceptance of WoC’s crowns. There was even a ‘Curlfest’ held in NYC recently.
Black women have also had to deal with other cultures appropriating their hair styles that they get negative consequences from but when somebody, of say… the White race, wears it they get praise. Now I will admit this particular subject has grey areas to it because personally I feel we can all wear whatever hairstyle we want… but when it is done in a manner where the White person is acting as though they created it… that therein lies the problem (imo). Again, it’s also a problem when Black women and girls get singled out and told their NATURAL hair isn’t “professional” or “acceptable.” In an idealistic world, nobody would get crap for what hairstyle they wear but unfortunately that is not the case.
Another issue that I’m learning that women of color face is other people’s fascination with it. Unfortunately a LOT of people in America have never really encountered a PoC. This leads a lot of people to reach out and touch PoC’s hair, especially WoC. Without asking! It’s a complete disrespect of space and boundaries. Now, I am a White woman, so I hope I don’t come across as trying to speak for PoC, rather trying to learn and stand up for children who are multiracial. This article in HuffPost shares from a Black woman’s perspective how she feels when people touch Black woman’s hair it comes from a White Supremacist’s society where black people are viewed as something to spectate or view as an exhibit… instead of the human beings they are. This sadly makes sense. Solange did a whole amazing song titled “Don’t touch my hair” that is incredibly beautiful about this topic.
What shocks me even more is the audacity of some people to not only not respect somebody’s boundaries and touch their hair… but to do it to a child!? Would you as a stranger go up to a White kids hair and touch it? You might get your ass beat if you touched the wrong person’s child.
I mean… I get it’s interesting. I love my daughter’s hair. It’s is soft and wonderful. It’s big and bouncy. But guess what?! That’s MY child. That’s HER hair. Not yours. DO NOT TOUCH IT! Resist the urge. Because I am trying to raise a strong child who is proud of who she is and her hair and I’m getting really sick of holding my tongue. I want to teach my daughter to stand up for herself and know she has body autonomy and nobody has the right to touch her! No matter how pretty you think it is. She isn’t a prop for you to enjoy. BACK UP!
Disclaimer- I am not a professional… this is just what I’ve learned through research and trial & error. We are always learning and I am not afraid to admit if I am wrong and made a mistake. It’s ok if you do too. We, as parents, aren’t perfect. That’s ok. As long as we try as hard as we can for our children.
Again, if there are any specific topics you are interested in learning about or reading please let me know either down in the comments below or by emailing me directly at: email@example.com with “Multiracial Media Column Question” as your Subject line.
Thanks for reading and good luck!