I don’t know who told white people that it was okay to stick their hands into other people’s hair, but it needs to stop.
I am willing to bet a large sum of money that if you ask any black woman on the street she will tell you that someone has either asked to touch her hair, or took it upon themselves to do it. I am also willing to bet that out of all the women you ask 99% of them hated the experience.
Recently there has been a black pride movement that has pushed many black women to become comfortable with “wearing their hair out” and to give up the weaves and relaxers for their own beautiful curls. Black women are leaving behind the belief that they are only attractive if they possess European features and becoming comfortable with the fact that their black is beautiful. Afros have been prevalent and so have white hands.
It’s understandable that most people are just curious about black hair, it’s not mainstream therefore many people don’t know the variety that black women have when it comes to hair texture, style, etc. But there’s a right and wrong way to show this curiosity. Sticking your hand in someone’s hair without permission is just straight up rude, no matter how good your intentions are, no matter how curious you are.
It all comes down to consent. The fact that you feel that you don’t need to ask or you have some sort of right to put your hands on our heads, makes it pretty clear to us, black women, that you hold no respect for us. Because if you had respect for us, you would ask for consent. It’s like any other situation, when you want something that isn’t yours, you ask… I feel like this is the first thing most kids learn growing up. So why is it that when you get to my head, that rule gets thrown out of the window?
Not only is touching someones hair without permission extremely rude, it’s also degrading. There is a long history between white people and black bodies, a long history of white people objectifying and degrading black bodies.
The objectification of black women is nothing new, it has been going on for centuries. Although today it is subtle and not as obvious, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. An example of this objectification is Saartjie Baartman. Baartman was an African woman who was brought to London in 1810 and forced to stand as a public display for the people to see. Because her butt was bigger than average, Europeans saw Baartman as some sort of “freak” and used her as a circus act to satisfy their twisted curiosity. Even well after her death, Baartman’s body was still exploited, as her remains were put on display in France.
Although Baartman’s story is far worse than someone sticking their hand in your hair it’s an example that goes to show that there is a history of superiority that white people have felt when it comes to black people.
Why is my hair unique, fascinating, ” so cool” just because it doesn’t look like yours? Why do white people think that they are the standard of beauty and anything that doesn’t look like them is out of the ordinary? This is my hair, it grows out of my head just like yours does!
So next time you see a beautiful black girl with her bountiful curls out on display and your hands start itching for a touch think about how you would feel if someone did the same thing to you. Think about how you would feel if you were treated like a zoo animal.