Another appropriate title would be, “Bitch, don’t touch my hair.”
For those of you who don’t know or can’t tell from looking, I’m mixed. I am half Black and half Mexican. My hair is also a mixture. It’s very curly, but it can have various modes of curly.
There’s the tightly wound, slightly distended and super shiny, “Hair is Still Wet”, which I wish it looked like all the time.
The slept on it while it was still wet “Matted Curl”, which makes my hair look six inches shorter.
The “I Actually Put Frizz-Ease In Curl” which is only a little frizzy. Mostly from putting the Frizz-Ease in…
The “Slept On It Dry Curl” which actually has some pretty good volume, and has this messy boudoir thing going on and makes me think if I was just twenty pounds lighter I could def be an Urban Outfitters model, but I’m supposed to be boycotting them, which isn’t so bad since they are needlessly expensive considering a lot of what they sell looks like you got it at a garage sale. Except the graphic Tees. F I love their Tees.
This kind of curl has one draw back. Some of the curl gets rubbed out during sleepy time and some hairs stick out at odd angles almost straight. A former Princeton roommate of mine ::cough::Brittney::cough:: has termed this as “My white is showing.”
But the best hair for me, in my honest opinion, is the “Just Washed Curl”, when it’s only slightly damp, and is keeping its structural definition since I didn’t attempt to put any product in it. That’s when I get the nice, tight ringlets that look like double helices or Roman knot designs. I give it a slight part to one side by literally flipping it back and forth (Willow Smith Style) and seeing how it settles and going with the side that looks best in the mirror.
One day I did this after waking up feeling really cramped and gross. I stayed in bed and home from work and sometime after 1pm I felt like I could hold some food down. Eventually I started to feel a lot better, but since I don’t have a car right now and my BF had already gone to work, I wasn’t going to work, but I didn’t want the day to be a bust. I wanted to accomplish something!
So I walked the mile and a quarter down to the shopping center to run some errands. I put on my short shorts, cause it was le hawt and grabbed my iPod. I still heard honks and cat calls over Silversun Pickups but my hair was particularly awesome, my gams were gettin’ toasty, and I look pretty good in those shorts. If I had straight hair I highly doubt I would get noticed as much in my new neighborhood of San Juan Capistrano. There are NO black people here. It’s very very strange for me. There are plenty of Mexicans, so I don’t feel completely swallowed by white SoCal, but I definitely feel like a lonely sister when I’m out walking by myself. So if you’re driving in your half white, half Mexican neighborhood and you see a dark puffy cloud making its way down the street you wouldn’t be too out of turn to slow down a little to see what it was, only to find out it is in fact the hair on a brown girl’s head. Then maybe start to think, “What is she?”, which was one of my favorite party games. Someone said Peruvian once. Are there curly headed Peruvians? Also, Brazilian, which made me feel sexy.
My first stop was the hardware store. Moving in with the boyfriend meant getting a key to the boyfriend’s place, so I went to have keys made. I also thought I’d pick up a new shower curtain (to class up the place) and a pepper grinder (which was too expensive there, as in $30, but I got one on Amazon later for $12, so suck it!).
Since it was the middle of the day there weren’t a lot of people in the store so the sales clerk lady was basically following me around waiting for me to ask if I needed help finding something, which I did since there were no signs, really, that stated what was where. But I was wrong. She was following me because of my hair. And at this point I’ve decided that I’m too patient with people.
What SHOULD Have Happened:
I was looking around and I saw the lady and I asked her where the shower curtains were and she pointed me to one side of the store and before I knew it her hand was coming very close to my face, very quickly, a look of wonder in her face, but right before her fingers could make their way into my locks I jumped back, took a deep breath and yelled, “And exactly what the fuck do you think you’re doing?! I want to talk to your manager. Your ass needs to be fired thinking you can just put your hands on somebody…” I walked off to find another clerk to complain.
“Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean anything, I was just curious-”
“Curious? Curious?! My hair is not here for your curiosity. You get to suspend respect for personal curiosity? Bullshit. Now where the FUCK is your manager. Ya’ll need some cultural sensitivity classes, shyt…”
Eventually I would find whoever was acting manager that day, take the extra thirty minutes to write up a complaint, all the while the nice old white lady is standing with her co-workers explaining what happened and they comfort her, knowing she didn’t mean any harm, but one of them actually has a black female friend and she learned that wasn’t OK from the get go and wants to take a moment and play the “I Know More About Black People Than You Do Game”, but she’s going to wait until the accused isn’t in present company.
Then I buy my shower curtain, get my fucking keys made and get the fuck out of that cracka-ass store.
What Really Happened:
I was looking around and I saw the lady and I asked her where the shower curtains were and she pointed me to one side of the store and before I knew it her hand was coming very close to my face, very quickly, a look of wonder in her face, and then her fingers were in my hair.
THEN she says, “Can I touch it? Oh, it’s so beautiful. How do you get it to do that? It’s amazing!”
“Um, thanks. I don’t ‘do’ anything to it (nervous laughter). It really just grows out of my head that way. Heh.” I can feel a strangers’ fingers in my hair. My hair is being fingered! Ahh!
“So you don’t do anything? Oh my goodness it’s so soft.” She pulled one curl and let it go, delighting almost child like in it’s elasticity. “You wouldn’t think it was that soft just looking at it.”
“Well, I’m mixed. So. Nope. Just shampoo and conditioner like everybody else. Um, could you show me where the shower curtains are again? Please?”
“Oh, yes,” she started walking towards the back wall, “We don’t have a lot..” And…..Scene. Maybe later she tells her friends she got to touch a black girl’s hair today at work and they talk about hair for the next hour. One of them is secretly jealous? They decide who’s house they’ll meet at next week, one of them won’ be coming because her daughter is visiting with the grand kids ’cause school is out…Okay, maybe that’s too much speculation.
Luckily I had a chance to redeem myself. I’m not proud of it but it needed to be said.
I recently acquired three new co-workers. All dudes. There’s a quiet, super organized, nice guy dude. A mohawk, tattooed, fixie riding hipster dude. And a funny, talkative, extroverted but gets the job done dude. Granted I’ve only just met them, so these are my first impressions.
The funny talkative guy joined me and some other co-workers for an afternoon chat to keep ourselves from getting too bored and I can’t remember the topic of conversation, but while I was speaking, he, with his coffee cup still to his mouth and a hand out stretched, start to slowly lean in, reaching for my hair. I jumped back and said, “NO.”
“No?” He asked?
“Yes, ‘No’. Maybe if you had asked first, but since you thought you could just get a hand full for free then ‘No’.”
My co-worker Leslie, a white woman with black female friends, looked at him and said, “Yeah, you can’t do that.”
“How many black female friends do you have?” I asked.
“Yeah. Thought so.” I then began a short verbal history on the commodification of black people, i.e. slavery, and explained that I was cutting his white privilege off at the root. That he shouldn’t be touching anybody’s hair without their permission, least of all a Black woman’s. And while I forgive him and understand that this may be something he just didn’t know, now he knows and it’s not OK. Then I told him he should watch Chris Rock’s mockumentary Good Hair.
Later, I felt like I was maybe a little rough on him. I did my best to be playful in my tirade, to let him know I wasn’t going to call the NAACP or something. But I thought it was really important that this white guy have some, what I consider, necessary education. I mean, there are men who have sexual relations with some Black women and STILL can’t touch their hair.
I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to accept my hair, for the most part, and go natural. At times I really take to heart all the compliments my hair has garnered in super markets, restaurants, bus stops, and train stations. From little girls to older men, people seem to have positive reactions to my hair and that’s great for the curly haired everywhere! I always encourage women of color to go natural because the more we see natural hair the more normal it becomes. And for those who are offended for any reason, they haven’t spoken up so their opinion is being ignored in this post.
But none of that positive feedback gives people the right to touch me without my permission. I know some people might say I should never let anyone, no matter how nice and polite they are about it, touch my hair. But I feel like I’m spreading the good word and am doing some good and fostering some much needed positivity between the pales and the browns. But for those who assume they can just dive in, they better think twice. From now on, I’m going to chastise the SHYT out of you and publicly embarrass you to whosoever is present. Fair warning. No more freebies!