Why You Can’t Touch My Hair

By: Blessing Emole –

When you touch someone’s hair without asking — even if it’s attached to a compliment — it may be perceived as a subtle form of racism, inferiority, and abasement. People might not understand how problematic this is since, but I’m here to inform you it’s completely unacceptable. I decided to look deeper into this issue because I’ve personally had strangers randomly touch my hair, and I now know it needs to stop.

The most frustrating part about this issue is the lack of consent. Since Black women have more textured hair, we’re able to wear more styles, from braids to locs, and twists outs to a silk press. This constant change in texture might seem different or interesting to people who don’t normally experiment with different styles so often, but this isn’t an excuse to happily run your fingers through someone else’s strands.

If you still don’t understand why this is an issue, just ask yourself why you think it’s OK. When you see a dog walking on campus, you ask the owner to pet it before you bend over and start grabbing its ears. Now, Black women aren’t domesticated pets, but this example might show anyone who’s confused why it’s uncomfortable to invade someone’s personal space.

Black women aren’t property and neither is our hair. Reaching into our bubble to pet our heads is dehumanizing, and if you’re truly interested in someone’s hair style or texture, simply ask to touch it. And if you are greeted with a negative reaction when you mistakenly reach out and grab, don’t be surprised. It’s all about respect. You wouldn’t want someone touching you without consent or making comments about your appearance as if it’s completely foreign to humanity.

And lastly, if that isn’t a good enough reason for you, just don’t underestimate the time it takes to style our hair in the morning. The edges, sleek buns, and multiple attempts of just putting it up can lead to tears. Don’t ruin our work.