Imagine a stranger walking up to you and commenting on the curviness of your hips. Or a coworker reaching out to touch your full lips. Or the lady behind you in the check out line asking how you got your butt to sit up like that. Or your white friend saying how “neat” your broad nose is. Well as ridiculous as that sounds, that’s exactly how ridiculous it is when people do the same with hair.

Hair is a part of a person’s body. It literally grows and dies just like any other living thing. So anytime you touch it or ask invasive questions about it, you are violating them. I get that it looks cool and it’s neat and it’s different from what you’re used to seeing, but no. Just no.

I have had complete strangers run their fingers thru my hair. I have had coworkers hover over me and pick at my hair like chimps. I’ve had people walk up to me in the park asking me to break down the process of getting my hair to curl “like that.” And by “like that” they were referring to the way my hair curls after I wake up in the morning, take a shower and walk out my front door. You cannot burst someone’s personal bubble to fulfill your own ignorant curiosity.

The existence of said curiosity is very telling of how racist our society is. You are curious and intrigued by natural Black hair because 1) You don’t see Black people accurately represented in the media and 2) Black people are pressured to fit European standards of beauty because our natural hair is often deemed inappropriate and unprofessional. So when you ask me about my natural hair with so much intrigue and curiosity, you’re just reminding me of racism.

“But Sharde, can’t you use it as a teaching moment? Don’t you want to educate in order to end such ignorant/racist behavior?” I’ve thought about it. I have a saying myself that I can’t complain about ignorance if I’m not willing to educate, but nah. Read a book, watch YouTube, educate your damn self. It is not the responsibility of the oppressed class to end oppression. I have two words that will solve any inkling of curiosity flowing through your body that urges you to reach out and touch my hair or ask me a stupid question about it: The Internet. Get some.

Also, this ain’t no damn petting zoo. I am not here for your pleasure or entertainment. I am not here for you to learn about the wild and exotic species of African decent. I am not here for you to oooo and ahhh at. I am here to work. I am here to play at the park with my kids. I am here to buy groceries. Do you know my people were actually put in cages and displayed at zoos? No thank you. You can keep your post-racist racism to yourself.

I’m just tired of being told to be understanding. I DO understand. I also understand why my 5-year-old points at strangers and asks “Why is that man wearing a dress?” But she’s 5! I’m still teaching her manners and respect. You grown folks who walk around touching afros and asking about dreads need to be ashamed.

You know, it’s funny that the stereotype is that Black people are ignorant and rude. In my real life personal experiences, the ignorant and rude people I encounter are usually white. I’ve never had a Black person randomly touch me. And yes, my hair is me. Just like my breasts are. And you damn sure wouldn’t come up to me and touch my breasts or ask if they’re real so why the hell would you do that to my hair?

In conclusion. Don’t touch my hair. Thanks.

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