Monday, March 16, 2009
"Can I touch it?"
Without looking up, without peering around the side of my desk, and without having seen Crystal yet yesterday morning, I knew Crystal put braids in her hair.
"How" you ask?
Because the White girl who sits in between us said, "ooooh, can I touch it?"
I know this scenario all too well. It's happened to me several times. I braid my hair, some White person wants to touch it. A lot of times they just do it. I feel like I'm at the damn petting zoo or something. It's not until I slowly jerk my head away from them and give them a "you're about to draw back a nub" look that they get the hint. Let me give you an example, check it:
Barbara likes Hair
What the hell man?! Really?
A Black woman has NEVER asked if she could touch my hair when I got it braided, or any other time for that matter. Not once. The only time a black woman has ever touched my hair was when I told her to...as in "I just got the best conditioning treatment...here, feel how soft my hair is." Other than that...never.
With all the Black women I know who have braids, locs, afros, curly naturals, weaves or relaxers, I have never had the urge to touch their hair either. Not one time.
Some White people though - women in particular - have this fascination with our hair, no matter what texture it is. I guess it's just because our hair is different from theirs. It's a mystery to them, and we are fascinated with the mysterious. Although White people's hair is different from my own, I never felt the need to run my fingers through some blond tresses. Not once. The only time I'm enticed to touch a person's hair is if I'm overcome with passion getting busy with a guy who has locs. Stop me if I'm revealing too much :-)
Ahem...anyway. I don't mind if a person is simply curious as to why our hair does what it does. I'd rather answer questions about our hair so that they don't walk around with any ill conceived notions of our crowning glory. I've gotten the question, "Well, how does it stay up like that?" Or "How long does it take to do it?" Or my favorite - "Do you wash it?"
What the hell kind of question is that?
Anyway...what I found disturbing was that she did it at work. Asking such questions at work could get you fired. We had a STRICT "diversity" training class that addressed such things. The girl who asked if she could touch Crystal's hair has no filter for such sensitivities - just ignorant for no reason. This is the same girl who told me White people don't talk in the movie theater. Enough said.
So, do you think I'm being too sensitive? I may be overreacting, but it just irked the hell out of me when I heard her ask the question. The fact that I didn't even have to look at Crystal to know she had her hair braided said it all to me - they just don't get it. I could be being my usual over-sensitive self...so you tell me.
Hey, at least she asked her first. Usually they just walk up to me and grab my hair. Can't they just say, "I like your new style" and keep it moving? Ask me how long it takes to braid my hair. Ask me how long it can stay like that. Hell, ask me how much my hair costs. Ask me anything else. Just don't ask me if you can touch it. ESPECIALLY at work.
Maybe I am over-reacting. Maybe not. Who knows. Ah well...whatever.