My hair isn’t a political playground: As a white person should you ask Black people about their hair?
Yesterday I was in my first class of the day minding my own business; being in the state I was in from the recent lost in my family, I definitely wasn’t in the mood to be questioned by the sudden change of my hair.
Reference photos most recent:
While I was doing my work my Professor (whom is a white) decided to come up towards me in front of everyone and ask ” Is that a wig?”
I instantly held my breath and felt my muscles clench. I wanted to ball my fist and call her a clueless white woman (as usual) but knowing I needed this class to pass it. I just laid it all out and told her I had gotten a weave to protect my own hair and give it a break. I didn’t go any further, she asked me
and I simply responded because I wanted too.
This isn’t the first time white people have come up to me asking to touch and pet and asking me how do i comb my hair when it’s nappy. How many times do i wash it? Saying it’s exotic and different not as nappy.
To make a blank statement obvious:
As a white person should you ask Black people about their hair?
No you shouldn’t, do you know why? Black people don’t ask you about your hair because your hair is normalized. Your hair is what Black people for years have been torturing ourselves over in order to be closer to whiteness. Through internalize racism Black people have been straightening and weaving their hair (not all but this is a big indication of why straight hair is preferred in our communties)
Our hair becomes! a political playground because having natural hair IS TURNED INTO a political statement. Majority of our identify has been tied into OUR hair not by us but by white society. The identity of what white society thinks Black identities should be and not by us! To us our hair is our hair and it comes in many different forms and ways that white hair cannot compete with.
So when my Professor asked me IN FRONT of every person in the classroom if my hair was a wig. There was no need.
She would have never asked a white woman if their hair was a wig, she would have never thought a white woman to wear their hair as a wig, or that Black people cannot have straight hair naturally.
This mentality, this act, it’s embarssing, and it’s disrespectful. After years and years and oppressive behaviour white people participate in surrounding our hair (calling it pubes and gross and unkempt and unprofessional) and created boundaries still in place today! to bluntly ask in front of a huge amount of people about Black hair. Is unnecessary.
I’ve receieved several your hair looks better from people in the Black community ( internalized racism) and from POC whom are non-Black. I’ve also received a smirk from my higher up manager because of the change in my hair. These little acts are indication that wearing my hair in it’s most natural state (white people wear their hair in natural state and no one EVER thinks about it being a political statement because once again your hair is normal and what every other POC so strive for it to be like)
I’ve been on interviews and around white people who have the nerve to say my hair is unprofessional. Because of the racialized system put into office jobs. Black hair is unruly and gross to the Professional world. When really this is an indication they want me to strip me of my Blackness and identify into whiteness. Because my Blackness is threatening to them. It SCARES them.
If you REALLY feel the need to ask and it’s a burning desire PLEASE go read, do research, THERE ARE LITERALLY TONS OF BOOKS ON BLACK HAIR BY BLACK PEOPLE. Youtubes, blogs, websites dedicated to Black hair! BY BLACK PEOPLE Don’t ask other POC that are Non-Black, Don’t ask us directly because that is disresectful and exoticfying us, go do your research. We’re not your educators. The oppressed do not educate oppressors.
I will say ONLY if only you know the person closely ask them in private.
It’s a touchy subject because again our hair has been politicalized. This has to do with the break down of Black people, anthropology, and exotification of us while denying us our rights as humans.
The answer is no