A: Can you touch my hair? Did you really just ask me if you could touch my hair? My African diasporic hair that you have devalued through your ads for straight long blond hair? The hair that you have invented countless products to, “curl-I-cure”, to chemically straighten with lye, to singe with the hotcomb. You mean you want to touch the hair that you call nappy, coarse, black, “natural”? OH, so you want to touch my hair because of all the styles that it can hold, or all of the volume that it has, or the shape of the Afro it takes when not disturbed. You want to touch the hair that has come from a race of people so deeply connected to mother earth that our hair resembles that of the roots of trees. Ok, I understand, you want to touch my beautiful Afrocentric hair because now that you have gotten over your shock of the “Black is beautiful movement,” and the huge Afro’s of the Black Panthers and everything political my hair embodies, I am “acceptable,” my differentness makes me exotic, and my hair adds to my otherness which you buy up, sterilize, and place into your ziploc bag of “diversity” and take to work and show your friends. I know why you want to touch my hair; it is to see what it feels like, if it smells like shampoo, if the grease in it will stain your hands. You want to touch my hair to cement in your mind that I am always the other, but that it is okay, because “we’re past all the racial stuff, right…” Wrong! Here in America my hair has never been valorized, and as you watch that Herbal Essence ad and see hair like yours, long and blonde and shiny and thick, YOUR standard of beauty is certified, validated, and confirmed, while mine is thrown to the wayside. So for the last time, let me tell you, NO you cannot touch my hair. It is not some animal on display in a zoo for public critique. My hair is my hair, is MY hair. So no, miss, you cannot touch my hair.
Oh, and by the way, they’re twists, not dreads.
Alex & all my other sisters