Don’t Touch My Hair

Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1999

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I said to the Bangladeshi child who had grabbed a clump of my luscious afro and yanked back jarring me out of my daydream and back into the realities of being a black face in a brown space.

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I repeated turning around, swatting the little boy’s hand away as he ran away with a sheepish grin, his knuckles protruding from his skin as he fiercely clutched
his:
treasure- my curls
his:
foreign object – my curls
his:
conquest – my curls

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I repeated to myself. The boy was long gone, but the feeling of otherness, the feeling of not belonging, the feeling of exoticism, those feelings lingered.

Kampala, Uganda, 2006

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

Never had I ever expected to be using those four words in Uganda of all places.

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I repeated ignoring claims and hollow justifications as to the unique texture/bounciness/volume of my hair. Why do you act before asking for permission? Why do you act like I don’t have the right to determine how, when, where and why my body should be touched? Why are all of your hollow excuses and empty justifications focused on my differences? Why am I still different and exotic even though I am a black face in a black space?

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I exasperatedly sigh as they switch tactics and try to
act like:
being touched without consent is a compliment
act like:
I should be grateful and flattered for them touching me without my consent
act like:
I don’t know or appreciate the true beauty of my own hair but they do and can teach me just how special I am

Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A, 2010

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

I say without looking back as I feel the hand press into my freshly combed afro and continue to sink in despite my protests. The splayed hand plunges all the way until it rests on my scalp and yanks back as I turn around.

“I…I….I’ve never really had a black friend before and so I never touched a black persons hair before and I just wanted to know how it felt. It feels soooo cool, it’s like a sponge!”
White Female exclaims as I give her hella side eye

“Don’t Touch My Hair”

White Female is 20 years old and I’m her first black experience.

An allegory in solidarity with queer people of colour survivors of sexual assault.

 

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