My Hair, My Crown, Please Mind Your Business
I was at work working and this elder white lady comes up to me and compliments me about my hair. At the time I had long black and blonde box braids. I politely replied thank you with a smile and just when I thought I was going to be able to return to what I was doing she continued a dialogue. She started speaking about “how woman do some many things to keep themselves right and presentable.” In my head I wanted her to stop talking because I knew exactly where this conversation was going. It always goes in this direction whenever someone of the elder generation delivers an unsolicited opinion about my hair because I where all different types of styles. I was raised by a cosmetologist so I grew up watching my mother transform hair into any and every style you could think of. Because of my mother I have always viewed hair as artwork, a component of expressive beauty. So in my opinion, hair is hair, therefore I wear it the way I want and who cares. The problem I had with this specific dialogue was that at some point in her rambling the woman carefully stated these words to me, “You know I do not mean to sounds a certain way when I say this [me thinking: yes you do] but I have noticed that a lot of Black Women wear wigs. Why do you think Black Women do that?” Now I am fully aware that not everyone thinks like me and that is fine, I get it but c’mon!!
In my head I immediately thought of five different white celebrities that knowingly where wigs and/or hair extensions and if given the time I could come up with more. But because I was raised to not be disrespectful to others and because I was in uniform at the time I suppressed my initial response and then politely replied with these words, “Well I think it depends on the woman that you are referring to. I myself I do not wear wigs but I know of some women that wear them just to have a different style without having to manipulate their own hair.”
I chose to speak on this scenario because 1) I needed to vent but also 2) because this seems to be a reoccurring theme and I genuinely do not understand why. I feel like this is the reason why “Hollywood” feels the need to produce movies like Nappily Ever After and expect the black community to just love and praise the work like it is the greatest movie ever... nahh try again! And we will wait for it to be done right because we got plenty of time for you to depict our culture accurately. More importantly, I want people to be aware that not everything in this world has to be understood, especially if it does not relate to you. Just be tolerant, respectful and simply just MIND YO DAMN BUSINESS. It is not my job as one black woman to educate you about a whole race of people. But for those of you who do lack the self-awareness let me just say that when thinking of ways to strike up a conversation with a person of color, think of something else to ask/talk about besides their physical appearance. Because simply stating “I do not mean to offend you” does not make it less offensive if you do offend someone, especially if the person is not familiar with you.
Your actions have impacts. While your intent may not be to harm, the impact may still be effective. Compliments are great because they make people feel good about themselves if delivered conducively. However, when your remark is more nosy or provoking then it gives the impression that you are fascinated or even possibly bothered by the dynamics of my beauty because it is different from your beauty. And while we are on the subject, I am just going to say this because it is one of my biggest pet peeves: DO NOT TOUCH MY HAIR WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!!! It is moronic to me that this even has to be said. This action displays that you have no sense of boundaries. My hair is a part of my person therefore consent is required to touch it. Please do not tell me I am overreacting because this is something that has continuously happened to me throughout my entire life. Also, it is rude to ask someone if his or her hair is real or fake. If it is attached to my head it is mine today!!
And it is not just white people. Because I once had an elderly black man compliment my hair and then ask me if my hair was real. At the time I had goddess braids that came together into a bun on top of my head. And when I gave the honest answer that my hair is braided with extra hair to give a certain fullness to the braid, he then asked me why I did not like my natural hair enough to wear it without the extra hair. Sir, you do not even have enough hair for me to ask you about so please go about your day. As a Black Woman who constantly changes the style of her hair I will confidently inform you that I DO NOT CHANGE MY HAIR BECAUSE I AM BLACK AND I DO NOT CHANGE MY HAIR BECAUSE I HATE MY REAL NATURAL HAIR. I LOVE my hair, IT IS MY CROWN.