My hair is wild, furiously spiraled, gravity-defying, spring loaded hair. It’s big, confident, room-commanding specfuckingtacular hair. It’s difficult, contradictory, rebellious. Once I got to know my hair in its nappy state, I didn’t have any problems with it. It sits there and grows, and I try not to fuck it up. The one thing about it I find really annoying is detangling.
BUT, more annoying than detangling is how some people react to my hair.
I’m going to give you some advice right now: the best way to get on my good side is NOT to touch my hair without asking. Actually, don’t ask. Just don’t do it. It’s not a plant. It’s not fabric. It definitely doesn’t have a little hole in its packaging inviting you to feel the flocking. The main reason this particular reaction annoys me is because of the way people touch it when they do. Yes, I’ve let white people touch my hair. I’ll admit it. In the beginning when this was all new to me I didn’t much care because at least people wanted to feel what was on my head, previously it was usually fried dyed and laid to the side and you didn’t have to touch it to realize it could sub for hay. But after a couple impromptu petting zoo encounters I noticed the look on their face and what they were doing with their hand and basically, I realized this wasn’t like “your hair is so beautiful”. It was like, “your hair is alien to me, let me treat it like a curiosity”, which I just can’t abide. It’s kind of like “educating”, only with visual aids. So I decided to close the nappytown chamber of commerce and just stick to uh, not being a prop.
People asking me “how did you get your hair like that” are met with a blunt “it grows out of my head like this”. I mean, I don’t know anyone but black people who are dying to have OUR hair. So it’s not like they want tips on how to achieve this look. They think it’s novelty hair. If I pull on it to show how long it is, 9 times out of 10 a squeal escapes from their lips when I let go and it springs back. Again, it’s a curiosity, and I don’t pull out that little magic trick anymore either.
There’s also a bunch of foolish people who think it’s a) funny, b) clever, or most puzzling, c) appropriate to do some crap like give me the “black power” fist or call me Angela or say “rock on soul sistah”, etc. You’d be surprised, but I’ve found there’s virtually no limit to the variations on that theme. It doesn’t have to make sense or even be accurate. This theme ties in with some white people’s love for afro wigs. Because “black power” is funny to them. That whole movement is just part of their kitschy pop culture memories and is not taken seriously. Black people in general are a novelty to this type. So when I’m talking to one of these people and I get heated, they think it’s OK to cop a blaccent and call me “girlfriend”. It’s just tiring and racist. Seriously. RACIST.
The only group of people I will suffer gladly are other black women, especially black women with relaxed hair. I will stand there and detail the products I use and where you can buy them, give tips on styling, write down links to message boards that talk about natural hair, and give words of encouragement and assurance that their natural hair is beautiful, too. Most white people don’t realize how hard it is for a black woman to wear her hair naturally. Not only because of the jokers mentioned above, but because of intense societal conditioning that our hair is something that needs fixing. It comes at you from the black community, and it comes at you from everyone else too. So if a black woman is even contemplating letting her new growth last a bit longer than 4 weeks, I’m her cheerleader. Because if we don’t tell each other our hair is beautiful you can bet no one else will.