No, You Can’t Touch My Hair!

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Monique Scott, Blogger  ….More about Monique

 

By now we’ve all probably had a chance to view the Documentary by Chris Rock, Good Hair. There are mixed reviews on this film and I guess it depends on the viewer and the hair experiences they’ve had to endure.

 

To start, I’ll give Chris an A for effort. He introduced a topic that many are afraid to talk about for whatever reason be it good, bad, or indifferent. The film was entertaining, I mean it’s Chris Rock, so I had to laugh, however I was disappointed by it’s surface views. If Chris was going to “take it there” he should have “took it there!” More time was spent watching an Atlanta hair show competition than addressing the real issues. There was a scene when Chris was talking to a group of young girls. Only one of the girls had her hair natural and the topic of discussion was natural hair in the workplace. All of the girls agreed that this girl was going to have to change her hair if she wanted to find a good job. At that moment I was hoping he was finally going to get into a real discussion about a real issue for black people in the workplace, but instead the scene changed once again.

 

I’m disappointed because if Chris was going to share “secrets of black hair” he needed to explain all facets; the why, the why-not, the how, the everyday experiences from everyday black women, not just celebrities. Rather than explain to the white population why I don’t wash my hair everyday, it displayed black women and weaves. In my opinion, this has left the few white people that did see the movie thinking they now know all about black hair: Black women wear weaves.

 

Now, I live in a city with a white population of 92%, and an African American population of 2% so obviously I stick out like a sore thumb no matter what I do or how I present myself. I figured Good Hair would not be at any of our theatres, but low and behold about two months after it’s release it played for 2 weeks in a small privately owned theatre. Didn’t think white people would see it, but a handful did and now I get even more questions about my hair…Didn’t they watch the Oprah episode that said do not, I repeat, do not think you now have permission to go touch a Black women’s hair…Apparently they didn’t get the memo.

 

I’m new to the HR field and I work in an office with 8 other white people, 7 which are women. I’ve been natural for about 3 years but I’ve previously have the relaxer, the extensions,etc. When I wear my hair flat-ironed I get comments about how long and pretty my hair is. After spending that money, of course I keep it in this state for at least a week….No I don’t get up every morning, wash it and flatiron it again…but how can I or should I even have to explain that to my 8 white co-workers. It’s already hard enough being the only black person in the office, I will not have them thinking I’m dirty because I don’t wash my hair everyday. When I wash it the next week and have it in a “natural” pony tail, they ask me if I cut it because it’s impossible for it to be straight one day and curly another day….When I take the time to put individual twists in my hair, everyone wants to touch it and asks me what time I woke up in the morning to do it…”How long does that take” “You woke up that early” “I can’t believe you do all that every morning”…I smile and continue to my desk afraid of what I might say if I actually opened my mouth….One day I was talking to my sister about getting microbraids. That was a short-lived conversation because when I thought of all the questions I already get about my hair, I would never be able to explain why I have the same little braids, with fake hair, in my head a month later…Then there was the day I was bold and wore my hair in a sleek, and might I add very cute, afro ponytail. Never again…well at least not in this job, in this city, and in this state. As soon as I walked in the door they just stared. These are somewhat older people, so I think they had a flashback and thought Angela Davis walked into the building to make a political statement. Finally some 40-something year old lady walked over to me and touched the puff without asking, “It looks like a little bunny tail…lol.” No smile on my face. Then she proceeds to tell me that her niece is half Native American (I’ve heard that story 6 times) and has wavy hair. Apparently she thinks that because she has a half Native American and half White niece, she somehow can relate to this Black woman with an afro…Go figure.

 

I always think that maybe if I lived in Atlanta, or maybe New York my hair would be more acceptable. Maybe I wouldn’t think so hard about what to do with it every morning and if it’s going to be presentable in White America. Why do I have to spend so much time thinking about my hair just so I can feel at ease during my 8 hour work day? Does anyone else have these issues in the work place? Black President, Black First Lady and all, when will my Natural hair be accepted?

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