Black community asks white people to stop touching their hair

Josue Torres
Mugiwara Mani/Twitter

There have been countless instances in the media where Black people, especially Black women have told stories on how their personal space gets disrespected and people try to touch their hair without their consent.

Black History Month is a good reminder to take a good look over Black hair and everything that surrounds it.

We spoke with Dr. Andrea Isaacs, an African American doctor based in LA to get a close insight as to why this phenomenon should stop.

“Let’s start by stating that asking any Black person whether you may touch their hair is an intrusive and disrespectful conduct,” Isaacs says.

“Many may feel curious and think there’s nothing wrong with asking respectfully to touch someone’s hair, but as I mentioned, it’s just not right. You’re just invading the other person’s privacy," Isaacs explains.

A few months ago, a Black woman can be seen in a video with her natural hair while having a night out when a non-Black person gets close to her to try and touch her hair repeatedly.

According to the Black woman, the lady asked her for a third time if that was really her hair before leaning and trying to touch it without her consent.

Other Black women in the thread shared their experiences and how a lot of times they also get countless questions regarding the authenticity of their hair.

"The best thing would just be not to ask, and even more importantly, don’t go as far as touching someone’s hair without their consent," says Dr. Isaacs.

Dr. Isaacs keeps explaining:

"If you’re not a Black person, think about how many times people have requested to touch your hair. As a non-Black person, those instances probably don’t even exist."

"The thought of a stranger touching your hair is strange to most non-Black people. By requesting to touch a Black person’s hair when you don’t ask to touch the hair of your White counterparts, you are perpetuating unfair treatment and implying that Black hair is an anomaly."

"By requesting to touch a Black person’s hair, you are reinforcing the stereotype that White hair is the standard and that anything else than that is weird."

When you think that White hair is the norm, you’re exacerbating the difference between Black and white people and creating inequality,” Isaacs concluded.

Understanding the history and patterns of treatment of many Black people across the globe may also help explain why touching a Black person’s hair is such a disrespectful thing to do.

People of African heritage have been ogled and handled like zoo animals for generations, back in the 1800s they were even exhibited and put on display like mere attractions; all for the sake of entertainment and the public’s infatuation with their looks and bodies, which have been habitually classified as ‘other.’

Asking to touch a Black person’s hair is likely to evoke sentiments of otherness and make the person feel as if their body is being used for amusement by their White counterparts.

On the other hand, sanitary studies are also a big reason as to why not touch someone else’s hair.

According to studies, just 66 percent of Americans wash their hands after using the restroom, and a survey undertaken by the USDA indicated that the vast majority of individuals (97 percent) do not wash their hands effectively.

The unpleasant reality is that most individuals do not wash their hands properly, if at all, which contributes to the spread of germs and diseases.

Certainly, no one would like to get their hair touched by dirty fingers.

This Black History Month is a good opportunity to reflect on these topics that most of the time we just ignore or assume to be right; working towards equality and respect is a job that we all can participate in.

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