Editorial: “No, you can’t touch my hair”


Tanner Bowman, Ashely Dozier, and Skye McCoy

Puffy, curly, kinky, coily, braided, and loc’d. The many types of natural hair have made a major impression in America. Due to societal expectations, the standard for black hair has often changed. Ethnic hair is constantly being brought to question on what styles are deemed professional, tidy, and acceptable in different spaces. Because of the constant criticism, in the 70s and 80s perms were popularized. Perms are a chemical process that alters the appearance, texture, and the overall feel of ethnic hair. Though this process has been linked to cancer and other health issues, they were still a trend amongst black people because they were able to achieve a more European hair texture.

Now, more than ever, people are embracing thier natural strands. However, we are still sometimes riddled with microaggressions that can make a person uncomfortable. Laquanda Boney, South’s media center specialist, shares her experience in which someone made the beauty of her natural hair feel uncomfortable. Boney says “Once a year I wear my hair pressed and straightened to work, and everyone comments that my hair looks nice in that way. But it makes me think well what does my hair look like when it’s in its natural state? These are “compliments” that come from both white and black teachers”, Boney continued saying, “it makes me wonder why people still think straight hair is a symbol of beauty. Why do I have to wait to get my hair straightened to get a compliment?” The conversations around accepting ethnic hair in professional spaces has been a decades long and ongoing discussion.

Destiny Hill (9) shows SGHS her natural crown.

To further discuss microaggressions as it relates to ethnic hair, VOS explored hair petting or touching someone’s hair without their permission. Is reaching out to feel a person’s hair texture a simple mistake or a sign of disrespect? According to Brandon Sims, a sophomore at South, he says ¨I personally hate when people touch my hair because it doesn’t feel like they are respecting my boundaries as a person.” While black hair tends to bring on a lot of attention, people who touch hair may simply be oblivious that it can make a person feel like an animal in a petting zoo. So why do some people deem it necessary to run their unwelcome hands through your hair? Kenyatta Dean, a teacher at South, says “I think black people can do so many different things with our hair and it interests people. It makes people curious, but I don’t understand why they feel they have to touch it”.

In short, it’s best to be mindful of all the different types of hair and understand how to culturally aware. Hair petting and comments, even when you think it’s a compliment can make a person feel uncomfortable. To know better is to do better.