REPOST: How My 6-Year Old Protested her Natural Hair & the Aftermath of the Tiana Parker Incident

Just when I thought I could get a breather from discussing black hair . . .

7 year old, Tiana Parker was sent home for wearing locs

7 year old, Tiana Parker was sent home for wearing locs

On September 9, my 6 year old had a melt down about her hair. The night before, I had taken her braids out and didn’t have time to wash and style it as I thought I would, so I brushed it and put her to bed. When we awakened the next morning, we got ready for work and school as usual. I wet her hair, put some styling cream in, and slicked it back into an Afro puff. “How cute!” I thought.

She looked at herself in the mirror and was not pleased. She screamed and hollered about her hair. She hated her hair! She told me that had she known I was putting her hair in an Afro puff, she would have protested sooner.

It was a rough morning! When hubby took her to school, she was still crying and tugging on her hair. She was a hot mess when she arrived at school: both she and her hair had a complete come-apart! Daddy tried to soothe her by telling her that she was beautiful, but she was not having it.

It bothered me all day at work. How could I (Ms. Say-it-loud-I’m-black-and-I’m proud!!) be raising a daughter who was ashamed of her looks? I thought I failed at making my child feel comfortable with who she is.

It is now time for me to invoke race into this conversation: Yes, I am certain that it is difficult for parents of all races to teach their children to recognize beauty beyond size 0 blonde models, but it is important to recognize that even that image is racialized so that black female bodies (including hair) then become the antithesis of that standard of beauty. This is why it is important for us to constantly offer black/brown children alternative images of beauty and to even deconstruct the power that beauty should be given in the first place in treating each other with dignity.

But, I digress . . .

When I got home that evening, I told Nina to come have a chat with me. We stretched out on the sofa, with her leaning on me. I stroked her hair, comforting her so that we could be relaxed when we talked. I pulled out my tablet and showed her a picture of a little girl.

“Nina,” I said. “Look at this little girl. Do you notice that she doesn’t have any hair?”

“Yes,” Nina said.

“What do you think about her? Do you find her beautiful? Look at her smile?”

“She has a pretty smile. I bet she is really nice.”

“I bet she is, too. Nina, this little girl has been really sick for a while. She had an awful illness called cancer. In order for her to get better, she had to take some medicine to make her feel better. Thank God she is feeling better. Unfortunately, that medicine made all of her hair fall out. That beautiful smile you notice on her face is there because she is thankful that she is feeling better and because now she can go home and be with her family. Pretty soon, she’ll be able to play with her friends. That’s beauty–the fact that she can have a smile on her face, despite what she has gone through, because she knows that God will take care of her. You have so much to be thankful for, and that hair on your head is only a small portion of it. Your meltdown this morning was a bit outrageous. What was going on?”

It was what she said next that broke my heart and it proves that we should never underestimate how much our children understand and even internalize what they hear.

“I was afraid that if I wore my hair in an Afro puff,” Nina began, “they would send me home.” She then told me that she overheard me talking about Tiana Parker, the 7 year old girl at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was sent home for wearing her hair in locs. Their school policy stated that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Nina asked me why wouldn’t they let her go to school.

I looked at her and I said, “Sometimes, adults say and do mean things. That school was wrong for making her feel like something was wrong with her for wearing her hair in locs. Her hair is beautiful and Tiana is beautiful and smart, too.”

I then told Nina that she is more than her hair and more than her beauty. I told her that she is a funny, smart, loving, caring, and kind little girl who is loved by many who are happy to remind her that she is just fine the way she is. We also looked at the collection of pictures put together by Dr. Yaba Blay to help Tiana Parker feel confident about how she looks. This digital picture book also includes inspirational words to comfort her.

I am glad that this occurred so that we can begin the conversation of the importance of Nina valuing herself, because it is never too soon to do so. School-aged children learn a lot about themselves once they start school. When Nina was in preschool, her teacher would always make comments about the various hairstyles that she wore. It was unwanted attention, as my Nina, the only black child in the class, did not seek to be the center of attention.

As for Nina, she is back to loving her Afro puff.

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Beautiful Black Girls*

(Because it needs to be said)

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of satit_srihin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I want to say

Just got so say something

About those beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rocking Afro puffs, dreadlocks, and braids

I see you

Making it do what it do

You so fierce

Everyone wants to be like you

What? Don’t tell me you didn’t know!

Tiana, Lamya, Nyla, Lauren, and Nikia

Go ‘head girls!

I see you

Cutting your eyes

Looking so cute

With your beads that match the skinny jeans and the shoelaces and your backpack

For all my smart, sassy, introverted, extroverted

Singing, writing, dancing, swimming, skating

Ball-playing, bike-riding, double-dutch jumping, chess-playing, music-loving

Princesses and tomboys

Keep doing your thang!

Brava, young ladies!

You should know

I’m sitting at home, in the audience, on the sidelines

Cheering you on

With tears in my eyes

For all of you beautiful, beautiful black girls

Rockin’ dope Afro puffs, dreadlocks and braids

©2 Dope Sistahs, 2013

*Inspired by my favorite poet, Nikki Giovanni and her poem “Beautiful Black Men”

Spoken in Jest: Sheryl Underwood & Afro Hair

2 Dope Sistahs

“Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.”–William Shakespeare, King Lear

Last week’s comments by African American comedian Sheryl Underwood on the CBS daytime show “The Talk” set Black Twitter on fire. In a format similar to the long-running talk show “The View” on ABC, the co-hosts of the show (Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler, and Sheryl Underwood) include a daily discussion of “hot topics.” Sharon Osbourne introduced the topic of saving unusual things, stating that model and “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum saves her children’s hair when she cuts down their “big Afros.”

Being opinionated is probably a prerequisite for the job, and Sheryl Underwood certainly fits the bill. She asked incredulously, “Why would you save Afro hair? I mean, you can’t weave in Afro hair!” In a moment that was reminiscent of Chris Rock’s comedy-documentary “Good Hair,” she riffed that no one goes to the salon asking for “the curly, nappy, beady” weave. Almost…

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How My 6-Year Old Protested her Natural Hair & the Role Tiana Parker Plays

Just when I thought I could get a breather from discussing black hair . . .

7 year old, Tiana Parker was sent home for wearing locs

7 year old, Tiana Parker was sent home for wearing locs

One week ago today on September 9, my 6 year old had a melt down about her hair. The night before, I had taken her braids out and didn’t have time to wash and style it as I thought I would, so I brushed it and put her to bed. When we awakened the next morning, we got ready for work and school as usual. I wet her hair, put some styling cream in, and slicked it back into an Afro puff. “How cute!” I thought.

She looked at herself in the mirror and was not pleased. She screamed and hollered about her hair. She hated her hair! She told me that had she known I was putting her hair in an Afro puff, she would have protested sooner.

It was a rough morning! When hubby took her to school, she was still crying and tugging on her hair. She was a hot mess when she arrived at school: both she and her hair had a complete come-apart! Daddy tried to soothe her by telling her that she was beautiful.

It bothered me all day at work. How could I (Ms. Say-it-loud-I’m-black-and-I’m proud!!) be raising a daughter who was ashamed of her looks? I thought I failed in making my child feel comfortable with who she is.

It is now time for me to invoke race into this conversation: Yes, I am certain that it is difficult for parents of all races to teach their children to recognize beauty beyond size 0 blonde models, but it is important to recognize that even that image is racialized so that black female bodies (including hair) then become the antithesis of that standard of beauty. This is why it is important for us to constantly offer black/brown children alternative images of beauty and to even deconstruct the power that beauty should be given in the first place in treating each other with dignity.

But, I digress . . .

When I got home that evening, I told Nina to come have a chat with me. We stretched out on the sofa, with her leaning on me. I stroked her hair, comforting her so that we could be relaxed when we talked. I pulled out my tablet and showed her a picture of a little girl.

“Nina,” I said. “Look at this little girl. Do you notice that she doesn’t have any hair?”

“Yes,” Nina said.

“What do you think about her? Do you find her beautiful? Look at her smile?”

“She has a pretty smile. I bet she is really nice.”

“I bet she is, too. Nina, this little girl has been really sick for a while. She had an awful illness called cancer. In order for her to get better, she had to take some medicine to make her feel better. Thank God she is feeling better. Unfortunately, that medicine made all of her hair fall out. That beautiful smile you notice on her face is there because she is thankful that she is feeling better and because now she can go home and be with her family. Pretty soon, she’ll be able to play with her friends. That’s beauty–the fact that she can have a smile on her face, despite what she has gone through, because she knows that God will take care of her. You have so much to be thankful for, and that hair on your head is only a small portion of it. Your meltdown this morning was a bit outrageous. What was going on?”

It was what she said next that broke my heart and it proves that we should never underestimate how much our children understand and even internalize what they hear.

“I was afraid that if I wore my hair in an Afro puff,” Nina began, “they would send me home.” She then told me that she overheard me talking about Tiana Parker, the 7 year old girl at Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was sent home for wearing her hair in locs. Their school policy stated that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Nina asked me why wouldn’t they let her go to school.

I looked at her and I said, “Sometimes, adults say and do mean things. That school was wrong for making her feel like something was wrong with her for wearing her hair in locs. Her hair is beautiful and Tiana is beautiful and smart, too.”

I then told Nina that she is more than her hair and more than her beauty. I told her that she is a funny, smart, loving, caring, and kind little girl who is loved by many who are happy to remind her that she is just fine the way she is. We also looked at the collection of pictures put together by Dr. Yaba Blay to help Tiana Parker feel confident about how she looks. This digital picture book also includes inspirational words to comfort her.

I am glad that this occurred so that we can begin the conversation of the importance of Nina valuing herself, because it is never too soon to do so. School-aged children learn a lot about themselves once they start school. When Nina was in preschool, her teacher would always make comments about the various hairstyles that she wore. It was unwanted attention, as my Nina, the only black child in the class, did not seek to be the center of attention.

As for Nina, she is back to loving her Afro puff.

Spoken in Jest: Sheryl Underwood & Afro Hair

“Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.”–William Shakespeare, King Lear

Collection of picks from the 20th Century. Denver Art Museum.

Collection of picks from the 20th Century. Denver Art Museum.

Last week’s comments by African American comedian Sheryl Underwood on the CBS daytime show “The Talk” set Black Twitter on fire. In a format similar to the long-running talk show “The View” on ABC, the co-hosts of the show (Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler, and Sheryl Underwood) include a daily discussion of “hot topics.” Sharon Osbourne introduced the topic of saving unusual things, stating that model and “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum saves her children’s hair when she cuts down their “big Afros.”

Being opinionated is probably a prerequisite for the job, and Sheryl Underwood certainly fits the bill. She asked incredulously, “Why would you save Afro hair? I mean, you can’t weave in Afro hair!” In a moment that was reminiscent of Chris Rock’s comedy-documentary “Good Hair,” she riffed that no one goes to the salon asking for “the curly, nappy, beady” weave. Almost inaudibly, she concluded, “That just seems nasty.”

Co-hosts Sara Gilbert and Sharon Osbourne both agreed that they saved similar mementos from their children. Gilbert mentioned that she had saved the hair from her son’s first haircut. But Underwood interrupted, stating that it was “probably some beautiful, long, silky stuff. That’s not what an afro is.” This, ironically, seemed to make Osbourne and Gilbert defenders of blackness while Underwood attacked it.

Sheryl Underwood’s statements may have passed without much discussion or notice if CBS had chosen a different “encore” episode to air on August 30, the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Many people, who would have otherwise been at work, probably extended their three-day weekend to four days, so they were home on Friday to watch “The Talk.”

By the beginning of this week, Underwood was trying to walk back some of what she said. In an interview with Curly Nikki, she denied calling black hair “nasty.” (Maybe it was a Freudian slip.) She insisted that her comment was really about the practice of “cutting and saving what I consider as dead.”  This is laughable. As a woman who wears wigs and weaves, she knows perfectly well that the hair on her head once belonged to someone else. Is that nasty? She didn’t seem to realize that her suggestion that keeping black (afro) hair was nasty while keeping white “beautiful, long silky” hair was understandable was problematic. It reifies the good/bad dichotomy of white and black.

Locks of love. Saved by my paternal great-grandmother.

Locks of love. Saved by my paternal great-grandmother.

Admittedly, I don’t think I would save hair in this way. It seems a bit quirky, eccentric, or maybe even strange. But I call foul on this college-educated woman, who has been on this planet for nearly fifty years, feigning cultural ignorance.

My paternal grandmother saved a braided lock of hair from each of her seven children in her family Bible. When I found these locks recently, I thought it was sweet and sentimental, not “nasty.”

Underwood has issued a mea culpa for her ill-advised comments, insisting that it was a poor attempt at humor and not meant to hurt anyone. Although I was not hurt by her comments, I am less than impressed with her apology. I tend to think that she let her “jokes” go too far but that some truth also slipped out.

Natural in Iowa: A Work in Progress

I did not have a black beauty epiphany about the cultural relevance of natural hair when

Fully transitioned TWA

Fully transitioned TWA

I decided to let my relaxer grow out. I have always loved the wonderful, creative things that we black women can do with our hair. Mine had been “fried, dyed, and laid to the side” for quite some time. The decision to “go natural” was really just a matter of circumstance. I was happy with my relaxer and my pixie cut. Of course, there were some issues. In the summer, the relaxer changed the color of my hair from black to brown. Also, I had a spot where my hair seemed to be thinning, and I was sure this came from all the years of relaxers. But I probably would have still been wearing it the same way if I had not moved to Iowa two years ago. Yes. . . Iowa.

Finding a salon where I can get my hair done is usually one of the first things I do when I move to a new place. I can usually accomplish this by simply spotting someone with a stylish cut and inquiring where she got her ‘do. But the pickings were slim here. I found no one whose hair I admired. I searched the web and I found a few salons that looked promising. One  turned out to be closed. Another looked so shady that I didn’t go in. I tried one very professional-looking salon, but the hair stylist gave me a haircut that I could have done at home with a bowl. If I wanted to find a good salon, I was probably going to have to drive to Des Moines, a much larger city than where I live. I just wasn’t willing to make a two-hour drive to get my hair done. Finally, I decided I would go to the barber shop with my husband and get one of the barbers to cut my hair.

Well, my hair looked okay, but not really the way that I wanted it. It wasn’t laid. This went on for a while, as I debated internally and with Da Hype 1 about what to do. Finally, I decided that what I’d been doing was no longer working for me. It was time to shake things up, so in January 2013 I stopped relaxing my hair.

Four weeks after last relaxer. Only the top remained.

Four weeks after last relaxer. Only the top remained.

That was seven months ago. The perm is long gone and my TWA is in effect. Since my hair was already short, there was no need for “the big chop.” After one month, most of the perm was gone anyway.

I’ve received some compliments: My neighbor told me that my hair was “cool.” But I’ve also been informed that my hair is “densely packed” and that I need something to “loosen the curl pattern.” Hmm.. . sounds like code for nappy. But I’m not bothered by that.

At this point, I don’t know if I can consider the “transition” a success. It’s a work in progress. I don’t know what the future holds. Will I become impatient and relax it again? Will I keep it short, let it grow? Who knows? Wish me luck, y’all.

Tuesday Re-Post/Re-Mix: Blackness on Exhibit: Choosing to Objectify Our Own Bodies

Saartje Baartman

Saartje Baartman

I remember sitting in Dr. Carter’s African American History class in undergrad, when he passed around a picture of Saartje Baartman. There was silence in the room as he told the story of this woman who was from the Khoi tribe and how she was hunted and captured. Baartman, whose large buttocks were unlike anything her captors had seen, was considered a commodity–someone whose body could be used for profit in ways other than the traditional use as chattel.

After her capture in 1810, Baartman was quickly ushered off to London, where she was placed on exhibit because of her large buttocks (steatopygia) and her her elongated labia. Over the next few years, she became an “exhibit piece” in London, France, and other places in Europe, where people were welcomed to touch and examine her body as they chose.

Five years later, she died in France.

As if what happened to her while she was alive was not sickening, her genitals were preserved and placed on display at Paris’ Musee de L’Homme until 1974. Her native South Africa requested her remains from the museum so that they could bury her with dignity, but France did not acquiesce until 2002.

slave auctionThe hypervisibility and objectification of black bodies were exemplified by the slave block, where black bodies were made available to be picked, poked, and jabbed by potential purchasers who examined slaves’ bodies for bondage.

I have thought about Ms. Baartman lately, and I thought about countless other slaves on the auction block when I heard about an exhibit in New York City, where black women volunteered to have their hair touched by strangers who were curious to know what black hair felt like. This exhibit was sponsored by Un-ruly.com. Antonia Opiah, one of the organizers of the event says in Huffington Post, “In an effort to ‘take one for the team’ and to further explore the tactile fascination with black hair, Un’ruly will be holding an interactive public art exhibit in New York City . . . dubbed You can Touch My Hair.” She invited strangers to walk up to her and her team and touch their hair and explore what it felt like.

Through reading social media, I learned that this exhibit pissed off countless black women (and men, alike), who were horrified that black women were allowing themselves to be a part of a petting zoo. I have to agree with that sentiment.

Another thought occurred to me: After the Saartje Baartmans, after the auction block, after our Grandmothers and their mothers worked in white people’s kitchens where their bodies were still made available to the sexual exploitation of white men (and sometimes women), why are we still such a curiosity to white people?

If you are interested in seeing some images from the exhibit, check out the post from a blog I follow, Colorlines.

Oh, and, for the record: touch my hair without an invitation, and you’ll come up with missing fingers. Ya heard?

The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees: The War on Black Hair

Spike Lee's School Daze

Spike Lee’s School Daze. Pictured here is the scene with the Jigaboos and the Wannabees

In May of 2012, I had the last touch-up to my relaxer placed in my hair. Immediately afterward, I began considering the idea of allowing all of the chemicals to grow out of my hair. I was thinking about “going natural.” Actually, I had been considering it for a couple years before I made the leap, but in addition to the common reservations of not knowing how to manage it and the fear of how it may look on me, I also had one additional fear: I dreaded (no pun intended) being a part of, what feels like, a growing dissension between black women who wear natural hairstyles and those who don’t.

I absolutely detest the politics of black hair, but as much as I would like to say that my hair is apolitical, it is politicized with or without my consent.

An analysis of the history of black women and images of beauty will reveal how we were (and still are in many ways) made to feel unattractive if we have darker skin and kinky hair. Those with fairer skin oftentimes had access to more resources like jobs, though that didn’t necessarily mean that they were treated well. If you were light enough to pass for white, you could potentially abandon your family and community for some of the privileges of being white, and that came with the price of rarely or never seeing those darker family members who could expose you. Despite your complexion, passing for white was impossible if you had kinky hair, as it was a certain way of revealing your racial identity.

Dorothy Dandridge, Actress

Dorothy Dandridge, Actress

We have internalized this binary of pretty and ugly, where all that is beautiful is white. The converse of that perception indicates that the closer one’s features or physical characteristics are to being African, the more unattractive you are considered to be. Unless, of course, you were lucky enough to get the back-handed compliment, “You are pretty for a dark-skinned girl.”

We grew up in families and neighborhoods where the lighter child with “pretty” hair was more often doted on than the darker ones with tightly coiled hair. We heard those we love talk about “pretty hair” and “good hair” and how adorable it made one child because she was lucky enough to have it. No one had to say that kinky hair was unattractive, though many of our parents/grandparents actually did. The way that wavy textured or loosely curled hair was deemed most desirable, was enough to make the rest of us feel unattractive if we didn’t possess that type of hair. Black girls grew up believing they needed to get as close as possible to having “good hair” and, generally, it meant perming or weaving to accomplish it.

Even today, with so many black women wearing their hair naturally, I hear comments like, “She can go natural, she has a ‘good’ grade of hair” or “Natural hair looks nice on some people, but everyone can’t go natural. It’s not for everyone.” Both statements imply that natural hair is only alright if you have a particular texture hair, and tightly coiled her is never the desired look.

This is perplexing to me: anyone who wants to go natural can and should go natural if she wishes to do so. Not only is it their right to do so, but she can go natural and look beautiful. Taking that choice away from black women is equally as problematic coming from someone who is black as it is when it comes from predominately white corporations that insist on a particular look for their employees.

I certainly feel some sort of way when I hear people make comments like this because, by definition of “good hair”, the tightly coiled hair that grows out of my head is not it. Furthermore, nowhere in this conversation are people talking about the fact that straight hair (whether naturally straight or chemically straight) can be unkempt, unhealthy and unattractive.

The question that begs an answer: Why haven’t we evolved from this old perspective? What sadens me most is that these comments were made by black women in their 20s and 30s, and it does not sound very different from our grandmother’s disdain for nappy hair.

If only this was the only side of the black hair conversation that is disturbing to me.

Me and my hair, styled naturally

Me and my hair, styled naturally

I finally decided to “big chop” in January, and I was talking about the experience with a friend of mine at an event. A woman wearing locks decided to interrupt our conversation and say, “I’ve been wearing my hair naturally when you all were talking bad about me.”

First, I looked at her searching for something familiar in her face–she was speaking to me as if we knew each other. (I somehow refrained from saying, “heifer, you don’t know me,” but I digress.) When I realized that I did not know her, I understood that she was making assumptions about the two of us. For some unknown reason, she was hostile with us about our conversation about transitioning our hair. This hostility about relaxed hair is not new.

On Facebook I have read comments like, “Black women who put perm in their daughters’ hair are committing child abuse” and “Black women who wear their hair straightened or relaxed hate themselves.” The anger that is spewed toward black women who choose to relax their hair by some in the natural community is often articulated in what they call “love.” If this is what sisterly love looks like, I want none of it!

There are some in the natural hair community who are just as hostile about black women placing relaxers in their hair as women with chemically treated hair are about black women wearing their hair naturally. Once, a friend of a friend was stopped by a woman who told her that she was beautiful. She proceeded to compliment her outfit. Shortly afterward, she flipped the script and told her that she would be more beautiful if she didn’t put chemicals in her hair. She told her that she was buying into “the white man’s” perception of beauty and that doing so proved that she hated herself.

What is apparent to me is that this way that some black women choose to engage each other in regards to our hair is divisive, and it seems to me that we cannot afford to be divided on matters that don’t affect real change in our neighborhoods. If this year has taught me anything, it is that there are many issues in black communities that are still pervasive and need the attention of activists. From the violence our young boys face at the hands of racist vigilantes, to the attack on our right to vote, our current circumstances have proven that we have work to do. And, to put it plainly, “Ain’t nobody got time for that” conversation on black hair!

Blackness on Exhibit: Choosing to Objectify Our Own Bodies

Saartje Baartman

Saartje Baartman

I remember sitting in Dr. Carter’s African American History class in undergrad, when he passed around a picture of Saartje Baartman. There was silence in the room as he told the story of this woman who was from the Khoi tribe and how she was hunted and captured. Baartman, whose large buttocks were unlike anything her captors had seen, was considered a commodity–someone whose body could be used for profit in ways other than the traditional use as chattel.

After her capture in 1810, Baartman was quickly ushered off to London, where she was placed on exhibit because of her large buttocks (steatopygia) and her her elongated labia. Over the next few years, she became an “exhibit piece” in London, France, and other places in Europe, where people were welcomed to touch and examine her body as they chose.

Five years later, she died in France.

As if what happened to her while she was alive was not sickening, her genitals were preserved and placed on display at Paris’ Musee de L’Homme until 1974. Her native South Africa requested her remains from the museum so that they could bury her with dignity, but France did not acquiesce until 2002.

slave auctionThe hypervisibility and objectification of black bodies were exemplified by the slave block, where black bodies were made available to be picked, poked, and jabbed by potential purchasers who examined slaves’ bodies for bondage.

I have thought about Ms. Baartman lately, and I thought about countless other slaves on the auction block when I heard about an exhibit in New York City, where black women volunteered to have their hair touched by strangers who were curious to know what black hair felt like. This exhibit was sponsored by Un-ruly.com. Antonia Opiah, one of the organizers of the event says in Huffington Post, “In an effort to ‘take one for the team’ and to further explore the tactile fascination with black hair, Un’ruly will be holding an interactive public art exhibit in New York City . . . dubbed You can Touch My Hair.” She invited strangers to walk up to her and her team and touch their hair and explore what it felt like.

Through reading social media, I learned that this exhibit pissed off countless black women (and men, alike), who were horrified that black women were allowing themselves to be a part of a petting zoo. I have to agree with that sentiment.

Another thought occurred to me: After the Saartje Baartmans, after the auction block, after our Grandmothers and their mothers worked in white people’s kitchens where their bodies were still made available to the sexual exploitation of white men (and sometimes women), why are we still such a curiosity to white people?

If you are interested in seeing some images from the exhibit, check out the post from a blog I follow, Colorlines.

Oh, and, for the record: touch my hair without an invitation, and you’ll come up with missing fingers. Ya heard?