• Crystal Ampofo

Don't Touch My Hair

The versatility that comes with Black hair is simply...

...infinite and unstoppable.

Whether it's braided, straightened, long to the floor, short, maybe even bald...it's no secret that we take our crown very seriously.

And nothing irks us more when we receive unwarranted opinions or when we are left feeling disparaged. The relationship many of us have with our hair, it's fair to say, is a tumultuous one.

History teaches us that our hairstyles carry ancestral meaning - years ago, the way our hair was worn signified our age, mood or even occupation.

During slavery, hair was either shaved off or covered. After emancipation, social pressures and economic survival meant that Black Women were forced to assimilate to white culture through relaxers and wigs, as anything other was deemed ‘unkept’. It wasn’t until the 60s that we saw the surge of men and women rocking their 'fros or the early 90s when everyone styled their hair in 'Poetic Justice' braids.

Throughout the years, we have seen the beauty and versatility of Black hair.

Yet the stigma surrounding our crown remains - but we stay expressing ourselves through our hair!

To this day, societal attitudes toward Black hair on Black people are influenced by the white gaze - a social lens wherein our strands are seen as unkept or distracting.

That's why the topic of cultural appropriation and hair isn’t something to take lightly.

Calling cornrows 'Kim Kardashian' braids or styled baby hairs 'slicked down tendrils' is simply offensive, especially to a culture whose hair and expression are still policed...

When a non-Black person wears a hairstyle such as box braids, they get the privilege to wear it without the repercussions of being profiled as aggressive or 'ghetto' ...instead they are pronounced the ‘trendsetter’.

So when you start to think...'who cares?'...

Think about the countless men and women who feel the need to have their hair styled  more 'professionally' to bag a job, or the women fired for refusing to take out their hair , or the countless school girls and boys who are harassed by teachers for their braids - and compare it to the countless men and women who can do it all and are called eccentric.

The unwarranted comments on our hair are entirely unwelcome...because I promise you...we did not ask.

If my hair is chemically straightened, it does not mean I hate my blackness. If you rarely see me with my natural hair, it does not mean I hate my blackness.

And if you see me in a honey blonde Malaysian 13x6 frontal wig, flowing down to my hips looking like a Black Regina George, it does not mean I hate my blackness.

Hair is a medium of expression - and NOBODY should police mine.


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