In the summer of 2008 I cut off all my chemically straightened hair. No one warned me that my transition to a natural mini-fro meant I’d be flipping on a neon sign that would flash across my forehead, inviting curious white people to have a cultural experience with my hair but without my consent. Since then, I’ve been called everything from a snob to a black bitch for saying “no” to people who’ve asked to touch my hair.
Sometimes they don’t ask. They just snatch and grab—and then act shocked and angry when I don’t respond positively.
Given my experience, maybe I should’ve warned my 13-year-old son what he was in for when he decided last fall to grow his hair into an afro. After seven months, he has a breathtaking halo of hair—one that’s flashing the same undevised “touch me” message to his white peers. And he can’t take it anymore.