This article is re-posted from ChocolateHairVanillaCare.com. We’ve discussed the issue of “hair touching” before, but it’s great to hear a unique point of view.

Dear People Who Have, or May, Come Into Contact with My Daughter,

Thank you so much for your interest in my daughter’s hair. Yes, it is beautiful, we both appreciate your compliments. Yes, she’s very patient and has no problem sitting to have her hair done. She’s been getting her hair done since she was very small and knows of nothing else; her hair regime is a fact of life and she doesn’t see it as the burden that you do. Nor do I.

While asking me about my daughter’s hair, please do not start touching it. Just because I am a vanilla parent this does not mean that you have an “in” to touch chocolate hair for the first time. I have had too many people tell me, “Oooh, I’ve always wondered what their hair felt like,” while pawing my daughter. She’s not an animal, she’s a human being.

We teach our children that strangers touching them in inappropriate ways is wrong and that they should tell an adult immediately. In our opinion, anytime a child is touched by anyone who feels that they have a right to do so, against the child’s wishes and without the child’s permission, is inappropriate.

You see, every chocolate/jam/cheetos handprint on her hair from other children and/or adults is a mark on her dignity. She is small, but she does have personal space and a sense of self-worth. When you invade that space without her permission you are telling her that she has no rights to her body; that her desire to be left untouched is not as important as your curiosity.

Even if your hands are clean, they still leave a an invisible mark.

If you are sweet and kind enough to ask my daughter ahead of time if you can touch her hair, please do not be offended if she says, “No.” She is not being rude. She has no obligation to give the answer that you want. Her body is her own and if she does not want to share it with you at that moment, then please respect her rights. Don’t tell me that she’s being “disobedient” or “rude” or huff and walk away. In doing so, you are indirectly communicating that she owes you a piece of herself for no other reason than because you asked. She does not.

No, I do not do unique hairstyles for my daughter to attract your attention. I do them for her, to help foster a loving relationship with her natural hair so that she will grow up loving how God made her, hopefully minimizing any desire to alter herself to match someone else’s standard of beauty. Do not tell me that if I didn’t want her touched that I shouldn’t be doing all these hairstyles that say “look at me, touch me.” Do not blame the victim for your indiscretion or lack of self control.

If you are a teacher, please note that the first day of school is often very intimidating and making a really big deal about hair – on that day, or any day – while inviting other teachers and/or parents to come over to touch and finger-through a child’s head of hair, can be extremely overwhelming. Yes, she may be one of the few chocolate children at your school, but drawing so much attention to her will only highlight how different she is. Although I can address the issue with you while I’m present, I put my trust in you that you will protect my daughter throughout the day. Allowing classmates to put their hands in her hair or play with her beads is not only distracting to the class, it is also akin to hitting; it is a violation of my daughter’s person and I have to believe that you will do your best to keep this from happening. Just because it might not physically hurt her, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt her character.

I remember back in the days of being pregnant and how it used to bother me when strangers would come and touch my belly without my permission. I know that people struggle with holding back when their curiosity gets the best of them, but nevertheless it seemed only right to me that someone should ask before placing their hand(s) on my stomach.

But I am an adult. I have already formed my identity and self-worth and can hopefully express my discontent in constructive ways. Children are still learning about themselves in the world. They are not as certain of themselves, and if you cross a line they will often question the line, not you.

In conclusion, I pray that this letter is well-received, that those who may have done this in the past feel convicted and think twice before doing it again. For those who have never experienced chocolate hair, may it be a helpful insight into our beautiful world. For people who have recently welcomed a child with chocolate hair for the first time into your extended family, may you respect the child’s personal space and be kind and gentle with your questions and curiosities. For all, please remember that you are helping to shape the character of the adults of tomorrow; if we cannot respect the bodies of our children today, how can we expect them to respect themselves in the future?

Blessings,

Rory, Boo’s Mama

For more of Rory’s writings check out ChocolateHairVanillaCare.com. Ladies, what are your thoughts?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

Leave a Reply

650 Comments on "White Mother’s Opinion on Touching Daughter’s Natural Hair"

Notify of
avatar
Bridge

WOW!!! One of only a gagillion white folks that get it. She is a rare breed, don’t get it twisted, one of only a gagillion!

Bridge

NO!!!!!!!! Ladies stop it!!!!!!! “There is no one is better than zero.” Our collective history here, gives us the right to determine our own thoughts about our hair, skin and bodies! Just because one white woman appears to understand does not mean we applaud her! “Even if that were true”, you are g*damn right its true. I always have enough energy to call white folks on their shit, they are transparent and I see right through them!

anastasia

Please continue to call anyone out who needs schoolin’, regardless of race:) And please remember, to abstain from imbuing a group with so much power that ultimately ends in the out-group member consistantly being on the defensive and powerless. Peace and Blessings y’all 🙂

cypress

Even if that were true one is better than zero. And for your information, I know MANY White people who “get it”. We don’t like them generalizing us so let’s not do it to them okay? Peace.

anastasia
+ 1,000,000 This is not to understate the problem, b/c we all know that there is, yet, my husband of ten years “Gets it”. He has survived a lot of difficult lessons over the years to arrive at his current level of understanding, but he most certainly and honestly gets it. Let’s not forget that there have been many others throughout history who have gotten it-reach one, teach one as the saying goes…… And fact, an excellent example of one who get’s it is the author Tim Wise who penned “White Like Me” and many other notable books on the… Read more »
Emme

While I like Tim Wise, he is a perfect example of white validation that was discussed above.

anastasia
@ Emme: I respectfully do not agree with you. The author was used as an example of Whites who do get it-nothing more and nothing less. Maybe you read his works and feel validated, but I read his works and say ‘excellent research with thoughful critical analysis, but here is where I may or may not disagree with said analysis’-yup, it’s that simple. I respect Mr. Wise for his scholarship, just as I respect the scholarship of many deceased and living Black and non-black writers in the study of social systems. I really do believe that some people just have… Read more »
Emme

Ermm.

I was not specifically referring to you, but it has been noted by a lot of people, even Tim Wise himself, that a lot of his success is because people prefer to hear these things from him- a white male. He has built a career on discussing racism in America, something is not personally affected by.

Your last paragraph is sort of ridiculous. Whites DO have more power so it is not a matter of perception. They are NOT superior, but, collectively, they are more powerful.

Cat

+1

Annie L.

2nd!

kisha

I am happy this little girl can call this woman Mama!!

Soundslikeramona

Great article! I loved it!

Rebeccah El

I thought this was a very honest post. I believe it even transcends race, there are many times we see things that we like n feel the need to touch it (them). How many times do we feel disrespected when we are touched without permission? I think it is good practice even for children we know to ask there permission to see or touch anything to help them learn acceptable interactions between them and other adults or children. I thank you for helping me see things in another light!

CBoyce

I agree with this mother! She went straight to the point, and I just love it, that she is standing up for her daughter’s hair!

Ladybug

Great article!

Jasmine

Oh, and I’m waiting for a white person to write into BGLH about how it’s not okay to use an afro wig as a silly costume, so that Jasmine (the other Jasmine) can be justified. Because apparently, when these concerns come out of the mouth of black and bi-racial women, they have no credibility.

See here: http://bglhonline.com/2011/09/why-are-afros-considered-a-costume/

Kate

Geeze, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Stick to the subject at hand.

Jasmine
First off, I can comment as I please. People go off topic in the comment box all the time. It’s not unusual. Secondly, my concern has EVERYTHING to do with the subject at hand. How is it that, when white people make observations, they shoot to the top of the credibility list. But when black people say they same thing, they are automatically labeled as bitter, militant or misguided. I will say it (or type it) again: Black women lack self esteem, on many MANY level. And taking a relaxer out of one’s head is no indication that she has… Read more »
anastasia
Jasmine you do have a valid point and I think many of us who participate in this blog, whether we post or not, may agree. I think what you speak of is whose ‘voice’ is heard the loudest and given the most credibility. We see this often-for example- in the way “known” history has been rewritten and retracted to the benefit of others. But, the assumption that the majority of the positive comments are due to lack of self-esteem and feindish love of white validation seems a little over-reaching to me to the point of stereotyping. Yes, we know there… Read more »
Annie L.

Ditto! I’m exhausted reading all of this thread derailing.

Jasmine
I know I’m developing a checkered reputation for being a gut checker in the BGLH comment box. But I don’t care. I SIDE EYE all the people who yelled racism and succubus when Liz — A BI-RACIAL WOMAN — said EXACTLY the same thing as this mother is saying!!! For evidence look through the comments here: http://bglhonline.com/2011/07/hi-im-liz-no-you-still-cant-touch-my-hair/ It is sad because I believe that black women’s self esteem is SO LOW that they can only believe/accept something if a WHITE PERSON says it. This amazing mother is saying what many naturals have been saying all along — that they DON’T… Read more »
June

I agree with you. I see this apologist attitude more in the natural hair community, which is more surprising to me.

mek

Before I even read this article, Jasmine, I recalled the one you are talking about and the comments and thought to myself, “I bet everyone is going to love what this [white] woman has to say.” smh.

sarah
you know Jasmine, before you make sweeping judgments of a serious manner, i would suggest that you take into account just how large the readership of BGLH is and the fact that people make comments on certain topics because they want to. so, the same people who made the comments on this post may not be the same commentors of the other post. personally, i only make comments if i can relate. i made no comment on this post initially because i don’t have a child and cannot relate. but, personally, i take no issue with people, of any race,… Read more »
MommieDearest

OMG, Jasmnine I am SO in agreement with you on the “white validation” thing! Why does it take a white person to cosign on something before folks “get it”? And it really irks me that so many black people are guilty of this mentality.

I wonder if this letter would be as well-received and “fawned over” of the mother who wrote it was black.

BTW the “chocolate” and “vanilla” thing weirded me out too.

Jasmine

Ladies, excuse me. I linked to the incorrect article. I should have linked to this article: http://bglhonline.com/2011/07/touching-natural-hair-without-permission-is-it-a-race-thing/

Auset
I liked the article, but I can see what Jasmine is saying. White validation is real. It may not have been on BGLH, but I have read of black women not liking their natural hair touched, and people being like “Lighten Up! It’s just curiousity. I take it as a compliment when someone wants to touch my hair. Blah, blah, blah.” When I read this article, I thought, “Great points. But I hope that people don’t listen to her only because she is a white woman.” And this is from other Black women or People of Color. And it’s not… Read more »
binks

Agreed! no offense but this lady isn’t stating anything other mothers or women in general haven’t stated time in and out before so to me it isn’t anything new under the sun written here. I appreciate her effect nontheless

Jasmine
Thank you Auset. This is exactly what I’m talking about. We need to pay more attention to the power dynamics of our racial/gender interactions. Black people tend to view other black people (and, sadly, sometimes themselves) as lower/subservient in the power dynamic. It’s sad. And I see it alot on this site. A few years back, Leila posted an article about a black dad who was in charge of combing his daughter’s hair. The response was positive, but a bit tepid. It was nothing compared to the post about Clifton Greene (I believe his name is) a white man who… Read more »
Oyan

100,000,0000,000+!!

Elle
@Jasmine this is a very interesting POV but I’m not sure I agree. I think a large part of it is that we think that other black people *should* know how to care for their children’s hair and *should* understand our trials and tribulations, but on the other hand, we are so used to white people not “getting it” that when one does, we automatically breathe a sigh of relief and yell, “THANK YOU!” because it lets us know that not all white people live in their bubble of superiority and live life ignorantly because they can. The same can… Read more »
anastasia
@ Jasmine- yes, excellent point- members of a maligned group often eerily relish the validation of the majority/dominant group- but: Elle is right on point, imo, with her analysis: people expect in-group members to know [the tyranny of the “shoulds”]and out-group members to be unaware or completely uninterested about a set of knowledge, belief, attitudes, values etc…but as Elle put so wonderfully: “we are so used to white people not “getting it” that when one does, we automatically breathe a sigh of relief and yell, “THANK YOU!” because it lets us know that not all white people live in their… Read more »
Dolores

I really don’t think this woman, or any of us who have commented on this article, are saying that what has happened to the child is racist. I think the general consensus is that the child’s personal space has been invaded. In that regard, I think you’ve drawn a comparison with the prior article by taking it out of context.

naddie

I for one have never thought it was okay. Being the person who has white co-workers who feel the need to try and make my hair poofier because it is too “straight” for them. I shouldn’t have to teach others to be respectful, I have my own child to teach! I don’t go around touching ANYone’s hair; caucasoid, negroid, mongoloid or any others. I don’t want to touch my daughter’s hair, LOL . . .

Cat
The article you posted is not in the same context as this one. The mother in this letter is defending her daughter, a child. Liz in the other article is a grown woman facing another grown woman. In article, “Hi, I’m Liz. No, You Still Can’t Touch My Hair” I do not see where anyone in the *comments* said, “Oh, they’re just curious.” “Oh, they’ve never seen it before and we have to teach them.” “Oh, just give them a break, you’re being too scary and militant.” – they all defended Liz. I think you’re on the taking things out… Read more »
Jasmine

I’m sorry. I linked to the incorrect article. It should have been this one: http://bglhonline.com/2011/07/touching-natural-hair-without-permission-is-it-a-race-thing/

Oyan

I agree with you Jasmine. I’ve seen similar responses and cringed.

Warren Parker

“You see, every chocolate/jam/cheetos handprint on her hair from other children and/or adults is a mark on her dignity. She is small, but she does have personal space and a sense of self-worth.”

Stated like a pro; I’d like to tell you, Rory, that this wisdom should be universal. She’s a person, not a dolly!

df

wonderful mother…she knows she can’t empathize with her daughter but the love for that child has opened her eyes to something like this…one of the most invaluable things in this world is the pure love of a mother 🙂

Dolores
Another thing is that I wholeheartedly agree with her about respecting a child’s personal space (in general and not just in regards to hair). In my parents’ culture, it is respectful to embrace adults with a kiss on the cheek. I was a shy child; I didn’t like strangers, and I always hated greeting adults with a hug or a kiss. I really don’t think children should be directed to hug or embrace adults unless they want to. It’s the same for babies. At times, they don’t want to be held by anyone other than their parents. That’s why I… Read more »
Giulia

I clicked on the site link and the first ad I saw on the blog was…

“Get permanent skin whitening”??

Talk about irony. *rolls eyes*

Yuupp
Ummm…. Are you sure you read that? She does have ads that are for for TEETH Whitening. Also depending on what ad systems they use, some bloggers do not have absolute control over what ads are featured because it’s like a random pick depending on the larger ad system— something like Google AdSense. I see many natural websites still advertising perms and other hair straighteners because of this. So seeing that she has a black child and has a blog that encourages her self esteem I highly doubt she believes in skin whitening or would accept the money. When she… Read more »
Giulia

Oh, I didn’t say it was the blogger’s fault! I know very well bloggers don’t have much control over what gets publicized on their blog.
And it was definitely a SKIN whitening ad.

That said, the blog looks great. 🙂 (Just the ad made me cringe for a moment).

Carla

I was just about to say that. When I ran a blog, it was a losing game chasing after certain inappropriate ads and manually blocking them in AdSense/AdWords.

Dolores

Her website really has a WEALTH of information about good hair care practices. I do my own hair, but I don’t have children, but if I did, I think I would have to make some adjustments for my child’s hair routine. I appreciate her letter, website etc., but the chocolate/vanilla references are a little weird and it kinda makes me cringe. I’m not saying they are racist, just weird…

BlaqueInfinite

awww this was so loving!

LOCALCELEB

My parents could have used some tips, as I was the “only” African American child in the city up through graduation. My mother tried, and had a few hits/misses as I would normally end up losing hair, after someone would convince her that I needed a straightening comb or perm.. My hair was touched probably every day I attended school, including high school, it was like this crazy fascination..they would never ask, they would just touch.. during class, track practice..whenever.. I wish I could have posted this letter in our school newsletter!

Susan

The “chocolate hair” phrase is extremely annoying. However, I do agree with the overall context of the letter.

Annie L.

Standing ‘effing’ ovation! Just an amazing advocacy statement from a mother for her child, for all children that also applies to many adults, especially women. Beautiful girl and hairstyles on the site. This should be printed and memorized by other children and adults the world over. Just brava again!

Rose Alexis
How lucky is this little black girl whose mum called her Boo! I punched a girl for callig me a boo and other racist names at primary school, lets hope she has better luck. And what’s all this about chocolate and vanilla, it might sound sweet to some people but to me these are racist terms. I’m no chocolate hair or anything else. I’m not sure this kid is being taught anything useful about herself or her black heritage. And when the hell did it become politically correct to use the term ‘nappy hair’ never mind printing it in big… Read more »
Jen

My daughter refers to me as “chocolate” at to herself as “caramel.” She refers to other friends and family using similar descriptors, including “vanilla” and “dark chocolate.” I refer to people to her using the same descriptors. I have no idea why anybody would think they are inappropriate.

Emme

‘I have no idea why anybody would think they are inappropriate.’

Because everyone doesn’t have the same mind?

Audrey

+1

My sons call me dark brown, their daddy white and themselves light brown. They also called me chocolate, and call themselves “sugar” because they think sugar is light brown since we don’t use white sugar. I don’t have a problem with the language used at all.

Lin

[imgcomment image[/img]

Man, I seriously thought this was going to be a positive post, with us all fawning over a mother that really “gets it.”
Guess I’m expecting too much, huh?

bee
@LIN – I know! I agree with you. Here this lady takes the time to get to know her daughter’s heritage enough to learn how to do her hair which most non-black parents are NOT doing,, hell some black parents don’t even know enough about their own heritage to pass on to a child besides what pop culture throws their way I don’t think and instead of getting love she gets criticisms over silly things like the use of the term chocolate and vanilla. If she wants to call her kid chocolate and herself vanilla whats the big deal? Everyone… Read more »
cygnet
Unless I miss my guess, Rose Alexis is from the U. K., not from the U. S. A. To her, “chocolate” and “Boo” carry the same impact as “nigger” and “coon” have to us when they come from the lips of a racially prejudiced non-black person. And some people just don’t like the word “nappy”, for the same reason. This particular post was about an American white woman and her black adoptive child. That being so, her use of the terms that set Rose Alexis off is consistent with how U. S. Americans use and understand them. She certainly didn’t… Read more »
bee
@cygnet – first maybe you should follow your own advice and give rose alexis some credit since i’m sure she knows that terms of endearment differ across international/national lines and hopefully did not come to the conclusion that a negative term in her community can’t be used quite benignly elsewhere and vice versa(and second you are assuming I am not from UK myself and know what racist terms are therein used) furthermore she said the term chocolate sounds racist ‘to [her].’ i did not see where she said its a commonly-accepted general term used in her community to denigrate Blacks… Read more »
cygnet
@bee: I generally strive for clarity whenever I communicate, and especially when I communicate in a medium such as this. Obviously I wasn’t clear enough for you, and I apologize for causing offense; that was not my intention. You say, “first maybe you should follow your own advice and give rose alexis some credit since i’m sure she knows that terms of endearment differ across international/national lines and hopefully did not come to the conclusion that a negative term in her community can’t be used quite benignly elsewhere and vice versa . . . .” First, I did give her… Read more »
LBell
The only thing I kinda-sorta agree with you on is the use of “chocolate” and “vanilla” when writing text meant for adults. Not sure where you’re from but “boo” has become a common term of endearment amongst black Americans. Usually it’s used for a significant other but still… Re the use of the word “nappy”: I know this is still an issue amongst some but I really don’t have a problem with it so long as it’s not being used in a derogatory fashion. If you’re referring to her product review of Happy Nappy Styles moisturizer…here’s a picture of the… Read more »
Nita
My only thought is that you said a brochure should be given to non black parents who are adopting black or biracial children but everyone needs help when it comes to doing their childrens hair I have met and know may black parents who don’t know what or how to do their childrens hair and I have met many black parents who have a lack of self love and destroy their childrens self image and confidence by adding sinthetic hair to their childrens or by giving their children relaxers to straighten their hair way too early. I really didn’t read… Read more »
LBell

When it comes to all parents, regardless of color, knowing how to do black children’s hair, I agree with you.

Most of my comment was in response to Rose Alexis’. The last part was in response to Rory (the mother above). I’m not sure exactly how much more positive you needed it to be. Perhaps you need to look up the meaning of “kudos”? Here, I’ll help (see definition to):

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kudos

JL

oh dear, glass half empty instead of half full?

bee

from a new mom’s perspective, especially one raising abiracial child. i loved this. i also loved her view of what a child is to the world. they are little people learning about themselves and how to operate in the world who deserve their share of dignity and respect, too often because they are children, people don’t think children deserve that level of respect as well but a child who is not respected does not learn self-respect when an adult. its great to know I am not alone in my thinking about children. and i am in admiration., 🙂

anastasia

Yes!! I agree 🙂

Audrey

Oh my! I love this!

Shelli

Ditto to all of the comments!! This little girl is very lucky to have such a supportive mom and one who seems to have thoroughly trained herself on how to do her daughter’s hair. As someone said above, have you seen the styles she has done on Boo?!?! GORGEOUS!!

sugarcoated

this letter is so touching. i have never been in support of people touching other people’s body just because you admire them

sunshyne84

Beautiful! This goes for any child or adult for that matter. Keep your hands to yourself is the first rule we learn in school any way.

Engee

Okay besides the fact that this letter is just plain AWESOME and that the kid is overly cute… have any of you checked out the hairstyles the little girl rocks on the photo gallery?? The cutest/hottest/fiercest hairstyles!!

I definitely have stolen some ideas!!!!! just plain awesome…. Here is the link…

http://gallery.chocolatehairvanillacare.com/

anastasia

+100

Mom is no joke-those styles are just wonderful!! And yes, lil Boo is toooooo cute….awwww….i’m in love:)

Big warm shout out to this loving family!!

Carla

Thank you for writing this. Your daughter is so beautiful and its nice to see the care and attention you put into her. I love her hair and her sweater!

Ashley
I love this. It’s amazing to see that there are white women with black children that know how to take care of their childs hair AND respect the childs hair so much. Where I live, there are a lot of biracial kids (nearly anywhere anymore lol). Usually the kid will have a head full of matted hair or clearly damaged puffballs. Sometimes I want to snatch up the kid and throw some moisture in their hair. My brother-in-law does not know how to take care of my nephews hair and rejects what we try to do for his hair. If… Read more »
Marie

Love it! So well written & sincere. Both you and your daughter are beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

JP23

YES!!!!!! I am so happy this little girl has someone to advocate for her! This woman is just awesome!

Jas

*picks up jaw* Oh my. I love it. I don’t know any other way to put it. It makes my heart smile.

June

+ 1,000,000,000

naddie

+1

Crystal

Yes!! 🙂 Wow!

babytmarie28

i agree!

Melissa

Cute little girl!

1 7 8 9
wpDiscuz