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As part of a social exper­i­ment a group of black wom­en — one nat­u­ral, one loc’ed and on relaxed — stood on a street cor­ner in New York hold­ing signs say­ing “You Can Touch My Hair”. The experiment/exhibit is the brain­child of Anto­nia Opi­ah, a hair blog­ger. In an arti­cle for The Huff­in­g­ton Post she states;

Black hair is unique. It requires dif­fer­ent care tech­niques and rou­ti­nes. And in a coun­try where we pri­mar­i­ly see com­mer­cials for white hair prod­ucts and mag­a­zi­nes that main­ly cov­er white beau­ty top­ics and TV shows that main­ly fea­ture white char­ac­ters, we, and those curi­ous about us, have to find infor­ma­tion about our hair from oth­er sources.

It’s easy to cite the media as the cause for under­ex­po­sure to the var­i­ous cul­tures of Amer­i­ca. The media def­i­nite­ly plays a huge role. But anoth­er fac­tor is the lack of the right kind of curios­i­ty across the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion.

The exhibit ran today and will run again on June 8th from 2 to 4 p.m. in New York City’s Union Square.

Okay, so I usu­al­ly post arti­cles with­out com­men­tary, but for this I had to.

I think it both­ers me that the impe­tus is put on us as black wom­en to become acces­si­ble — and in some cas­es accept­able — to oth­er eth­nic­i­ties. I under­stand that black peo­ple are just 12% of the pop­u­la­tion so not every­one has ‘access’ to a black per­son. But it’s well doc­u­ment­ed that, for many Amer­i­cans, seg­re­ga­tion is a mat­ter of choice and not cir­cum­stance. I fear that a dis­play like this allows some peo­ple the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dip into black cul­ture for an expe­ri­ence before return­ing to the ‘safe­ty’ of a sig­nif­i­cant­ly less diverse world.

A sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of wom­en in the nat­u­ral com­mu­ni­ty are mar­ried inter­ra­cial­ly. Which proves that it is pos­si­ble for men of oth­er races to form mean­ing­ful and sub­stan­tive bonds with black wom­en with­out the­se types of dis­plays.

I am still firm­ly opposed to strangers touch­ing my hair. And while I take no offense at strangers ask­ing ques­tions about it (I wel­come it), I hope we’ve got­ten to a point in this coun­try where my com­mon­al­i­ties with a per­son of anoth­er eth­nic­i­ty are more inter­est­ing to explore than my dif­fer­ences.

But that’s just me… And on an unre­lat­ed note, those col­ored locs and that curly fro are FIRE! What are your thoughts on this ladies?

Pho­tos are from Un-ruly.com’s Insta­gram account.

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…

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270 Comments on "Black Women Stand on NY Street and Allow Strangers to Touch Their Hair as Part of Social Experiment"

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Craig

As a white man I find black women’s hair in all it’s forms beau­ti­ful to look at and touch. Luck­i­ly I found an African wife to put up with me!
We have a two year old daugh­ter and being mixed race her hair is well on the way to look­ing like the girl on the left. Crazi­ly unruly bu gor­geous !

coffeeandfingernails
I don’t know if social exper­i­ment is the right phrase–she actu­al­ly calls it an “inter­ac­tive pub­lic art exhibit” which is prob­a­bly more accu­rate. I think her point about expo­sure to nat­u­ral hair being rare is a fair one–black wom­en are about 6% of the pop­u­la­tion, nat­u­ral black wom­en are a sig­nif­i­cant­ly small­er per­cent­age, so, espe­cial­ly if you aren’t from a major city with a large black pop­u­la­tion, it’s like­ly you’ve nev­er seen nat­u­ral hair in per­son. It’s true some people’s “curios­i­ty” is offen­sive and con­de­scend­ing (I put any­one who just walks up and grabs in this cat­e­go­ry), but a lot… Read more »
Love being me

I also think it’s more impor­tant to edu­cate the black com­mu­ni­ty more than any­one else and encour­age a love for our hair, skin col­or diver­si­ty our race respect­ing oth­ers and being proud of who we are before we look to teach oth­ers about it.

Belle
I think peo­ple are judg­ing this exper­i­ment pre­ma­ture­ly. The writer should have not filled more than half of the arti­cle with their own opin­ion. There­by tak­ing the focus away from the rea­son behind the exper­i­ment and its results. I grew up in Africa and like Sana I too had one or two moments of want­i­ng to touch Cau­casian hair. I remem­ber won­der­ing if my green eyed teacher could real­ly see me with eyes that col­or. Now that I have been exposed to peo­ple of all races and from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, I not only have a greater appre­ci­a­tion of oth­er human… Read more »
KiKi
“The writer should have not filled more than half of the arti­cle with their own opin­ion” — I agree! The wom­en labeled this as a per­for­mance exhi­bi­tion, which is meant to pro­voke and engage the audi­ence. Praise and intrigue on one side, eye­rolls and uproar on the oth­er, all typ­i­cal reac­tions to per­for­mance art in my expe­ri­ence. Con­tro­ver­sial, enlight­en­ing, sil­ly, load­ed — they are com­mon on NYC streets.  Every­one car­ries anx­i­ety about ‘the oth­er’ and their own per­ceived ‘oth­er­ness’. We live in close prox­im­i­ty, but some still lack an iota of aware­ness of friends and loved ones, it’s uncom­fort­able. And an… Read more »
Sabrina Antoinnette

Thank you for this post, Belle! I agree and have had a sim­i­lar cir­cum­stance in my upbring­ing. I am Jamaican.

MissK
What is the point of this exper­i­ment? This is what I wan­na know.  To teach peo­ple about black culture/heritage? if that’s the case then why do they need to touch the­se women’s hair? It says noth­ing of the culture/heritage, only of their phys­i­cal appear­ance. It would be bet­ter to sit and have an actu­al dis­cus­sion. If the peo­ple are just com­ing up and touch­ing their hair, and not doing any­thing else to fol­low it up, it’s pret­ty point­less ‘exper­i­ment’, and is more like a pet­ting zoo, and in turn offen­sive because we are not ani­mals. And how many peo­ple who touched… Read more »
Love being me
I’m a proud black wom­an and am also proud of my hair because it’s a part of me. I don’t get this project. We are not to try to make peo­ple accept us under­stand us and love us. We are all dif­fer­ent and should be proud of it I don’t think stand­ing on a street cor­ner hold­ing up signs try­ing to inspire curios­i­ty is the answer. Oth­er races don’t have to explain their hair nei­ther should we. I’ve heard peo­ple com­plain because their boss won’t allow them to come to work with cer­tain nat­u­ral hair­styles because they don’t like it.… Read more »
Kris

There a many non-Black peo­ple that have nev­er seen or touched kinky/curly/locked/relaxer hair up close. I under­stand how this could be offen­sive — pet­ting zoo aspect, how­ev­er, I think it is over­all pret­ty great. This was sim­ply an exper­i­ment worth try­ing just to edu­cate. There are so many peo­ple igno­rant of what the peo­ple in their soci­ety look like. Igno­rance cre­ates fear. I’d rather not be feared.

Sana
I grew up in Africa and I remem­ber the first time I saw a white per­son up close. I was curi­ous espe­cial­ly about their hair and skin and eye col­or because their fea­tures were for­eign so dif­fer­ent from mine and what I was used to see­ing. I did want to touch their hair to see what it felt like. Peo­ple are just curi­ous in nature. This exper­i­ment doesn’t both­er if any­thing I am slight­ly amused and wouldn’t do such a thing. I’ve been nat­u­ral for nine months. My fam­i­ly was indif­fer­ent but I’ve been known to do me. They touched my… Read more »
Naija81

Being curi­ous doesn’t provide you the room to be dis­re­spect­ful. There are oth­er ways to learn about oth­er people’s cul­ture with­out putting them on dis­play. Google is a pow­er­ful tool. If that’s not avail­able to you, your mouth is just as pow­er­ful.

jasmine
lets all rememe­ber, the­se wom­en were not PUT on dis­play, they will­ing­ly chose to INVITE oth­ers to touch their hair. They CHOSE to INVITE oth­ers to touch THEIR hair. We all know the dif­fer­ence between being forced to do some­thing and choos­ing, with­out coer­cion, to do it. Also, ask­ing some­one if you can touch their hair is not in and of itself dis­re­spect­ful, but the man­ner in which you do (or in some cas­es) do not ask… i got­ta say i like that they are doing thi, it send the mes­sage that “you don’t touch my hair when You want to .. you… Read more »
stone

Ha! They all want­ed to touch the big hair

Sharon
I am bi-racial and I have very straight fine hair. When I was going up (I grew up in the black com­mu­ni­ty) friends and non-friends would want to touch or play with my hair. I didn’t like it then and def­i­nite­ly would not like it now. My daugh­ter has thick, long, curly hair and her friends and oth­ers are always want­i­ng to play in it. She prefers for them not to. Once, while we were out, a grown wom­an want­ed to touch my daughter’s hair and I screamed, “Do not touch my child!” My son wears his hair in a… Read more »
Jesse
My ini­tial respon­se to this project was that it looks some­what degrad­ing. I cer­tain­ly wouldn’t do it. I get that the pur­pose is to show­case black hair to peo­ple who don’t know, but why not have a sym­po­sium? Why not have a con­ver­sa­tion about it? Will walk­ing by and touch­ing hair real­ly start the con­ver­sa­tion that is nec­es­sary to expand people’s con­cepts of beau­ty? I don’t know for sure, but I just don’t feel that this is the way to do it. This doesn’t place black beau­ty on a pedestal. This so-called “exhibit” makes black beau­ty look like some­thing of… Read more »
Jesse

And I hate to say, but the imagery of black peo­ple stand­ing in a line for white peo­ple on any peo­ple to touch and prod reminds be of what I read about slave auc­tion blocks in Wal­ter Johnson’s Soul By Soul (AMAZING book!). It is just not flat­ter­ing to por­tray blacks in this way. If some­one wants to know about Japan­ese hair or cul­ture, one wouldn’t line them up in a row to be gawked at pub­licly. One would read about Japan­ese cul­ture, spend time in Japan, talk to Japan­ese peo­ple, etc.… This “exhibit” is just sad.

stephanieb

I was think­ing the same thing too Jesse, it makes black women’s hair look like it should be in some pet­ting zoo for the spec­tac­tors to come “ooh” and “ahh” and touch like it’s some kind of endan­gered species, or some­thing. Do the­se wom­en not have any shame or self-respect. I’m sor­ry but they look like clowns stand­ing there on the street with that stu­pid sign and I’m sure most of the peo­ple pass­ing by, black and white, thought that too. Some­times I just don’t know what the hell is wrong with us as a peo­ple, SMH!!!!!

Pride in What Makes Me Me
Pride in What Makes Me Me
How is this a social exper­i­ment? What are they test­ing? How is this more than just a dis­play or social *state­ment*? This sounds an awful lot like the Venus Hot­ten­tot to me, vol­un­tary dis­play that it might be. I see what they’re try­ing to do, but I don’t think it’s black women’s job to become a spec­ta­cle in order to col­lec­tive­ly dis­pel white “curios­i­ty and ques­tions.” I mean, we don’t go up to a wom­an wear­ing a burqa and say “What are you hid­ing under there?” Do we next walk around shirt­less to show that our breasts look dif­fer­ent and… Read more »
colorfulkinks.wordpress.com
colorfulkinks.wordpress.com

you sound so artic­u­late! Wow, i’m gonna go read now. :)

Rine

Cosign 3000%

Naija81

Exact­ly. Thank you. Took the words out of my mouth.

Andie

Very well said!

sapph

so i dont get it. why dont you want any­one touch­ing your hair?? oth­er than the pet­ting zoo aspect i mean? where i m frm you hair in a good style or puffed and it’s like every­body goes fin­gers first.
and while only some­times i dnt like it, i dont under­stand why so many oth­er ppl dont?
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sapph

so i dont get it. why dont you want any­one touch­ing your hair?? oth­er than the pet­ting zoo aspect i mean? where i m frm you hair in a good style or puffed and it’s like every­body goes fin­gers first.
and while only some­times i dnt like it, i dont under­stand why so many oth­er ppl dont?

Kaila P

because most peo­ple just stick thier hands in it , because the tex­ture and kink­i­ness is hon­est­ly just fas­ci­nat­ing, most of them are real­ly not try­ing to be mali­cious and doont real­ize that we don’t like it

sAPH

so Kalia P why don’t you like ppl touch­ing your hair??

Esther
Your last ques­tion was “what are your thoughts on (the­se) ladies”? The­se ladies are beau­ti­ful and so is their hair but my thought is the whole idea of stand­ing in the mid­dle of the street as a mad wom­an try­ing to impose your beau­ty on WHO in par­tic­u­lar???? The igno­rant will of course stop and feel/touch your hair but the intel­li­gent knows and would rather go by his/her day busi­ness cos its a waste of time. The head­line of the exhibit is (YOU CAN TOUCH MY HAIR) and what hap­pens next??? May­be, I mis­un­der­stood the whole con­cept but this arti­cle is… Read more »
Francis

I was present and I would inter­est­ing was that every­one most­ly touched the nat­u­ral and loc’d hair, peo­ple rarely touched the relax hair. I don’t see this as degrad­ing, I find this empow­er­ing, I tired of black hair being a polit­i­cal state­ment, it’s just hair.

prina
This is why I miss liv­ing in New York, there is always some­thing going on like this. As much as peo­ple think NYC is so Diverse, that doesn’t mean they aren’t curi­ous. I nev­er under­stood why peo­ple have a prob­lem with some­one touch­ing there hair. Your not cut­ting it, you not wash­ing it, and your not throw­ing some­thing in it. sooo Why be pet­ty about some­one touch­ing it. Peo­ple play with and touch long straight hair on peo­ple all the time. It won’t mess it up. I’m the only black girl at my job and they are amazed at how… Read more »
cb

@ Pri­na I’ve been to the Dako­tas, the peo­ple will not ask you to touch your hair, they will TOUCH your hair…they feel they are ENTITLED to touch…because you are just a lit­tle black gal to them…a lit­tle pet…beware of states that do not have a lot of black peo­ple, and even states that have a huge black population…this is STILL AMERICA…some will get angry when you tell them no!

mishapley
What’s wrong with allow­ing peo­ple to dip into black cul­ture before return­ing home to safe­ty? That’s what peo­ple do with things new and dif­fer­ent. You check­out some­thing new and take the expe­ri­ence home and share it. You begin to see and appre­ci­ate and val­ue the dif­fer­ences as well as the com­mon­al­i­ties. I think it’s unsat­is­fied curios­i­ty that can lead to mis­con­cep­tion and some­times harm­ful spec­u­la­tion. That some feel dimin­ished by this exper­i­ment tells me a bit about their life expe­ri­ence. Why do you feel so vis­cer­al­ly about what some­one else is doing, because they’re also black, because it reflects back… Read more »
Emma J B W
Hel­lo all, I vis­it­ed NYC for the first time from Lon­don, UK, in June last year. I had a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence on the whole apart from one after­noon while vis­it­ing the Empire State Build­ing. I had a white Amer­i­can lady approach me from behind and say “can I touch your hair?”. It was a sur­prise to say the least. I said “I’d real­ly rather you didn’t” and car­ried on with my day. It’s only after the expe­ri­ence with the months between that I have con­sid­ered the posi­tion of the wom­en. From my per­spec­tive, I didn’t want to be pet­ted and stud­ied… Read more »
s

great arti­cle!!! im a cen­tral amer­i­can wom­an, i have straight hair that i wear in braids down to almost my waist.. id get the same respond from peo­ple want­i­ng to touch my braids.sometimes they’d ask some­times they would just touch.. think any­thing that looks exotic is open sea­son for sone folks…

Boyhead

Mixed feel­ings about this. Makes us seem ‘exotic’… like we’re alien to the rest of soci­ety that has ‘nor­mal’ hair. This exotic qual­i­ty is good and it can be bad — depend­ing on the con­text. I dun­no…

Trice
The only way we can dis­pute the myths is by telling the truth and shar­ing who we are cul­tur­al­ly with oth­er peo­ple. With­out peo­ple who are will­ing to open­ly intro­duce the cul­ture we would main­tain a con­stant pat­tern of exclu­siv­i­ty or even mys­teri­um. True, I do not want a ran­dom per­son touch­ing me, but for the para­me­ters of what they are doing I think it is a good idea and I would active­ly par­tic­i­pate :) When we were lit­tle girls how often did we “play” in each oth­ers hair. I grew up in DC, where the major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion… Read more »
Tisha

So…I under­stand doing some­thing that is shock­ing and/or usu­al­ly frowned upon to gath­er some info/data but I don’t real­ly under­stand what they were try­ing to achieve? Are they try­ing to fig­ure out if “oth­ers” are still igno­rant about black hair??…why not just walk to the street and ask peo­ple questions?…this reminds me of the “Ask a Jew” expo that was held in Germany(I think). A lit­tle weird IMO but oh,well…

On anoth­er note, if that were me, I would have bit­ten some fin­gers off…especially the less than ten­der ones!!

Aude

My opin­ion is that the fact of peo­ple touch­ing your hair is noth­ing neg­a­tive. If you allow them to in order to break down prej­u­dice and igno­rance, then why not? 

Dif­fer­ence are not neg­a­tive they are beau­ti­ful and enrich­ing. They become neg­a­tive when they are used in a harm­ful way. 

I believe that the­se ladies did a good thing. Instead of just let peo­ple cre­ate ‘myths’ around black people’s hair they have engaged them in a way that could lead to talk­ing about racial dis­crim­i­na­tion with­in soci­ety.

jacqueline
i have been asked… can i touch your hair when it was long and i wore it out poof style pulled back in a hair tie. it was a col­league, and i thought he was a creep­er, but i let him touch it. it’s so soft. he was amazed. i have also been asked how long it is stretched out by a female col­league at work. so i loos­ened my braid and we stretched it out almost to my waist. i cut it short, but it’s type 3 what­ev­er hair. folks were curi­ous, blacks and whites, when i cut my hair,… Read more »
Tee tee

I agree with the writer of this arti­cle.

This can also look at why peo­ple on the whole think we (black peo­ple) are unap­proach­able and can only be acces­si­ble with ‘exper­i­ments’ such as the­se. That would be inter­est­ing for me.

Also .… . I am curi­ous … What exact­ly hap­pens once their hair has been touched? A gen­er­al chat about hair prac­tices? A lit­tle his­to­ry pro­vid­ed on the pol­i­tics sur­round­ing black hair? Or do the peo­ple just touch the hair of silent hair mod­els and leave?

Megan

Yeah…I’d like to see this on video and observe the reac­tions as well as self-selec­tion of who decides to come up and touch…really curi­ous which mod­el gets the most atten­tion too.

Erika
Do I think it’s a good exper­i­ment? Not real­ly. If some­one (black, white, or oth­er) decid­ed to touch any­ones hair, they should then be asked to fill out a sur­vey or be con­tact­ed at a lat­er date to real­ly deter­mine why they felt the need to touch the hair of per­son A B or C. If it was to be a more pro­duc­tive exper­i­ment there should be more of an exper­i­men­tal com­po­nent that would add to the over­all find­ings. On anoth­er note, I would not let any­one and every­one touch/ feel on my hair because who knows when those paws… Read more »
Megan

“A sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of wom­en in the nat­u­ral com­mu­ni­ty are mar­ried inter-racial­ly. Which proves that it is pos­si­ble for men of oth­er races to form mean­ing­ful and sub­stan­tive bonds with black wom­en with­out the­se types of dis­plays.”

That’s the issue right there–The voyeurism that Amer­i­cans already exhibit way too much of. Peo­ple of oth­er eth­nic­i­ties aren’t walk­ing exhibits from EPCOT. Form real, human rela­tion­ships if you want the expe­ri­ence. Encour­ag­ing peo­ple to fur­ther sep­a­rate indi­vid­u­al human beings that are “for­eign” to them into a col­lec­tion of char­ac­ter­is­tics is irre­spon­si­ble.

LBell
THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post. With­out going into a lot of detail (for once, lol) I have spent a good chunk of my life being that representative/educator (obvi­ous­ly not just when it comes to hair, but Black Peo­ple™ in gen­er­al) and at this point I am DONE. If oth­er sis­ters want to go on and demys­ti­fy what real­ly isn’t that all that frick­in’ com­pli­cat­ed — and in pub­lic, no less — then good for them. I, how­ev­er, am pret­ty much over it. And I REALLY have to applaud both the idea of repeat­ing this exper­i­ment in a black neigh­bor­hood —… Read more »
Mai

My irri­ta­tion with the nat­u­ral hair com­mu­ni­ty is the assump­tion that peo­ple of oth­er races have neg­a­tive opin­ions about our hair, and while def­i­nite­ly depen­dant upon loca­tion, I tru­ly don’t believe this to be true. When I BC’d all the pos­i­tiv­i­ty came from white peo­ple while my black fam­i­ly and friends seemed to have an end­less sup­ply of neg­a­tive com­ments. I think it would be more ben­e­fi­cial to have this project, or some­thing very sim­i­lar, in black com­mu­ni­ties so that we as a race can appre­ci­ate and love our own beau­ty instead of try­ing to unnec­es­sar­i­ly prove it to anoth­er race.

TWA4now

I agree! If we wore our nat­u­ral hair out more, it won’t be a mys­tery not only to oth­ers but our own black race as well!#enoughsaid4now

'Quel

Girl, please. Yes, WE know our hair is beau­ti­ful. But, how many lit­tle white girls are rush­ing out to the salon try­na get their hair to look like ours? You KNOW the answer to that. They DON’T envy our hair. They would rather have their silky, smooth limp hair than our thick some­times coarse hair. It’s not racism that I speak, it’s fact.

Mai

I’m not sure why you are com­par­ing white peo­ple want­i­ng to look like white peo­ple to black peo­ple want­i­ng to look like white peo­ple. The fact of the mat­ter is, in many black homes, lit­tle black girls are being taught that their hair is bad. They are taught that, with­out long, silky hair like their white coun­ter­parts, they can­not be beau­ti­ful or suc­cess­ful. So no, we (gen­er­al­ly speak­ing as a cul­ture, specif­i­cal­ly the black Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty which I am famil­iar with) do not know our hair beau­ti­ful.

Rea

Yeah it’s just ignorant/rude peo­ple in gen­er­al. A lot of wom­en have to deal with neg­a­tive atti­tudes from their own fam­i­ly and some­times it’s black peo­ple that are being the worst bul­lies. Some pass along the good hair/bad hair mind set to their kids, which I think is far worse

Lillian Mae

RE: Some pass along the good hair/bad hair mind set to their kids, which I think is far worse

Blacks are the #1 per­pe­tra­tors of the good/bad hair BS. Speak­ing per­son­al­ly, I received my ini­tial mind-set from my moth­er, who when I need­ed a touch up would snear at my new growth. That set the stan­dard in my mind about my hair! It wasn’t until I saw oth­er wom­en with beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral hair that made me curi­ous about what grew out of my scalp. I agree, take this exhibit to the black com­mu­ni­ties as well!

Iris
@Lillian I think both soci­eties per­pet­u­ate this good hair/bad hair but it all stems from his­tor­i­cal atti­tudes. When you look at the pow­er dynam­ics of race in the Unit­ed States it is under­stand­able why there is a hair com­plex in the black com­mu­ni­ty. A lot of blacks wouldn’t have got­ten a job unless their hair was straight. I’ve been told by white co-work­ers curly hair is unpro­fes­sion­al so I cer­tain­ly under­stand the pres­sure to have straight hair. When kids look at who is in pow­er they see most­ly white, straight haired peo­ple. And the few black wom­en who are CEOs… Read more »
merry

@mai

and ursu­la burns is a BLACK WOMAN. you will not mis­take her for being mixed or what­ev­er to make you like her or embrace her more.

and, she didn’t just change her hair when she got into that posi­tion. it’s been like that for years.

the com­pa­ny also has been doing well under her. 

i admire her per­haps more than i do some­one like oprah or michelle oba­ma.

there are inter­views of her post­ed on youtube.

Mai

Iris, I just want to point out that Ursu­la Burns, who is the CEO of Xerox and the only black female who is a CEO in a For­tune 100 com­pa­ny, has a TWA.

TWA4now

We/I need not take it too per­son­al­ly. It is “their” exper­i­ment. I wel­come hair touch­ing from my black and white friends (when they ask)and ques­tions about my nature hair too. Per­haps we wouldn’t have to do this if we wore our real nat­u­ral hair out more. All their hair looks beau­ti­ful. #askbe­forey­outouch­myB­BA

yourekiddingright

But that’s the dif­fer­ence TWA4now… it is your FRIENDS who are touch­ing your hair. Friends who already have a rela­tion­ship with you and appre­ci­ate you for more than your hair. Not STRANGERS on a street cor­ner look­ing to have an expe­ri­ence.

TWA4now

@ yourkidding.…I had strangers touch my hair or ask questions…I wel­come the dia­logue but I am more open to it. Yes, i was a bit werid­ed out a out it but most are just curi­ous 8espe­cial­ly oth­er black folks–most of the men like my hair bet­ter) and it pro­duced some great con­ver­sa­tions vice pop­ping, snap­ping, and cussing folks out. Every­one has a dif­fer­ent com­fort level/personal space com­fort lev­el. HHJ 2 u #HHJ2us!

Sabrina Antoinnette
I agree 100%. If the vast major­i­ty of African Amer­i­can wom­en didn’t chem­i­cal­ly treat or hide their nat­u­ral hair under wigs, weaves, or scorch it to hell reg­u­lar­ly with a flat iron there would undoubt­ed­ly be less curios­i­ty and ques­tions. I love and sup­port this — though some think it is like a “pet­ting zoo” i feel like it is most def­i­nite­ly a social exper­i­ment and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act with those that do have ques­tions bring­ing a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence and asso­ci­a­tion to our nat­u­ral state. I trust those that have opt­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the exper­i­ment most­ly because they… Read more »
Fii
Hon­est­ly, because most black people’s hair is so vast­ly dif­fer­ent than the rest of the world pop­u­la­tion, peo­ple would be curi­ous regard­less of what we did to our hair. It’s the same way peo­ple refer to black peo­ple by neg­a­tive stereo­types despite the fact that major­i­ty of us do not act the way. Adding this sense of blame is unwarranted,black wom­en should be able to do what­ev­er they want with their hair. I remem­ber watch­ing an episode of Oprah once (the talk show) and there was a white wom­an who is nat­u­ral­ly brunet­te but dyes her hair blonde. The way she spoke… Read more »
Naija81

That slav­ery mind­set is for real. The need to jus­ti­fy or explain your unique­ness to oth­er peo­ple in order to gain some type of accep­tance is pathet­ic.

Jonette

Regard­less of what we do with our hair, it will always spark a cer­tain amount of curios­i­ty because it dif­fers from the major­i­ty.
I also agree with the exper­i­ment, it opens the door to allow mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion amongst all .

yourekiddingright

So you’re say­ing it’s OUR fault that there are curios­i­ty and ques­tions???

Why are black wom­en con­cerned about bring­ing “a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence and asso­ci­a­tion to our nat­u­ral state”?

Why is that OUR job to do??

Isn’t that already hap­pen­ing with the many, MANY nat­u­ral wom­en who are mar­ried inter­ra­cial­ly and have lov­ing and sup­port­ive hus­bands??

Why the *$%& do I have to stand on a street cor­ner like an ANIMAL and have STRANGERS touch my hair to help THEM under­stand it???

I swear, the slav­ery mind­set in this coun­try is NOT gone yet…

Kan
OMG — PREACH yourekid­din­gright!! Didn’t know ‘putting our­selves on dis­play and edu­cat­ing peo­ple because they don’t under­stand us’ was part of the Black woman’s guide­book of liv­ing. Gee, I thought we were just sup­posed to live and be human like every­one else. Didn’t know we had the respon­si­bil­i­ty of explain­ing our­selves to oth­ers. And for those say­ing it’s just curi­ousi­ty and we should allow it, I think it’s bad man­ners. Kids go up to one anoth­er and poke each oth­er, not grown adults. It’s MINDBLOWING to me that although our hair is dif­fer­ent from oth­er eth­nic­i­ties, peo­ple don’t get that… Read more »
AC

I kin­da agree with you because it isn’t ALL our fault but … It wasn’t just oth­er races that attend­ed the event so I’m not under­stand­ing this slave men­tal­i­ty you speak of. It is how­ev­er our job to teach our own … Which is also being done by this exhibit, the pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence and asso­ci­a­tion to our nat­u­ral state is nec­es­sary so oth­er wom­en may enjoy their nat­u­ral hair one day too. After all there were many wom­en of col­or present and touch­ing the hair as well, I think this is a good thing.

Sabrina Antoinnette
It is def­i­nite­ly NOT our job to teach any­one about our “nat­u­ral state”, but we all know that fear and hatred stem from igno­rance. 1st step would have to be on them, to have the desire to learn. Just FYI, my hus­band is Nor­we­gian, there­fore he has blue eyes and white skin.  I think if they want to stand on the street and allow oth­ers to touch their hair, more pow­er to them… and regard­less of the curs­ing and back­lash you’ve pro­vid­ed, SOMEONE is (weath­er we are lik­ing it or not) hav­ing a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence. I have def­i­nite­ly cursed out a… Read more »
D.K.
That’s right, because if we don’t step up and edu­cate in some­times rad­i­cal ways, then who will? It IS our job to enlight­en because peo­ple with no african descent will nev­er be taught (or will ignore it) if left up to them­selves. Stig­mas will con­tin­ue if we’re qui­et (how else could we now sit in the front of a bus?). I sup­port this exper­i­ment 100% because the hon­esty (of admit­ting they don’t know), sin­cer­i­ty (of want­i­ng to find out), curios­i­ty (with­out shame) and open-mind­ed­ness of indi­vid­u­als wins out in the end. They are def­i­nite­ly all the bet­ter for it and… Read more »
'Quel

OMG. PREACH ON!!!

Rea
They made a per­son­al choice to do this, even if it’s viewed as a pet­ting zoo. I per­son­al­ly hate when peo­ple play with my hair, It makes my scalp crawl and they might be the per­son that used the com­mode and didn’t wash their hands, etc.  It’s not black peo­ples job to edu­cate igno­rant peo­ple. I wasn’t offend­ed when my teacher ask the black girls in the class how did they take care of their hair, it sparked a dis­cus­sion about black hair diver­si­ty and it edu­cat­ed some peo­ple. Some peo­ple just don’t know how to be respect­ful. I had some­one… Read more »
Crist

yeah no she wuda got socked

'Quel
Girl, I WISH a teacher of mine had asked that ques­tion in school. Cause you know what? I would’ve told them. That’s right, I would’ve been a good sport and walked them through my hair rou­tine. And then, I would’ve said, “Ok, now I have a ques­tion for all you white peo­ple. Why is it that when ya’ll hair get wet, you smell like wet dogs?” And I’m pret­ty sure all jaws would’ve dropped to the floor. How dare peo­ple feel like it’s ok to “touch” or ask to touch a black woman’s hair? This lit­tle “exper­i­ment” is degrad­ing and… Read more »
Fii
I would have been like, but y’all don’t show­er for 3 days at a time and think it’s cool. I know quite a few white peo­ple who admit to not show­er­ing dai­ly. But then every­one wants to come out with this black wom­en don’t wash their hair every day and its nasty. I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out how some white peo­ple wash their hair every­day if they don’t show­er every­day. I feel like things such as wash­ing your hair in the kitchen since sick as opposed to in the show­er is some­thing also cul­tur­al­ly devised. But what­ev­er. Those ladies… Read more »
'Quel

You know what? That’s is so true. It’s a lot of ques­tions that could be posed to them. Like, why do they take shower’s with­out a wash­cloth? Just a damn bar of soap? Come on. I just don’t under­stand how they feel so intrigued by any­one that’s dif­fer­ent from them­selves, like any­one not like them is a freak of nature or some­thing. Want­i­ng to touch my hair to see how it feels? That’s not curi­ousi­ty. That’s freak­in racism and igno­rance.

TWA4now
@ Rea I would’ve loooooved for my teacher to ask me to explain how I take care of my nat­u­ral black hair. I would have tak­en about 25 min­utes plus Q & A ses­sion too. Yes,we do need to edu­cate the igno­rant folks black and white and brown and yel­low about our hair and dis­pel the lies and myths espe­cial­ly in our own black com­mu­ni­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a lot of the “dirty” looks and neg­a­tiv­i­ty is from oth­er black wom­en and some men but most of the men seem to like it more. I can count the num­ber of com­pli­ments I… Read more »
Rea

HHJ To you too! I agree. I just think some peo­ple are too thick to reach when you try to edu­cate them. I think keep­ing dis­cus­sions like this open is healthy. :)

Haduko

This feels Nation­al Geo­graph­ic to me. Or pet­ting zooish like the pre­vi­ous com­men­tor stat­ed. I get what they’re doing but damn it’s so…public!

That being said I do at times allow ppl(who ask)to touch my hair. And yes, I feel like I’m star­ring in an episode of Nat Geo Wild. I have made allowances for admir­ers and the gen­uine­ly curi­ous because despite some feel­ings of weird­ness, I do acknowl­edge the intrigue that is linked with our hair.

Cece Danielle
I per­son­al­ly think it’s the mind­set behind it, when they ask to touch it. This one white guy ran­dom­ly came up to me while I had an afro and said, “omg your hair’s so cool can I touch it? I was like uhh­h­hh­m­mm, no. He made me feel like it was some type of weird, “cool” thing and I felt like I was on dis­play. I didn’t feel good about it at all. Anoth­er white guy I know is gen­uine­ly inter­est­ed, he asks ques­tions all the time, how long does it take to do, how long is it when it’s… Read more »
Ekene
I think I get what you’re say­ing- (espe­cial­ly) a city like New York is rel­a­tive­ly diverse so there should already be some curios­i­ty lead­ing peo­ple to some acknowl­edg­ment that hair of peo­ple of African orig­in is dif­fer­ent. How­ev­er, just a thought– I’m Nige­ri­an, and I live in Nige­ria. Since I went nat­u­ral, I’ve had quite a few peo­ple at ran­dom ask me if they can touch my hair. They touch it, I’ve had 2 or 3 peo­ple pull it to stretch it out with­out ask­ing lol (shrink­age is a mys­tery to them) It can be annoy­ing but they do it.… Read more »
AC

I agree, more Black peo­ple touch my hair with­out ask­ing opposed to oth­er races, actu­al­ly no one of anoth­er race has dared to try that lol..

Cece Danielle

I think this exper­i­ment is great, although I wouldn’t do it per­son­al­ly. I just noticed how most­ly white peo­ple are touch­ing the girl’s hair. I think a lot of white peo­ple are curi­ous about our hair. As long as they’re being respect­ful, I wel­come curios­i­ty.

Lillian Mae

Exact­ly! Black and Non-Black alike are curi­ous!

I don’t have a prob­lem with this and the wom­en who signed up are good sports.

Alisa

I think it sounds and looks degrading…as though the­se wom­en( and oth­er African Amer­i­can wom­en) are ani­mals at a pet­ting zoo. Thanks, but no thanks. I would not do this per­son­al­ly.

Eloisa
It doesn’t just sound degrad­ing, it is. WTH is people’s obses­sion with black people’s hair?! Why was this nec­es­sary? We are not here to sat­is­fy oth­ers’ curios­i­ty about our hair. Let them STAY curi­ous. You actu­al­ly think there would ever be an asian or white exhibit where ran­dom black peo­ple pet them like ani­mals? NO! And touch­ing some ran­dom white or asian woman’s hair sound so nasty to me! It would nev­er even occur to me. Smh @ the peo­ple who think this no big deal. This is dis­gust­ing as hell. Those wom­en should be ashamed of them­selves. But I guess… Read more »
merry

per­son­al­ly, things like this make me feel like black peo­ple will forever be stuck on stu­pid.

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