Wednesday, July 19, 2006

PSA: Do NOT Touch A Black Woman's Hair EVER!

In the words of my same-name-blog-bud Nichelle, "Black people are not chia pets!" I am stunned that this is still happening in 2006! Barbara Walters pulling and tugging on Brandy's weave and Tanika Ray's hair gave me flashbacks of a certain blonde grand dame pulling on my braids at a cocktail party at Le Cirque several years ago. No freaking clue! I'm sorry, but age doesn't give you a pass. I mean, I see women with $600 Madison Avenue highlights all the time and I would never dream of touching their hair - or their plastic surgery scars! It just isn't done!

For those of you that are still confused, here are a few quick guidelines:

1.) Never grab a black woman's hair at random - especially a stranger. If you see a black woman with a curious hairstyle, ask her about it - but DO NOT TOUCH HER HAIR. Black people have all kinds of hair textures, colors and styles. Believe it or not, some black women even have long hair that's real! You're not supposed to be able to tell all the time.

2.) You may ask a black woman if her hair is real if you dare - but DO NOT TOUCH HER HAIR! Even if said woman is an employee or a potential employee. Even if you are a broadcasting legend.

3.) You may ask questions about hair care but do not go over the stupid line and ask, "Can you shampoo it?" Also, DO NOT TOUCH HER HAIR!

3.) You may ask a black child about her braids, twists, locs or curls. But, DO NOT TOUCH HER HAIR!

4. If you see a black man with a curious hairstyle, DON'T TOUCH HIS HAIR EITHER! And definitely NEVER, EVER RUB HIS HEAD!

Got it? Good!

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Blogger Rune said...

Can I touch your hair?


July 19, 2006 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hell naw!

July 19, 2006 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

I moved to Columbus Ohio from New Orleans Louisiana - can you say culture shock! I'm often the only black person in the office, at parties, at the movies, every damn where. My hair is naturally curly, and I wear loose and wild. Well, "they" have on more than one occasion reached out and touched my hair.

July 20, 2006 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

nichelle - I've been visiting your blog for a while now and I like love it.I'd like to talk with you about writing/contributing some pieces to a new site I'm working on. I can be reached at if you're interested. Thanks

July 20, 2006 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Ugh... don't you hate that Angie! It's only happened to me twice - and only because I was caught off guard! I think it's really, incredibly rude.

As for the writing offer, thank you so much for thinking of me, but girl, my hands are full! I've got two blogs, a book to finish and another book to get back to after that. That's where my focus is so I doubt I'll be contributing anywhere unless Oprah magazine comes a calling or something!

But thanks again - and good luck with your site! Let me know when it's up.

July 20, 2006 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Sangindiva said...

Hey Ms. Nichelle!!

This post was SPOT ON!!!


I soooo feel you- babs was way wrong for that!!

July 20, 2006 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Excellent post, Nichelle. We must continue to bring awareness to this issue in order to prevent needless eye-rolling.

The other Nichelle

July 24, 2006 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Avin said...

I've tought my son to duck or juke if someone tries to touch his hair. I instinctivly do the same thing especially if I see that "wild eyed" look they get. You might get cut, true story.

July 25, 2006 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

LOL Avin! I have seen that "wild-eyed" look.


That's why I put this up - truly as a public service announcement. I'm sure someone out there read it and thought, "Gee, they find that offensive????"

July 25, 2006 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger The Budget Fashionista said...

In the immortal words of Whitney Houston- Hell to the Nah!

I thought I was the only one appauled by this. Then for Joy to be like (in comparing her hair to the guest hosts hair) "looks like this in the morning".

Oh no..

July 25, 2006 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hey there Budget Fashionista - hell to the naw indeed!

July 26, 2006 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger ronn said...

Hell nah!! I will kick a muvaflower in the shins if they touch my hair.

Happened once when I was just growing my locs. She surprised me, but not as much as I surprised her by pulling her hair and yelling, "You like that?! D'int think so!!"

(OK, probably not with that much attitude)

July 26, 2006 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hahaha Ronn!

If someone tries it again - I'm grabbing and pulling. Hard!

July 27, 2006 at 1:58 AM  
Blogger Salimah El-Amin said...

God Bless you, Nichelle. I have been suffering all my life with people touching my hair. I just wanna say "Back TFU!"

That's the #1 no no, followed up by "No, where's your family from originally?" And I'm forced to answer, "We were slaves, fool!"

Apologize for my bitterness ;)

July 29, 2006 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger tAnYeTTa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 30, 2006 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger tAnYeTTa said...

I loved this post! Funny and oh so true!

#3 can also be read as 'HIS' braids.
I get really annoyed with questions like: How do you get him to sit still to braid it. You need to cut his hair, blah blah.......

DO NOT TOUCH A blackwomans child's or give unsolicted advice about his hair either!!!! LOL

I loved this post. Sure wish I read it before I cussed family out for talking smack about my baby's hair!!!

p.s. I'm here from: sangindiva--great blog and your 'baby' is cool stuff to read about too. ;)

July 30, 2006 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Salimah - no need to apologize! Thanks for stopping by.

Tanyetta - Thanks for your nice comments. I saw your blog earlier from Sangin Diva's - what a little cutie you have!

My sister didn't cut either of her sons' hair until they were a year old. I have to admit that I was one of the people that kept saying, "Why don't you cut that boy's head?!" Hahaha!

July 30, 2006 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger James Burnett said...

Good post. I finally cut my short braids to a brushing-length 'do at my last job, 'cause I got sick of "people" asking if they could touch it or just taking it upon themselves to reach out and do so.

August 2, 2006 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hey James,

Thanks for stopping by. If you ever decide to grow your hair back and someone decides to touch it, just grab their fingers and SNAP!

August 2, 2006 at 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is effing crazy. Damn. Those women have some serious poise not to just reach back and grab Baba's nose and make honking noises.
Thanks for the video!

August 4, 2006 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's right up there with people assuming that just because a woman is pregnant, they have a right to touch her belly! HELLO? What would happen if random people walked up and touched your UNpregnant belly? Wouldn't you feel assaulted?

This post blew my mind because it would never occur to me to touch the hair of anyone who wasn't an intimate person in my life/family. Bee. Czar.

August 4, 2006 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Anonymous @7:22 - Yes, I agree. Serious poise (Brandy.) I think Tanika Ray was just stunned.

Anonymous @8:35 - Interesting that you would say that. I always thought that was another big violation - touching a pregnant woman's belly. I do declare that when I get pregnant, I will be swatting hands away!

August 4, 2006 at 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nichelle -
That video is nuts. I have a question for you, from the bottom of my pure white ignorance. Obviously BW is way outside the bounds of acceptable behavior, patting and pulling another adult's hair without asking. And if this happens often to black folks, as everyone above says, that is horrible and totally weird! Ack! So: clearly this is this bad because it's
(a) bizarre and invasive in a way that would be inappropriate for any adult to do to another adult, and

(b) extra offensive with its condescending "you're a doll for me to play with, pretty black lady" overtone. (And if lots of white people do this to black women, WTF?!?!?!?!)

But is it also:
(c) bad because it's likely to mess up the hair in a way that can't easily be fixed? That is, is this an additional reason not to touch a black woman's hair (EVER), or is it just because it is insanely obnoxious to touch a grown woman's hair?

(I got here from; you were linked in a comment thread.)

August 5, 2006 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hi Sandra,

Yes, I saw the link from Bitch Ph.D - I got a lot of hits from that innocent little link!

You used the right words - bizarre and invasive. I know that I definitely got the condescending "you're a doll for me to play with, pretty black lady" vibe. It's truly surreal.

AND... you also hit the nail on the head with "But is it also:
(c) bad because it's likely to mess up the hair in a way that can't easily be fixed?"

Exactly! Black hair - 99.8% of the time does NOT fall back into place! It doesn't bounce. It doesn't behave. It just IS.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Glad to see that some folks "get it."

Tell a friend!

August 5, 2006 at 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Nichelle!

August 8, 2006 at 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Wanda said...

I came upon your blog quite by accident and I love it!I have to admit I never saw that video before because I hate "The View"(even when Star was on it). But Babs is off the chain. Maybe she's the reason I never got into that show...hmmm.

August 15, 2006 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Nichelle said...

Hi Wanda - thanks for stopping by.

I don't think we'll be missing much when The View is off the air...

August 16, 2006 at 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, wow, people just reach out and fuck with your HAIR?

I'm a white woman and I'm sitting here gobsmacked that people would be that presumptuous to do something like that.

Good God. There should be rules. No touching pregnant bellies, unless explicitly ASKED TO. And no touching anyone's hair except your own, your child's and your lover's. Period. Unless you are a hairstylist. LOL.

August 22, 2006 at 10:01 PM  
Anonymous Angel said...

I am white, and I was apalled by the video. I would never dream of being so invasive. But I have to say much of it comes from curiosity. My very white daughter has very long beautiful hair and the black children on the bus simply won't leave HER hair alone! I think we're all so curious about something that's not like ours and something we don't know anything about firsthand. For that reason I have asked questions of African Americans I have come to know and love...but never a stranger! That would be rude in any culture! I'm sorry some white people are so ignorant. You have my empathies. I will do what I can to inform my white sisters to leave my black sisters locks alone. :) This website has been very helpful to me.

December 20, 2006 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger tAnYeTTa said...

You know I had to come back and watch this again. I just posted about it. LOL

May 5, 2008 at 2:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a women of mixed race and have always worn my hair long. A white friend of mine has taken it upon herself to give me advice (I've told her on several occasions not to) on what I should do with my hair. "Why don't you scrunch it up to make it curly?" "You should cut it." You should glue a weave or why not put beads in it?" At this point I told her if I put beads in it I could damage it and I don't feel the need to weave it.
Is this stero type or is she just clueless? I like my hair just the way it is. What's up with this women's need to give me unsolited advice? Thanks,

August 31, 2008 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

You said it! I'm not Black, I'm Arab(Yemeni)-American w/ some righteous dense curls that folks have been TOUCHING W/ NO DAMN INVITATION all my life! (I'm 42)

I will say, tho, I am dating a white man right now who LOVES my hair and asked me to teach him how to brush/comb it for him, which he does lovingly & w/ respect. (See, OTOH, previous lovers SELDOM touched it--were they afraid of it??)

PS This is the first time I've seen your blog, loved the piece on Ms. Obama. Good writing shines.

November 7, 2008 at 1:37 PM  

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