The Afro Chronicles: Volume Two
The Afro Chronicles is back. Volume Two is inspired by an encounter Leo had with a woman who wanted to touch her hair.
The other evening I was with a few friends in a busy cafe bar when I stood up to buy a drink. As I was waiting in line, I felt a tug on my hair. I turned around, but the place was so busy I just assumed that somebody had nudged me accidentally. That was until I heard my friend’s loud Mancunian accent. ‘You should apologise,’ he said. ‘How would you like it if a stranger touched your hair?’
I turned around again to see my friend staring at a wide-eyed blonde woman. ‘I’m not going to apologise. I didn’t do anything,’ the woman said.
‘Yes, you did. You pulled her hair. You wouldn’t want me to do that to you, so don’t do it to other people,’ my friend said.
‘I was just seeing how it felt,’ the woman said. ‘I won’t apologise.’
“What did she do?” he asked me, and when I explained that she’d touched my hair he said, “is that all?”
At this point I joined the conversation and asked if she could refrain from touching people’s hair at random in the future. The woman got very flustered and said that my friend and I were ganging up on her. Then a nearby gentleman added his two unwanted cents to the conversation. ‘What did she do?’ he asked me, and when I explained that she’d touched my hair, he said, ‘Is that all?’
Now, I don’t know if I’ve been living under a rock or something, but last time I checked, having an uncontrollable urge to touch somebody’s hair is weird. As a society, that’s not something we generally condone. Unless, for some reason, the hair in question is Afro. Then suddenly everyone and their nan wants a feel. I don’t get it; do they not have hair of their own to feel? I mean, really, what are they expecting it to feel like? It’s a request I get all too often.
Not everyone is as rude as the woman in the cafe bar. A week or so after my encounter with her, a Spanish exchange student and her friend caught sight of me in a park. ‘We LOVE your hair,’ she said to me and I thanked her sincerely. She seemed very sweet and I was very flattered, until she asked, ‘Can I touch it?’ Cue the internal screaming. Why can’t people love with their eyes and not their hands? Why does a pleasant compliment from a stranger always seem to end with a request to touch me? I can only assume people just don’t understand why I find it so uncomfortable. For Volume Two of The Afro Chronicles, here’s what’s going on in my head when you ask to touch my hair.
The final instalment of The Afro Chronicles will be coming soon. In the mean time, tweet us your hair tales @rifemag
Want to see more diversity expressed in a unique way? Then follow Unity Youth Forum on twitter @BME_YouthForum. If you’ve been a victim of bullying because of the way you look, Off the Record is a great place to get help and advice.