Today marks the 4 month anniversary of starting at my current job, it is also 4 months since an unsolicited white person has put their hands in my hair. At the last company I worked at, I was never sure when some white person’s hands would find their way into my hair- a lot of them would do it from the back denying me an opportunity to matrix out of the way. To them, it was innocent curiosity, to me it was an act of violence. My hair is personal to me, intimate in a way I cannot describe and to have had innumerable people touch it, tug it and comment “oh my god, it’s so soft” (every time) is a violation so difficult to articulate with mere words. After a year and a half of unwelcome fingers in my tresses, to have a 4 month respite is welcome. The celebration of this momentous occasion was underscored by the release of Solange’s video “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
Far from Idia Arie’s I Am Not Hair and even further from an angry anthem, Don’t Touch My Hair is a visual masterpiece whose lyrics simply, melodically declare that as black women our hair is an extension of our feelings and our souls that are not to be touched. Throughout the video, directed by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson, it is made clear that you are not to touch hair belonging to black men or women no matter what style it’s in. This sets a stark contrast to Arie’s 2006 song. A decade later a different call is ringing out from black people to the world that we are indeed our skin, our hair, our features and to separate us from these signifiers of our race is to deny us pride in what makes us different and unique.
A Seat At The Table is a seminal album that as a body of work will surely carry me into the new year. I’m not good with music. I find it difficult to get into new music because it’s unfamiliar; I don’t like new things. I will listen to the same song over and over again without getting bored because I trust it and I don’t want to be let down. I was reluctant to listen to Solange’s new offering- social media hype is a hell of a thing, often the material does not live up to the excitement. However it was almost impossible to ignore the almost deafening cry from all my black girl friends that Solange had come to bless us. I suffer from major FOMO (fear of missing out for those of us who struggle with acronyms) and I didn’t want to miss out on a blessing and my God was it an anointing! Solange delivered a stellar collection of songs I didn’t know I needed.
I burst into tears watching the Don’t Touch My Hair video on the bus home tonight. It might seem funny to others that I count the days it’s been since someone touched my hair because to them our hair is just hair. But to black people, especially black women, who do not have the protection of maleness to prevent the entitlement of those whose hands slide into our curls, it is as Solange says- our crown, our soul. This is not to say that black men do not have their hair touched but to highlight that our gender coupled with societal patriarchy and misogyny disallows women from a certain level of safety.Both the Cranes In The Sky and DTMH videos are stunningly exquisite protests defining the validity of blackness in all its forms.
My children will look back at this time in history astounded by how necessary and timely this album and its videos are, perplexed by how in this millennium autonomy and the basic privilege of not having strangers believe it is their right to touch black people’s hair still is not afforded us. It is a glorious time to be black- a time where there is a seat at the table. Should we arrive and a not be made available to us, we will build it ourselves and partake in the feast.
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PS. This is my last post for a short while. I have been using this blog as a legitimate form of procrastination from writing my screenplays. I will be back once I have achieved my latest goal. x