Do(n't) Touch My Hair: My Hair Is My Identity

Do(n't) Touch My Hair: My Hair Is My Identity

A letter from a black girl attending a PWI.

I am a young, African-American college student who attends a predominantly white institution (PWI). I do not feel shame or embarrassment. Rather, I am proud.

I love who I am, and Black History Month is a reminder of that. I do, however, sometimes feel like I don't belong, simply because I am one of very limited number of blacks on campus. Then, I also feel like I do belong because us blacks depend on each other and stick together since there are so few of us on campus.

Hair is an attribute of our blackness that makes us unique and beautiful. Our curls, our hair textures, our kinks, our edges and even the hair products we use are different. No, we do not wash our hair every day. No, every black person does not wear weave or extensions. Yes, black people can have silky, thick hair. Yes, our hair can be long. I have been asked all of these because I go to a PWI. Yes, it is annoying at times, but I would rather people ask me than assume.

Solange Knowles has a beautiful song titled "Don't touch my hair" on her most recent album. Some of her lyrics summarize what I go through as a young, black woman each and every day. [Verse 1: Solange]

Don't touch my hair

When it's the feelings I wear

Don't touch my soul

When it's the rhythm I know

Don't touch my crown

They say the vision I've found

Don't touch what's there

When it's the feelings I wear

Solange says that our hair is our crown. No one touches or messes with our crown except for us or who we allow to touch it. For black people, and black women in particular, asking to touch a black person's hair is rooted in the same ideology that treats black as ‘other’ or worse—as lesser. We should take pride in our prized possession, our hair, because it is special and is a gift from God.

We all have crowns, but we just all choose to wear them differently. How do you wear yours?

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