Stop Touching Her Hair, White People!



Panel 1
There are two women in this panel, a white woman and a black woman. Both are smiling.

White woman: Your hair is so beautiful! Can I touch it?
Black woman: Thanks, but no.

Panel 2
This panel shows a different white woman, and the same black woman. The white woman is smiling, but the Black woman’s expression is now a little wary, and her arms are crossed.

White woman 2: How do you wash your hair? Does it smell? Can I touch it?
Black woman: I’d rather you didn’t.

Panel 3
A white man now appears, along with the same Black woman. He is smiling and reaching for her head; she is jerking back, holding up her hands protectively.

White man: What does that stuff feel like?
Black woman: Hey! Hands off, please.

Panel 4
A third white woman is in this panel, along with the same Black woman. The white woman is reaching out for the Black woman; the Black woman is yelling in frustration.

White woman 3: May I touch your-
Black woman: NOT A PETTING ZOO!

Panel 5
The Black woman has stormed off, leaving white woman 3 alone in the panel. She looks surprised, looking in the direction that the Black woman left.

Panel 6
White woman 3 now looks annoyed.

White woman 3 (thought): Why are black people so touchy?

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, Race, racism and related issues, Racism. Bookmark the permalink. 

9 Responses to Stop Touching Her Hair, White People!

  1. 1
    JutGory says:

    Amp, I think you just broke Petar’s machine. :P

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    This is a thing? I can’t imagine asking ANYONE if I could touch their hair unless I was a close personal friend.

  3. 3
    Ruchama says:

    I know several black women who’ve complained about people coming up to them and touching their hair without asking. (It does also happen to women of other races, but it seems to happen a whole lot more with black women.) (People with curly hair will complain about it a whole lot more, though, because if someone runs their fingers through curly hair, like making their hand into a comb, that will instantly turn a perfect head of curls into a giant ball of frizz, and that can’t be fixed until it’s washed again. In addition to the creepy violation of privacy, there could very well also be a layer of “You just ruined the hair style that I spent $100 to get.”)

  4. 4
    Ben Lehman says:

    It’s a thing that happens to curly haired people a lot, particularly black women.

    (it happened to me as a kid a lot, now less often, but still annoying.)

  5. 5
    Kai Jones says:

    It also happens to pregnant women-people want to touch our bellies.

  6. 6
    lauren says:

    While thereare a lot of differet instances of people regularly disrespecting others bodily autonomy (and sexism playsahuge role in the uninvited touching of pregnant people), the (veryoften reported)phenomenon of white people touching black womens hair is seperate issue deeply drenched in racism, exotism and disrespect specifically of black women. Discussing the cartoon without dealing with that realityseems to be drifting away from the real issue here.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    lauren, the first part of your sentence claims that there are numerous instances of people violating other people’s bodily autonomy. Given that, on what basis do you conclude that there are specific issues regarding people doing so to black women’s hair? Why would it not be for the same reasons that people do it to others?

  8. 8
    Radfem says:

    Because maybe it’s not possible to have a discussion about something that’s specifically invasive, offensive and disrespectful to black women without bringing in women of other races and even men (who might also have curly hair) into it as comparative?

    Touching hair is also far from the only disrespect and violation of black women’s boundaries and of their bodies. That’s been going on for hundreds of years. Maybe one reason why white men and women today might feel it’s not only their entitlement to touch black women’s hair but also to feel that the woman should take it as a compliment not as a violation of space and body. To me, the last frame of the cartoon speaks to that.

  9. 9
    Ruchama says:

    Yeah, as a curly-haired white person, my experience is similar to Ben’s — people used to touch my hair a lot when I was a kid, but it happens a lot less as an adult. Possibly because people respect my space as an adult a lot more than they did when I was a kid. (Nobody picks me up without asking first anymore, either, even though I’m still small enough that plenty of people could.) But lots of my black friends say that the hair-touching is something that still happens to them on a regular basis.