This week was full—I was stretched beyond measure in every way possible. I was writing all week, had rehearsal on (last) Thursday, performed on Saturday and got on the road on Sunday with my son and mom headed to Tampa for a few days. I also had a major deadline on Monday for my dissertation work. After writing all day, I submitted my paper at 3:30 am that morning and was up and ready for the day with my son and my mom for our Spring adventure(s). We went to the Aquarium and had an amazing time. It was “a first” for all of us. The day was full of laughs, amazement, and movement. I was running on fumes but watching him skip and jump around was the perfect refueling I needed. I knew that I had to show up and be present for him. I caught my second wind as I walked through each exhibit that was home to some of the most beautiful and exquisite underwater life. I thought about how the tanks would make amazing backdrops for site specific works and how the illumination from the fish and coral would add to the fierce lighting of maestro Apon Nichols. I was already in production mode! After we completed the self-lead tour, we went in the souvenir shop to commemorate our experience with a t-shirt followed by getting our picture printed that was taken at the entrance.
With burning eyes, I did my thing. The next stop was shopping at the outlet mall. As we entered the shopping area this yt woman walked towards me as she complimented my hair; while she asked me if it was all mine (while all in my personal space), proceeded to wrap my 58-inch blonde micro braids/twists around her wrists like she was about to lasso a friggin’ hog. I had an outer body experience. I was in shock at first. I was like what the eff is happening here? I mean, my God, we hear about these stories all the time from Black women and women of color and even children who have experienced this racist behavior. I snapped out of that “think fog” real quick and “yuck my hair” (Bahamian slang) out her friggin’ hand and said NO! As I analyze this egregious infraction by this woman who clearly should have asked me about my CaribFunk body and how she could get one, (intent implied), but instead she chose to walk in the line of her ancestors, the ones who have no boundaries, believe that they have carte blanche to do whatever they feel like to Black bodies, and operate in white privilege. How many times do you have to be told to keep your god damn frowsy hands to yourself? I don’t know what stinkin’ food, body part, or crustation you touched before you touched my crown. How dare you! Clearly when she saw me, she thought I was her Black beauty, toy, stallion, or any other exotic item that she believed she was well within her right to assault, accost, and violate. I was offended. This is a MICRO AGGRESSION!! Had I cussed her a$$ out, then that would have been another issue. I would say go and read about Black women and why they don’t want their hair touched, how this is a micro aggression (I’m sure she has no idea what that means), and how she and most yt women who engage in this practice are operating in “privilege and power” but hey all the books and articles are banned in this state. THIS IS WHY WE NEED BLACK HISTORY TAUGHT AND DISCUSSED ALL OVAHHHH! The muther effin’ nerve…PERIODTTT!!
Anyway, this experience didn’t disrupt the remainder of my trip or mood, it (again) serves as commentary for my writing…
“The [B]lack body, including skin color and hair texture, has served as markers of Otherness separating Black people from people of other racial groups. Because of this, the [B]lack body especially that of the female, is frequently subjected to the interrogation by non-[B]lack people.” (Collier 2021, 1)
Collier, Zakiya. 2021. “Don’t Touch My Hair”: An Examination of the Exercise of Privilege and Power Through Interracial Hair-Centered Communication Interactions,” Proceedings of the New York State Communication Association, Vol. 2017 (11).