So, I spend some amount of time on Twitter in my regular life, and something came up today that quite honestly left me appalled. Some white people think it’s entirely acceptable to touch the hair of black women. Not people they know; random strangers.
They just walk up and comment on their hair, and they touch it. They… touch it. With their hands. Without even asking.
I jealously guard my personal space, and the very thought of someone just grabbing at my head fills me with the worst kind of dread. I’d probably assume I was being attacked, and react accordingly (and accept the quick trip to jail for assault afterwards). I just can’t contemplate it. It’s abhorrent.
It raises the question of consent, and ownership of specifically black women’s bodies. The intelligent and highly esteemed black women I follow on Twitter have done amazing work in developing social theory in this area, and all of what I know comes from following them and respectfully listening to everything they have to say. The world views black women’s bodies, especially in America, as public property. There is a level of dehumanization in the assumption that it is acceptable to violate someone’s personal space. It treats black women like exotic animals, whose consent to such an act never even enters the equation.
Finding this out, and hearing stories of different incidents, was horrifying to me today. It still is. It raises a prickling itch between my shoulder blades, and a sense of all-encompassing terror. Such things should not be.
I don’t know if you’re the kind of person who’d walk up to a complete stranger and touch them without their permission, dear reader, but if you are… good grief, what is wrong with you?