Ever since elementary school, I had to explain to people (not of African descent) about my hair. As a child, other children always wanted to touch it and wondered why it could stick up or out on its own. As a teen, other teenagers wondered how I could keep curls in my head, get it styled differently every other week, or why I didn’t wash my hair every other day. As an adult, apparently, other adults want to know by my hair being braided, is it tight enough to smooth out wrinkles (even though I’m not old enough for wrinkles, but that’s beside the point).
Why is African American hair such a novelty to people? Those of you who are reading this who are not of African descent, please understand two things: a). the one person you are talking to does not speak for their whole culture; b). if you have questions, please carefully formulate them in your head before speaking, because sometimes the comments and/or questions sound very ignorant and immature. Case in point, I had a grown woman ask me the wrinkles question (the one I talked about above) and then her and her friend went on about how Black people’s skin was so beautiful and did eating better than Caucasian people combined with no stress keep our skin looking so good. I was embarrassed for them. Both women are older than me. Both women are educated. And both women are too old to be comfortable enough to voice such foolishness aloud.
My point is this. It is okay to not know something about another person’s culture. Nobody knows every single thing about another person’s culture. And it is okay to ask questions, but it goes back to my point a minute ago… a). the ONE person you are talking to does not and cannot speak for their whole culture; b). formulate those questions and comments in your head first.
Does anyone have a similar story?