As a mother of 2 children with afros I can see the fascination of such beautiful hair. I also see the frustration on my sons face every time a stranger would try touch it.
When he was a baby he would just get comments from a far, as most knew the boundaries of touching a strangers child, but as he grew so did the belief that they had entitlement to approach us and pat his hair.
Sometimes before I’d even get chance to politely bat their had away they would be squeezing his curls like a stress ball. As a parent the rage inside is like no other!
Once he reached school it got worse, probably because his afro was bigger and it had the most incredible corkscrew curls and shine. It drew unwanted lunges to “have a feel” like a moth to a flame. It wasn’t just elders, it was children too. He would often come back from school upset at people grabbing his hair during class.
We made a complaint and thankfully children were reminded not to grab each others hair. It hasn’t happened since.
Wish I could say the same for adults. Whether they’re being polite or not, it’s not acceptable to touch someones child. Period. We now know exactly when someone is about to lean in so if Andre hasn’t army rolled out the way by then we intervene with “please don’t touch his hair”
Does it take people back? well yes, they sometimes get offended but imagine I approached a bald man and rubbed his head commenting “but it’s really smooth” odd right? I don’t know him, he hasn’t given me permission and to be frank it’s rude.
There’s no issue with making a lovely comment but physical contact is a whole other ball game. I’m half tempted to ruffle the persons hair next time they try and see how they like it.
I can guarantee they wouldn’t.
To get his point of view, I asked Andre to write down his feelings below –
Hello my name is André and I’m 9 years old. Ever since I can remember people have always touched my hair, in supermarkets and school.It’s very annoying, especially in school, people think that because it’s cool and different to theirs, that it is ok to touch it. They would often stroke my head and say ,”It feels like a cloud.” I understand that they’re being nice but it felt quite irritating. The worst is when shopping with my mum and dad, old people come over quickly to fluff it up and say your hair is lovely. Personally I didn’t like it because I wanted to do some shopping with my family.
Our hair is our property. Please don’t touch.
Put perfectly, the hair is that persons property so please don’t touch.