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Gerrie Summers

Is It OK to Reach Out and Touch a Black Woman’s Hair?

By July 26, 2011

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DreadlocksMaybe some folks misunderstood what Diana Ross was singing about. She said reach out and touch somebody's hand--not hair.

Last month I was in an elevator in Macau when unbeknownst to me a Chinese man reached out and picked up one of my dreadlocks, felt it, stared at it, and then let it go. When another journalist told me about it, I brushed it off. I'm used to people in other countries staring at my dreadlocks and I've had people in this country ask to touch my hair, but at least I knew them.

Apparently it's not unusual for strangers to touch black women's hair like it's fur on an exotic animal. In a CNN article, "Can I Touch It?" The Fascination With Natural, African-American Hair written by Lisa Respers France, black women recall their experiences with strangers touching or even, as that gentleman did to me, actually grabbing their hair.

Have you had this experience? Del Sandeen, our Black Hair Guide is interested in hearing your thoughts. Read How "Touchy" Are You? and leave your comment, and while you're there check out the informative articles about black hair care.


Should a stranger reach out and touch my hair? /Photo: Lillian Summers

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