Black Female Student: ‘Don’t F-cking Ask Me if My Hair is Real’ (#nyc12)

A new commentary in the always-interesting McGill Daily at Canada’s McGill University caught my eye over the weekend.  The piece addresses the perception issues black female students (and non-students) face in respect to their hair.  According to writer Christiana Collison, a societal disbelief exists that a nice hairdo on a black woman could be genuine.

In her words, “[Q]uestions that inquire about the biological validity of one’s hair are extremely gendered and racialized. That is to say, non-black women and both black and non-black men are never asked the question, ‘Is your hair real?’ and, thus, are never asked to validate the natural ‘ownership’ of their hair. The sheer thought of me posing this question to a non-black female or any man, for that matter, had my date in tears of laughter at its supposed absurdity, despite the fact that men and non-black women can and often do wear extensions, hairpieces, toupes, and wigs.  But yet, the ease at which women and men alike, both black and non-black, stop me on the street, in subway cars, and at my job (at almost every shift) to ask if me if my hair is real is quite astounding. It is telling of the many ways black women are constantly asked to account for their aesthetic being.”

As Collison states boldly in response to the question, in the sub-headline: “Don’t f-cking ask me if my hair is real.”

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