Don’t touch my hair
When it’s the feeling I wear
Don’t touch my soul
When it’s the rhythm I know
Opening lines from Solange’s song “Don’t touch my hair”, from her revolutionary album ‘A Seat at the Table’
I remember hearing this song for the first time and having that feeling where your throat closes up and your eyes start to burn. By the time the chorus came, I was singing in almost joyful tears. It was very emotional and still is, to listen to.
She articulated black women’s feelings, all over the world, about their hair so intricately and beautifully.
It never was about just hair was it? And the song goes into that. It’s always been about our identity as black women and owning our space, without having to constantly explain ourselves. Because we always have to explain ourselves. Even in the song.
In a world where black women’s identity is constantly being challenged, this song is a declaration that “It’s actually none of your business! You will never understand and I’m okay with that. Just don’t touch my hair.”
Hair is very sacred in many African cultures. With some babies having their hair cut after a particular period as well as family members also having their hair cut after the burial of a close family member. In the BaSotho culture, a woman’s hair is cut after a ritual to welcome her into the man’s family. This is so she can start afresh and grow new hair with her new identity so to speak.
Hair is very sensitive to us. It is so rooted to who we are as people. The texture, how it grows, how it doesn't grow, how it feels when you feel good, how it feels when you don’t feel good. Someone even attempting to touch it can be exceptionally insensitive and violating. I mean, imagine spending all morning applying your MPL coconut oil and combing your hair into a shape that finally doesn’t look lopsided and then someone touches it and messes with the symmetry. Nah uh!
Our hair is called our crown for a reason, it is literally connected to our crown chakra and figuratively a reminder that we are in actuality royalty. Kings and Queens, wearing our adornment proudly even after being made to believe that it is not beautiful and difficult to maintain and keep.
So yes, we are still super sensitive and will most probably always be. Because we are by nature a sensitive people. And sensitive should never be mistaken for weak but rather as people who display thoughtful and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings. Yet we never seem to get that sensitivity back.
So don’t touch my hair, cos it’s the feelings I wear.