“Don’t touch my hair” is more than a Solange song. It’s a collective sentiment shared by many Black women who have found their tresses intertwined in the fingers of individuals typically of European descent who are captivated by their curls and lack the social graces to look but not touch. But not all white people fascinated with our locks deserve to be painted with the same brush, says one blogger who stresses intention is more important than the action.
Cynthia Andrew, creator of SimplyCyn, recently reposted a photo of hers from two years ago that captured a moment she had in Italy when a man and a woman passing by on the street engaged her about her hair. Andrew recalled to Yahoo! Beauty:
“I can’t recall who spotted who first, but there was a group of two elderly couples, they looked over at us and smiled. Then, one of the women walked towards me in what I think was amazement — just big eyes. She touched her own hair while looking at mine and said, ‘Bellissima‘ [meaning “gorgeous” in English], and came closer, looking me in the eye as if she was checking to make sure it was OK. I smiled right back, and funny enough, I don’t recall what other words that were exchanged, if any.”
Photos of the moment were captured and Andrew posted them on her Instagram account. The images have routinely been shared, mostly with negative reactions, which is why the blogger decided to repost the images again yesterday, providing context and a warning against condemning all white people for their interest in our hair.
“I wanted to reshare this photo taken 2years ago in Italy because it’s been reposted and shared over the past few without context and I thought I should put it in context- especially as I am not the only one in this image,” she wrote. “You see, unbeknownst to me, many times when this image has been shared- it has been shared with negative connotations and implications- assumptions that this couple is doing something horrible, that they are treating me as an animal in a zoo, some even questioning my sanity for letting them “pet” me 😂- and this was so far from any of that. This lovely couple ‘s only fault is that they were unaware that their gesture is one that stirs up so many real and justified feelings of objectivity, judgment and dehumanization for many black women. But I think here is where intent is important and here is where we have to be careful about who we condemn. There are so many people deserving of condemnation and you’ve seen them very clearly over the last few and I don’t just mean past few days. This couple does not belong in that class- they were kind, they were complimentary- and Yes, I would rather someone reach out in curiosity than with hate. We can continue to educate our non black friends why this gesture carries more weight than they realize- but we should be careful not to vilify people so quickly- we should reserve that energy for those who are much more deserving of it- there’s quite a few of them out there showing their faces. #tbt#love#life#beauty❤️💛💚💙💜🖤#lovewins“
Asked how she feels about the debate her photo has reignited, Andrew told Yahoo, “I appreciate the dialogue and perspectives I didn’t consider. However, I do draw the lines at generalizations about groups of people and attacks….I just think we need more images and conversations about how we walk through this world together,” shares Andrew. “That’s how we get better. It’s not about seeking validation or admiration. It’s just that as an American, an African, a black woman, a child of the world, who has seen beauty in every shade, race, and culture, I want people to see a beautiful moment between two strangers and to remember that most of us — the majority of us — are good, kind people.”
What do you think about her perspective?