UPDATE- 7/27/2011

Dr. Phoenyx writes;

Hello ladies! Phoenyx here again- and I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up a few misconceptions from yesterday’s post. First off, I wanted to state that the entire intention behind yesterday’s post was to share my perspective on natural hair- and as always, to offers words of empowerment to my fellow ladies. Never did I intend to suggest that we Black women should ever subject ourselves to unwanted physical contact or allow others to violate our personal boundaries. I love my fellow ladies- and it has always been my mission to empower us in all that I do.

Unfortunately I wrote yesterday’s article after reading an article on CNN that, for whatever reason, omitted all the facts surrounding the incident that transpired between Liz (Los Angelista) and the White woman that requested to touch her hair. Had I known the full story, I would have definitely taken the opportunity to advocate Liz’s position, while also expressing my perspective. I do stand behind my experience (with other women wanting to touch my hair). But I also recognize that Liz’s experience was very much a negative and racist one- and she is quite validated in her feelings.

I have been on the receiving end of misquotes and attempts to sensationalize my words- and it is a very frustrating and even upsetting position to be in. So I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify my position, as well as to apologize for not thoroughly researching the incident more before commenting. I take full responsibility for not digging more into the story before reissuing the quotes that were published on CNN. Furthermore, I have experienced racism. And I do empathize with Liz- and any other Black woman that has had similar experiences. I want my fellow ladies to know that it has always been my mission to encourage and support us in all that I do. And I would never willfully participate in any behavior that undermines my character and mission.

Thank you for reading- and I hope you all have a blessed day.


by Dr. Phoenyx via drphoenyx.com

Hola chicas! It’s Dr. Phoenyx and today I’d like to talk about yesterday’s interesting CNN article on the “fascination with natural, African American hair.” In the article, several natural haired women talked about their experiences with women (i.e. White women) wanting to touch their hair- sometimes even without permission. The article also highlighted a provocative 2008 blog post by Renee Martin titled “Can I Touch Your Hair? Black Women and The Petting Zoo.”

In that post, Martin talked about how a White woman asking to touch a natural woman’s hair is not simply about curiosity. She actually thinks it’s about slavery. Here is a quote from Martin:

“I think it’s the idea that they have the right to possess black women and they will take any excuse they can to jump over the border, whether it’s policing our behavior or policing our hair. I think it’s about ownership of black bodies more than it has to actually do with hair.”

Now personally speaking, I get approached by women all the time (black and non-black) that want to touch my hair. And quite frankly, I’ve never been offended- even when one tries to sneak in a touch. I’m quite proud of my natural tresses, and I also recognize that natural hair is not the “norm.” So I just questions like “can I touch your hair” as an opportunity to showcase the beauty of our natural hair. I also use it as an opportunity to educate. I guess I’m just a bit more “relaxed” (no pun intended) when it comes to my hair. Or maybe it’s also a cultural thing. In my family’s culture (I’m Panamanian), the concept of “personal space’ is definitely a lot less restrictive than American culture. And assuming that a stranger/acquaintance doesn’t have ill intentions, acts of adoration like a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and even touching my hair, are not seen as intrusive or a violation of my personal space.

Now as far as the “fascination” with natural hair, I have to also say that I’m not all that surprised. Are you? Think about it- for years we black women, en masse, have chosen to wear our hair relaxed. We’ve also chosen to wear wigs and weave that hide our natural hair texture. It’s so pervasive that many of us (as well as other races) have never even seen the real texture of our hair. Now contrary to what we’d like to think, many non-black women know that the majority of us are not wearing our hair in its natural state. They know that we are doing “something” to our hair. They can look at our roots versus the ends of our hair and see a difference. But this is the “norm” that we Black women have created. So it shouldn’t be all that shocking when they (i.e. non-black women) are “fascinated” when they see a head of hair that’s fluffy, curly, kinky and definitely out of the “norm.”

Now I’m not by any means suggesting that Black women should be treated like exhibits at the “petting zoo.” And I can understand being offended if a woman (or man) touches your hair without permission. But to say that a White woman simply wanting to touch our natural hair is about “ownership” rather than plain “curiosity” just seems a bit extreme to me. Oftentimes I sincerely believe it’s just that they are simply in awe (and yes, even envy) of the beauty of our natural hair. That’s just my opinion. But I don’t know- maybe I’m just too confident for my own good- *wink*

So what do you think?

Are you annoyed when a woman (particularly of another race) wants to touch your hair? Has a woman ever touched your hair without permission? Did you get upset? Why do you think there’s a “fascination” with natural hair? Share your thoughts!

If you’d like to send a comment/question to Dr. Phoenyx, you can find her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. A lifestyle writer, media personality, physician, and woman’s woman- Dr. Phoenyx loves sharing her thoughts on topics of sex, style, and soul.

CurlyNikki says;

The Natural Art Maven also had a reaction to the CNN article. See below;

I know being petted has been talked about before, but I just wanted to send you this article that was posted on CNN yesterday. My father sent me the link because he thought it was interesting. I feel that the blogger, Los Angelista, was being a bit extreme with the whole bit on white women seeing us as their property. I really think it is just a natural curiosity and fascination with something that is different. So far, since I have been natural (all of 7 months), the times that I have been touched and petted, were by black people. Most of my compliments come from non-blacks, but so far, none of them have reached out unexpectedly to touch me. When it happens unexpectedly, it’s off putting to me, but I don’t mind if someone asks first.

How do the CurlyNikki readers feel? Was Los Angelista being extreme? Do you find that black people want to touch you more than non-blacks?