Just imagine someone walking up to you…and touching you…without your permission. **Can someone say “STRANGER DANGER?!”** This has happened to me on several occasions and each time I have to take a breath and decide how I will proceed.
Step 1 — Mood: I admit the foundation on how I will proceed with this encounter is entirely dependent on my mood. I have a millisecond to decide if I want to take this moment to educate people on the proper etiquette of personal space or look at them like they are crazy and call them out on their rudeness. If it’s been a long, arduous day…it is not looking good for you.
Step 2 — The assailant’s intentions: There are some people who mean well but due to their lack of exposure in the world, stumble like a toddler learning to walk. Others are rude and they know it. The former are more likely to be receptive to constructive criticism, and it’s easier for me to have empathy. The latter are more likely to be insulted because you are insulted for having your personal space violated. *insert side eye*
Step 3 — Aggressive scale: Pretty straightforward. Did the assailants timidly reach out and pat your hair as if you’re a poodle, or did they grasp a tendril or fistful of kinks and yank it as if they are testing to see if you’re wearing a wig? With the former, I’m more likely to watch you as you’re reaching toward me, and believe me I’m looking at your facial expression. I might see genuine childlike curiosity, but then again I might see hateful malice. The latter will result in a reflex counter punch. *Not apologetic*
Step 4 — Verbal comments: After you assault me, your words can be the nail in the coffin or your lifesaver. You could say something like, “It’s so beautiful” and mean it! I’ll still look at you crazy, but then I’ll agree with you (because my hair IS beautiful) and I’ll give you a pass. Do not say, “How do you comb it?” or “Wow it’s softer than what I thought” or “OMG, it looks like a brillo pad.” Guess what? These are offensive and you’re implying that my hair must be dirty because YOU have no idea how to manage it. That’s why I have #BlackGirlMagic and you don’t. Besides, I don’t think you would like it if I asked if you have lice or commented that your hair resembles limp and oily spaghetti. *woo-sah*