Teyonah Parris
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards

As someone who’s worn her hair natural since 1994, I can’t count the times people have attempted to dig their fingers into my follicles. I also can’t count the times when I’ve threatened people that they’ll draw back a nub if they attempt to touch my hair without permission. Permission that I’d never give anyone, because this is not a petting zoo.

It seems as though when you have natural hair, people are amazed by its texture and style and lose all common sense when they’re around it. And in this case, by “people,” I mean white people. Also, please, keep your “You’re racist, Yesha” emails to yourself and get a hobby. I’m not racist. I have white friends.

But I digress.

Actress Teyonah Parris, who starred in Dear White People and Mad Men, recently tweeted about an incident in which, clearly, the old white man involved had no tact and is an habitual line-stepper when it comes to personal space.



I’m quite sure my reaction to the situation would have gone something like this:

Here’s the thing.

It is never, ever, ever, ever (did I say “ever”?) OK to touch someone’s hair without permission. We natural-haired women are not Chia Pets at your disposal. We are not a social experiment looking for your approval. And furthermore, if chopping fingers of those guilty of grabbing hair were legal, there’d be a parade of fingers across the country.


You don’t see us going around asking to run our fingers through layers of corn silk or stringy, receding hairlines without permission. Honestly, touching some stranger’s hair is quite gross.

Just stop it. As my grandmother once told me, “Just add a razor blade to your hair. They’ll learn their lesson after that.”

Drawing back nubs.