I think there exists a true historical aspect to why this is so sensitive a subject. The very real aspect is the slavery issue where black people were put on display before being sold. Teeth were examined, musculature too. And if you’re not familar with Sarah Baartman, you should be, as her story is intriguing and sad.
Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus, was a freak show display in Great Britain in the 1800’s because her large cheeks and elongated labia were intriguing to the white men who paid thousands of dollars to watch her walk around a small cage. Even after her death, she was still a major attraction. Her remains were included in a French museum for white men, and black to goggle and admire.
Now, I don’t think having an event where people can come and touch your hair is akin to Sarah’s life of degradation at all. In, fact, they are not similar at all in my humble opinion. She was put in a cage, bought and sold and then after she died, further humiliated by having her publicly displayed again and again. Seen as an oddity, a sexual being only, and not treated as the woman she was. Her hair was not at issue. And far more people need to be outraged over the similarities between her and Nikki Minaj, lil Kim and Foxy Brown. (I’m dating myself with those last two, but it’s still relevant)
I’m 46 years old, and I’ve been black for every one of those years. I’ve been called the ‘n’ word, more times than I care to remember. I think I’m well aware how black I am. I’ve been reminded everytime I look in the mirror.
It’s ridiculous to even argue about it. I think that people ask because they’re genuinely curious. I mean at least they ask. Yes, I know there are those that don’t, and there should be a different kind of response for unwelcome touching of my hair, or Amy part or my person. But I’m not going to threaten them with amputation, or my foot in their neck.