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Watch: 'You Can Touch My Hair, A Short Film' - Glimpse Into Fascination w/ 'Black Hair'

by Natasha Greeves
October 22, 2013 6:29 PM
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Un-ruly - Hair

First, for some background on, and context for the project, here's a description from the team behind it - un'ruly, the self-described youthful, yet sophisticated lifestyle brand, housed at, that's also a community resource focused on hair styles, care and products for black women.

Whether it’s 7-year old Tiana Parker getting sent home from school for wearing locs or Dante De Blasio’s afro being credited for giving his father a boost in the New York City mayoral race, Black hair is consistently subject to unsolicited fascination. As the final extension of a bold public art exhibit held in New York City this summer, You Can Touch My Hair, a Short Film takes a glimpse into this fascination and how black women, who are often its subjects, feel about it.

The 22-minute short film can be viewed below in 2 separate parts. And following them is a 25-minute panel discussion about the film's contents, also split into 2 parts, featuring Michaela Angela Davis, Autumn McHugh, and Un'ruly founder Antonia Opiah, which was moderated by Safiya Songhai.


And here's the panel discussion:

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  • MixedMermaid | October 28, 2013 5:28 AMReply

    Love how the "natural hair" topic gets people talking, I'm coloured living in South Africa and people still stare when I wear my hair in it's naturally curly state (think diana ross) coz I have small/slanty eyes and big lips... I love my hair even though I know it's product of slavery, after all so am I.

  • Walter Harris Gavin | October 24, 2013 3:03 PMReply

    James Baldwin said, "If you don't know my name, you don't know your own." Well that the bottom line for "white" folks. For as long as "blacks" and "whites" have been interacting on the world stage they don't really "know" "black" folks other tan as objects of either derision, fascination, or neglect. But as a result of their cultural schizophrenia, at once both hating and being fascinated by the other is constantly being played out in the yin and yang of repulsion and attraction. "Can I touch your hair," is a perfect metaphor for how "white" culture confronts "black" culture on any number of levels from the interpersonal to the institutional. This is so much more than just being about hair. This is very much about power and control over one's own person-ness.

  • kelly | October 23, 2013 8:56 PMReply

    Human zoos. Not a fan of the experiment. It made me cringe.

  • R London | October 23, 2013 6:58 PMReply

    What a load of nonsense! Yes, acceptance of who and what you are empowers you...PERIOD! We, women of colour, have kinks in all different textures and styles. Stop politicising the natural hair movement, it's tedious. If someone's curious about your hair texture have a conversation and enlighten them, no drama.

  • Winsome | October 23, 2013 2:28 PMReply

    What the phuck are these women talking about? They're standing there with wispy blonde manes on their heads, talking about the trevails of having natural hair. Muthaphucka, ain't nobody hating on you for that shit. Try having a head of THICK hair, through which a comb won't easily pass. That's some natural shit for your ass.

  • J Boogie | October 23, 2013 2:50 AMReply

    I felt as if the women in the doc were being sarcastic, yet making a statement. And I wonder if the people who were not of color realized that. They were taking pictures with the women and touching their hair as if it was entertaining. I don't think that's the best way for people to learn because I know if my hand was going through their hair, I know they'd be ducking their head left and right. It's important to ask first to touch or ask questions because black people (or anyone with afro textured hair) is not a petting zoo. We are not animals, and so seeing them "pet" these hair textured also felt like these women are animals. But in the same sense, people don't know and I think we have to understand that people don't get it. But that doesn't mean it's ok to touch.

    That is all. I believe natural is the way to go, but it all depends on the person and the way they want to express themselves.

  • BluTopaz | October 22, 2013 8:27 PMReply

    Jeez Luis. Will natural haired Black women PLEASE stfu about how political their hair is? I have natural hair for over a decade and guess what--nobody cares. And these women making a spectacle out of themselves in this video need a hobby.

  • BluTopaz | October 24, 2013 11:51 PM

    @ Kelly--For a group of BW to turn themselves into a public spectacle , then sit around and talk to each other about how clever it was shows nothing but a desperate need for attention. Like I already stated, I have had natural hair for years and yeah, have heard the gamut of ignorant comments to very complimentary. I keep it moving, and side eye chicks who are self congratulatory about becoming human petting zoos for White folks.

    Niksmit: You're a spelling Nazi--that's all you got besides kinky hair and "surrounded by people who care"? Here's a cookie. Or cooky. And go kick rocks barefoot while you are at it.

    Natural Hair Gyal--thanks for the history lesson, I would have never known that kinky/coily textured hair had such a troubled history (end sarcasm). And it's only political if you want it to be. I work in corporate America for about a decade, and wear my natural hair in a corporate bun and in an afro/twist out on my own time. I'll repeat--NOBODY CARES. Yes there are some abysmally ignorant people out here (of all races) who make derogatory comments about our hair. But I truly think a lot of natural haired Black women LOOOOOOOVE the attention and use it as their calling card. Natural hair is becoming very big business, and this is just another hustle.

    So yeah, they need to STFU, keep it moving and tell anyone who wants to touch them to go to hell. All the problems in the world, and these broads are making videos about people wanting to touch their hair. First World Black Folks' Problems.

  • kelly | October 23, 2013 8:55 PM

    A lot of people care thats why they are doing this documentary. To say no one cares shows you need to get your head out your ass and pay attention.

  • niksmit | October 23, 2013 2:00 PM

    1. The correct spelling of your opening exclamation is "Geez, Louise!"
    2. You should STFU until you realize that your personal experience is not the experience of everyone who has hair like yours.

    Natural for over a decade and surrounded by people who care

  • NATURAL HAIR GYAL! | October 23, 2013 2:55 AM


    Hair means a lot in the black community! You have to realize how much our hair evolved. In slave times, slave masters used to cut off our hair to remove our identities. Then relaxers came about and then everyone wants to have straight hair. Black hair comes in different colors and textures and the fact that it's apart of who we are. So that's why it's so political...

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