About 85% of the time, my head is wrapped in a scarf. So if you ever see me out in the streets, there is a good chance that I look like the picture above. I cover my head not for religious reasons but for convenience. Basically, I don’t feel like doing my hair everyday so I don’t. Having my head covered allows me to come and go with ease and also serves as a protective style for my hair.
While going through airport security in Rome, the security woman (IDK what Rome’s TSA folks are called) asked me to remove my head wrap. Ummmmm, girl bye. You are not about to have me in the middle of the airport looking like Buck Wheat from The Little Rascals. After I informed her that I would not be removing my scarf, she said that she would have to touch it. She starts feeling around and isn’t satisfied so she has another woman take me into a private room for a more thorough search.
We step into this room and ole girl says that she needs to see my hair. I’m like okay, whatever and I take off the scarf. She then proceeds to feel my hair for explosives or something because apparently just seeing it was not enough. As she has her hands in my hair, she says “Oh my God! Does your hair grow out of your head like this!” Girl. Could she be any more ignorant? Has she never seen a black person before? I know she has because not only are there black folks in Rome, she works AT THE AIRPORT. People of all backgrounds pass through that place. I literally cannot wrap my head around how white people think that is an acceptable question to ask someone.
She goes on to ask me what I do to get my hair like this and if I put any products in it to make it do this. She then tells me she thinks my hair is so cool and so nice and says she hates her hair because it’s so straight. What she probably thought was a compliment was absolutely not one, the damage was already done honey. If she looking for a weapon or whatever it is she thought I may have been hiding, once I removed my scarf, she would have seen it. There was absolutely no reason for her hands to be in my hair. She saw something that she thought was different, weird, cool, whatever, and just had to have her hands on it.
As I reflect back, I get more and more frustrated because there was nothing I could do to prevent this from happening. Had I been in the states and she came near me trying to touch my hair, I may or may not have popped off if I’m keeping it real. However, because starring on the next season of Locked Up Abroad was not on the itinerary, I had to allow my body to be violated. Having someone put their hands in your hair and ask if your hair is real and grows out of your head like that is a scenario unique to a black experience. The world is so white centered that many people (of all backgrounds) see white as the standard. In her mind, everyone’s hair is like hers. Therefore, I must have done something to my hair to alter it in this manner.
I’m seriously questioning my choices for my next trip. Usually, I like to get braids for a vacation. This time, however, I decided to save myself the effort (and the money) and just rock my usual wraps. This is not something that I (nor anyone) should have to experience. Am I just supposed to accept this as a part of life? If I want to continue traveling abroad and wearing my head covered should I expect to have ignorant white folks touching my hair? I’m not too sure.