The journey of accepting cultures and differences in America hasn’t been a steady one. Due to a history of racism and hatred, subconscious and internalized racism is something that continues to affect many Americans. Decades of racism have forced many into assimilation, without regard or respect to their cultures. This assimilation caused people of color, more specifically women of color, to straighten their hair in order to make others feel more comfortable with their presence.
This caused people with Eurocentric hair to be oblivious to cultures that aren’t their own. Currently, we are in times where women are choosing to accept themselves. From their waves to kinky curls and stretch marks, women are embracing how they are everyday. The emergence of this self acceptance, after years of assimilation and discrimination, shows immense strength.This acceptance has led to the emergence of the natural hair movement, something that I am deeply passionate about because it is something that holds a lot of weight in the Black and Hispanic community.
The effects of this assimilation has created a generation of Americans that are oblivious to culture. This ignorance is the product of a country filled with a racist history. I have seen this ignorance displayed to me several times when strangers ask to touch my hair. Other times I’ve just been approached and shocked by someone’s audacity to touch my hair without asking permission. Something I have to say to those people is, would you ask a stranger with straight hair if you could touch it? It is completely disrespectful and ignorant to ask someone you don’t know if you can touch them. It is a violation of personal space and it cannot be taken lightly.
These Americans need to educate themselves and become aware of the diversity that makes America what it is, a beautiful melting pot. It is okay to admire cultures, but it is also important to respect them and not invade anyone’s personal space. While some might think that asking questions like “is that your real hair?” flattering, it is actually slightly insulting, and it is the result of raising Americans blinded with ignorance and a lack of knowledge of other cultures. It is important to acknowledge each other’s beauty, but one must also stay educated in order to avoid ignorance and be able to understand each other better. Becoming aware and vigilant of the entitlement displayed by some people over the bodies of others is important in order to avoid being another ignorant American.