I try to remember that there’s room to think about large-scale, urgent matters of social justice and microaggressions (a term that’s made a recent resurgence to refer to race-related, irksome interactions that add up and alienate people on a daily basis). Truthfully, anything to do with black women and hair runs a pretty high risk of slipping into the latter category.
Editor’s Note: Jenée Desmond-Harris delivers a useful answer to a question she received from a white gentleman. The man had given a compliment to a black woman who was rockin’ an amazing afro. He wanted to know if he was out of place or not.
Personally, I find it a sad reality that society is so jacked up that we can’t compliment someone without worrying if we are offending them, but when society is so laced with racism, prejudice and bias it’s not a shock that people are wary of the intentions of comments from strangers who normally are not known to be complimentary towards anything out of the “mainstream” look. I hope that in the future natural women are truly accepted and get so many genuine compliments that it won’t be an issue anymore. Here the 3 tips for successful complimenting:
- Do not touch if you don’t KNOW you have permission to touch.
- Compliment, don’t interrogate.
- Don’t make a scene, regardless of good intentions.
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