Solange Knowles’s ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ and Phoebe Robinson’s ‘You Can’t Touch My Hair’ expresses the dismissals black women receive about their hair.
By: Kitiana Adams, Staff Writer
Black women have been dismissed because of European standards for decades, feeling demonized about their natural features with hair being a targeted feature but Solange Knowles along with Phoebe Robinson, have used their unique platforms to remind society that twists and cornrows of an Afro-American woman is not for white commentary nor entertainment.
Throughout the Afro-centric indie artist’s third studio released album, A Seat at The Table, Knowles expresses the issues that the black community may have with the country’s tumultuous connection to black culture and one of those issues pertains to hair. The beginning of the pre-hook to the ninth track, Don’t Touch My Hair, is “they don’t understand what it means to me,” expressing how hair for African-Americans is more than what meets the eye. Hair is an extension of their being, pride, heritage, feeling, and emotion but most importantly, their self-identity.
“I think that one of the things that I’m also trying to communicate through the song is the way that people see us through our hair,” Knowles said on her website, Saint Heron.
Knowles’ soulful anthem from her album was accompanied with a retro, take you back to “hot-combs and Blue Magic” visual that gave viewers a taste of the true meaning behind her strong lyrics. In every shot everyone is in groups showcasing a variety of hairstyles. She goes through a timeline of hairstyles that were and are still prevalent in black culture today such as Marcel waves, brushed-out curls, crowns of looped braids, and Afros.
While Knowles shared her inner feelings through a musical track, Phoebe Robinson, a young stand-up and podcast comedian, shared her experiences of micro aggression, in her new book titled You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain. In Robinson’s book, that debuted on October 4th, 2016, she explains the “National Geographicesque” tones that black women have grown frustrated with–the groping and marveling that white women are guilty of doing, going on about how different the texture of a black woman’s hair feels than what they expected. A trip to a supermarket can quickly turn into a seminar about the history of black hair.
The insults that black women receive, when it comes to hair, are easily masked as a compliment or admiration. Letting your anxious fingers travel through a black woman’s kinks and curls because it’s something that feels and looks “different” isn’t admiration, it’s a human freak show for the one who’s on the outside of the cage–we’re not animals, we’re human like everyone else.
“Nope. You can’t touch my hair. Even if my hair catches on fire, do not come to my rescue; just let me do a Michael Jackson move to put the blaze out,” Robinson said.