I feel like white people really enjoy the game 20 questions. I’m not entirely sure why this is, all I know is that it’s really wholesome.
That being said, when it comes to black people’s hair, 20 questions often escalates into 200 questions before you can say “extensions”. I’m not sure whether this is because they are dissatisfied with my answers or are just so curious that they want to know more. Either way, I get it.
My particular hair happens to be “different” in that it not only deviates from what society considers normal in that it’s Afrocentric (which is an entirely different article in and of itself, oh but wait I already wrote it) but it’s also white (as shown above), so naturally people have questions. Who wouldn’t?
These questions are usually anything but ill-intentioned; that being said, I feel as though as people get increasingly comfortable with me and know I won’t go off on them for asking, the questions get increasingly… dumber. No like, just straight up ridiculous.
Let me give you some examples (and these are all questions that people have really asked me, I’m not sure I possess the creative ability to make these up):
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How long does it take your hair to dry after a shower?
This question has earned itself the number one spot on a list that isn’t even in descending order. You’d be so surprised at how many people ask this so nonchalantly, as though it’s a real thing. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and one that I’ve had to train myself not to explicitly laugh out loud at. I never want to come across as mean or condescending. That being said…really? Why the actual f*ck would I even know this?
This question is more funny than it is offensive, at least to me. Because it’s ostensibly harmless, but is also ridiculous. Like word, next time I’m out of the shower I’ll be sure to grab my egg timer and round down to the nearest millisecond. My mission from here on out is to ask anyone who asks me this the same question back and see what they say… I’ll report back.
Is it flammable?
This was a new one that I actually heard for the first time a few days ago. I’d been casually going about my day as one does, thinking about, I don’t know — things like weather, and the MTA, and Tide Pods, things millennials think about. Then, at the end of one of my classes, a young woman with whom I had never spoken approached me timidly. She introduced herself, and continued with, “Okay, I just have a question.”
“…Yes?” Guys. I already knew where this was going. If my Nicolas Cage shirt was the elephant in the room, then my white, waist-length braided hair was Shamu the killer whale.
“I just have to ask… is it flammable?”
I stood there staring back at her for no less than ten seconds and no more than ten years. I really wanted to say “Congratulations, this one takes the cake.” But did I say that? No, I did not. I answered back with a simple, “What?”
I know… a lot to dissect here. I’m not even entirely sure I can answer this question adequately, just for public record’s sake. I mean.. .isn’t the short answer “yes”? Isn’t all hair flammable? Was this a trick question? Was she plotting something? I don’t think either of us knew what was going on. Or at the very least… I didn’t.
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Do you use horse hair?
Omg. This one is straight up offensive and hard to defend, haha. More than one person has asked me this (and they weren’t joking, which I’m not sure is better or worse).
This person gets bonus points, though. Because this question implies that they’ve figured out that my white hair is extensions and not grown from my actual head which, nice? (Not that it’s there for anyone to figure out in the first place, but I digress). But said bonus points are immediately retracted because I regret to inform you that whatever Reddit thread you’re reading about black women’s hair is sorely inaccurate.
So, to be clear… NO.
Do you take the braids out and re-braid them every night?
No. No, I don’t.
What happens if you pull on one?
Sure Culture II is great, but ever heard Newton’s Laws of Motion (explicit)? I’ll swing you the SoundCloud link. It’s straight fire, I’ll just leave my favorite verse right here:
I. “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”
II. “The relationship between an object’s mass, its acceleration , and the applied force is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.”
And perhaps the best line on the entire album:
III. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
But also, please don’t pull anybody’s hair unless you like them and it’s Kindergarten and even still please don’t, and try not to pull your own either if you can help it.
What happens if you cut one?
Hmm. I’m not sure. Just going based off of what logically makes sense though, I’m sure it’s safe to assume that the Dow Jones drops 600 points, the SWAT team descends from the sky… etc. Can’t 100% confirm, though. What happens if you cut yours?
Are you bald without the braids?
This, again, seems to be yet another trick question. Like… technically if I were to undo my hair I wouldn’t be bald. I would most certainly still have the hair I had before I braided it, if that makes sense. But also anyone would be bald without their hair, so I just… never know how to go about answering this one.
I think it’s important and genuinely cute that white people want to learn about black hair. But it can also be exhausting and uncomfortable for us to answer those questions a lot of the time! Google.com is a wonderful resource.
Pro tip: if a question sounds stupid when you ask it about “white hair,” then it will almost definitely sound stupid when you ask it about black hair. The question itself may in fact be objectively stupid. If you would never ask someone with straight blonde hair how long it took them to grow it out or how long it takes for their hair to dry after a shower… I probably wouldn’t risk it.
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