Can I touch your hair?

So Un-ruly.com is hosted a “You Can Touch My Hair” event in NYC’s Union Square Park on Saturday, June 8 from 2-4pm. The event was a response to the question, “Can I Touch Your Hair?” that many black women are asked about their hair styles and textures. Antonia Opiah, the founder of Un-ruly.com conceived this event after an interaction she had in a Paris nightclub when someone asked her this question. Full disclosure: I am a black woman with naturally curly hair and I have been asked this question before. In fact, I had a similar experience in Paris when I was wearing kinky twists and a group of East Asian tourists asked if they could touch my hair (From what I caught, I think they may have been Japanese, but I’m not sure).

Here are three postings about the event:

  1. Can I Touch Your Hair? Huffington Post blog post
  2. Event posting on Un-ruly.com
  3. The Human Zoo

To me this fascination with hair is a case of the colonized versus the colonizer. After all, I never hear any of my black friends asking to touch white people’s hair. For years black women’s bodies were dissected as if they were science experiments and not human beings. Perhaps the most poignant example is Sarah Baartman, or Hottentot Venus, who was enslaved and taken to England to be a part of a freak show because of her large posterior. Then when she died her buttocks and labia were on display in a museum in France until the 80s when a large push from the court of public opinion forced them to give her parts back to her people. Depending on the social impact of this exhibit, we could be giving into our own exploitation, which is not progress. Our hair is not separate from us.

I caught the tail end of the exhibit in Union Square Park on Saturday, June 8th and I am writing an article about my experience. I plan on placing the event in the context of the 50th Anniversary of the Black is Beautiful Movement. I’m going to shop it around to Clutch, Ebony, Essence, HuffPost, and some arts websites where I know some editors. I’ll post a link of where it appears.

Tired of defending my theater major

“If you can’t get a job, and you majored in drama, there’s probably a reason,” said Huckaby, who oversees the state’s public colleges and universities with the guidance of the regents.

Hank Huckaby is the Chancellor for the University Systems of Georgia, the body that oversees all of the state’s universities. He made this comment while being honored for his years of service at a church in Athens, GA, where The University of Georgia is located. Mr. Huckaby, why did you have to pick on the drama majors?

I ‘d first like to link to two articles to counter his statement:

  1. “3 Reasons A Theatre Degree Is Important”
  2. “10 Ways Being A Theatre Major Prepared Me For Success”

And now I’ll explain/rant/give my reasons…

Why is theater always used as the “go-to if you want to fail” major? My theater major got me admitted into my master’s program at Syracuse University (it was required to have majored in a fine art to be admitted). I’m now the Public Relations Manager at a major theater in upstate NY. I also freelance as an arts journalist writing about theater. An article I wrote was recently the cover story for Dramatics Magazine. In addition to the education and job things, being a theater major makes you incredibly well-read, a great team player, an awesome communicator, and you can blend-in in any setting. It’s not about what you major in, it’s about what you do with your degree. I’m not failing, and neither is anyone in the class I graduated in at UGA (go theater majors class of 2011!).

Jobs held by fellow theater majors in my graduating class:

  • House Manager
  • Stage Manager
  • Lighting Designer
  • Teacher
  • Actor/Actress
  • Journalist
  • Production Assistant
  • Dramaturg
  • Assistant Director (on a production)

He made this statement in the context of growing the state’s job market and profile. He said that many jobs are available and vacant because college students are majoring in the wrong things, like drama, and are unqualified. He said this without considering that no one wants to live in a city without the arts. Period. Just because Georgia is among the stingiest states when it comes to funding the arts, does not mean majoring in theater is a problem. It just drives talent out of the state.

When corporations are courting the best talent for their organizations they take them to the opera, ballet, theater, etc. Arts sell cities. Cities need theater majors. He needs to read Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class. Furthermore , being in the arts is a noble pursuit, and every student deserves to feel as if their education and talents are appreciated, especially by the place they are receiving a degree from. I’m tired of defending my theater major, so I won’t anymore. Instead I will live a life of art, fulfillment, and employment.

Read the full article

#Twerkteamactivists #Freethetwerkteam

Apparently a group of suburban white girls filmed a twerk video at school (using school cameras), posted the video on YouTube, and now the school has banned them from attending senior prom and marching in their commencement ceremonies. For those who have been living under a rock, and don’t know what twerking is, it’s the type of fast gyrating and dancing that occurs in the strip club. This style of “dance” originated in the black community (like most trendy things), and has been around since at least the early 90s. In recent years, teenage girls posting twerk videos on the internet has been commonplace. The prevalence of these videos really presents a lot of questions for me about female sexuality, and how this fascination with twerking both empowers and objectifies these young women…but that’s a different blog post entirely…

Now I want to state for the record that I find teenagers posting twerk videos on the internet to be a really…teenage decision…go read a book. That being said, I think banning them from prom AND graduation is harsh.

See for yourself.