Photo Credit: Daniella Zalcman
Hair is sacred in many cultures and religious expressions. If it isn’t your hair, don’t cut it.
Those two sentences sum up this entire blog post. But since some people apparently don’t know how to keep their hands to themselves, I have to break this down.
In November, a teacher at Cibola High School in Albuquerque cut a Native student’s hair and called another one a “bloody Indian”. Mary Easton threatened the student with a box cutter before asking if the student liked her braids. The student said she did, and Easton put down her box cutter, picked up a pair of scissors, and then cut the students braids and sprinkled the cut hair on the desk.
Now while my godmother is Dine (thanks for the Nambe and AMAZINGLY warm sheep skin slippers and ear muffs, Memaw!), I am not; and my knowledge of the Navajo culture is passing at best, but even I know that their hair is something you don’t mess with. Jacqueline Keeler at Indian Country Today has a very eloquent article about it, that explains it much better than I can. What makes this so much worse than a teacher being rude as fuck and unfit to be in the classroom is that when the United States government forced the Navajo children to go to their federally run schools, the teachers cut the childrens hair without their consent.
Hair is a sacred thing for many people, and many cultures have specific guidelines for how it’s worn or styled. Whether it’s covered with a veil like the Muslims, the Catholic nuns, devotees of Hestia, or Hindu women; or worn long with no restraints; or tied back in braids as many native cultures and even my own magickal practice dictates; hair isn’t something you can just mess with because you feel like it. We teach the kindergardeners to keep their hands to themselves, more people need to remember that.
Don’t touch a Black persons hair without permission.
Don’t touch my braids without permission.
Definitely don’t cut someone’s hair without permission.
If my little nuggets can remember that, why can’t most adults?