On the sly supposedly...
I've been in a couple of situations where it was obvious to me that the person wanted to touch my hair and did but tried to be slick about it.
Once was one of my karate instructors who is white. He and I are around the same age. I have been taking karate under his instruction for nearly three years so it's not like I'm a stranger.
I had caught him on more than one occasion staring at my hair so I knew he was curious, but he never asked to touch it.
During one class period, he was showing me the correct way to do a technique and he placed his hands in such a way that he touched my hair several times. It's hard to explain but really his hand didn't have to touch my hair at all to show me what he was showing me.
It surprised me and caught me off guard but I didn't react. I cut him some slack and pretended not to notice what he was doing since despite everything, at the end of the day he must have felt uncomfortable directly asking to touch my hair for a myriad of reasons...
1) He didn't want to seem condescending (i.e. giving a "petting an animal in the zoo" type vibe).
2) He's married and very much in love with his wife so why does he want to touch some other woman's hair?
3) I'm married and very much in love with my husband who wouldn't want some other man touching his wife's hair.
4) The race relations in this country (as Korkscrew Curly has repeated said) make it a very un-PC and risky endeavor to ask a black person if it's okay to touch their hair, no matter the closeness of the relationship.
5) I might have said, "no" if he asked making the interactions between us thereafter probably awkward and uncomfortable.
Another time was a coworker who is actually Hispanic (Mexican descent) and has dated at least one black man (a man from Trinidad) that I know of. She is a little older than me. She was one who I also caught staring at my hair on more than one occasion but she never asked to touch it.
It's important to note that unlike the relationship with my karate instructor (whom I get along with) this coworker's relationship and mine is somewhat antagonistic. For the sake of doing a good job I try to get along with her but our personalities clash most days due to her "control freak" tendencies. So her reasons for not just coming out directly and asking to touch were more obvious and overt.
Anyway, one day, she was acting out a scenario to some parents we were presenting to and she pretended to tell a secret in my ear and used that moment to touch all through my hair.
I did not cut her any slack. I pulled away immediately and looked at her like she was nuts. She turned red (clearly embarrassed) but in her typical fashion figured out a way to make it look like that was part of what we were demonstrating.
Later when we were all debriefing about our presentation, I found a way to loudly proclaim that I don't like anyone who is not in my circle of trust and love touching my hair without permission. She got the message and has steered clear of my hair ever since.
There is definitely curiosity out there about "black hair" per se. And people find a way to satisfy that curiosity one way or another. LOL!
Me Fascina El Pelo
Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense