The last time I tried to take a basics in Krav Maga course I had to stop and vomit.

I am a slow, soft, plush creature, and working my way from marshmallow to meat has proven difficult.

A woman with an Afro trains in boxing with both gloves up and reay
iStock/Vesnaandjic

It’s as much for The Revolution as it is personal reasons...I think

But as much as I may have strength and fitness goals in mind, the current situation is that I’m built for comfort, not for speed. And it’s 100% fine, I’m learning to love my body no matter how many inches I can pinch, or stairs I can make without getting winded. I can do things before exercise-wise that I couldn’t before, and it’s exciting! But what I can’t do is dodge.

Muhammad Ali dodges blows from Joe Frazier
ESPN Classic/Muhammad Ali

Yeah, those talents have yet to be cultivated.

So when people grab for my hair out of turn, they get a handful 100% of the time. I can’t duck, block, weave, anything. But the thing is, I don’t actually MIND...with some caveats.

I’ll return to those a little later, but my non-ninja status has me wondering...if I let people fondle my floof, am I part of the problem? Is my own behavior letting curlies who would otherwise go unmolested be quasi-assaulted when the perpetrators strike again?

I’d like to think no.

As a black girl, and even now occasionally as a grown black woman, I would feel that every time I was late, or enthusiastic about watermelon, or vocally angry at anything I was doing my people a disservice by not being a good “Black Ambassador”, that I was setting our people back by living out stereotypes. As I came into my own and stopped seeing “But you’re not black black” as a compliment, I realized that racist behavior was not going to be controlled or ameliorated by my own actions, but rather by the shift in the hearts and minds of those that choose to hold on to that toxic BS. It was freeing. I puffed up my 'fro, and ate fried chicken in public with wild abandon knowing that any prejudiced headshaking from anyone would STILL come no matter what I chose to do.

But with not having an immediate reaction to having my hair touched, I feel like I’m betraying my curly kinfolk all over again. Despite knowing full well that you can only control another adult human being to a certain degree, I feel like it’s my fault that these handsy folks can’t keep their “just curious” fingers to themselves with other people.

And to come back to my caveats, I really don’t mind being touched.  Sometimes, if I can see That Look™ in people’s eyes I’ll just pre-empt them with a ‘You can touch the ends if you like’. As long as my permission is granted, hands look clean, and I’m being complimented genuinely, it’s fine by me. In the back of my mind I’ll wonder what they would do had I said no, but that’s technically a me problem. Even so, despite all evidence that it’s not my job to teach anyone manners, I can’t shake the feeling that my acceptance at this sort of contact is doing others a disservice.

A woman with a big afro-textured hair in a headwrap looks askance offscreen
iStock/RapidEye

With all this in mind, how can I reconcile my snail-like reflexes with my desire to keep my dignity and the potential dignity of others intact?

After all these years of a sour-yet-demure ‘Please ask first’ after the fact, I’ve finally found my personally perfect solution for people that just reach out at me:  I touch their hair back. And I get IN THERE.

In a role-reversal, a black woman with an afro ruffles the hair of a white straight haired woman commenting "Your hair is AMAZING"
Buzzfeed Video

I'm not great at being proactive, but I can be REACTIVE like no one’s business. 

If it’s A-OK for someone to get in my hair, it has to go both ways, right? And I’m doing the other party SUCH a favor by asking permission as I’m grabbing for those locks. I’m so magnanimous really...especially where my spreading sarcasm around is concerned, wink wink.

So far since its implementation, the hippies and inebriated punks that have just “HAD TO” touch my hair have been amenable to my reciprocation. And really, not only SHOULD everyone that feels they get to touch whomever’s head be, but I also go into it with the attitude that they darn well BETTER be. Still, I’m waiting for the day when someone pulls back and I get to give them a nice cutting speech. THAT I’m prepared for.

A black woman with box braids gives a presentation to a table of people
iStock/PeopleImages

Or a one-liner if I decide I don’t have the time/all my slides with me.

Gloat like a butterfly, I guess?

I want to make it clear that no one needs to share my attitudes or my solution! Curlfriends, if you don’t want your hair touched, and you have an inner Super Saiyan to unleash, let it go like Goku. If you’re not as into anime as I am, let it go like Elsa and ice-blast a motherlover however you see fit! This is all about choice.

Now who has an opinion on this? Would my solution work out for you or not so much? Let us hear it!