[quote cite="The Oxford Dictionary"]Ignorance: Lacking knowledge or awareness in general. [/quote]

A little more than a year ago, I joined several Facebook groups in order to share my natural hair experiences with others. I was mostly interested in tips and experiences of others because here in the Netherlands, approximately 59% of the population has curly hair. Yet, it is normal for us to be treated as the minority and receive negative comments about our precious curls. Sometimes, the comments are not meant to insult someone, people simply do not realize that they are being ignorant and offensive. When individuals call someone ignorant, they often relate it to racism or discrimination. But do these terms actually go hand in hand? That's up to your perception of the meaning.

At first, I was offended by the comments and it actually made my transitioning process even harder--I would ask myself whether my natural hair was the right fit for me or not. But then I concluded with, God does not make mistakes. But why was I still receiving these comments?

When individuals call someone ignorant, they often relate it to racism or discrimination. But do these terms actually go hand in hand?

Even though it is a constant challenge, I have found the best way to respond to an ignorant comment is by educating the individual who says it; responding with anger or insults will only increase our differences. We should aim to make the world a better place and I personally believe that education is the best way to start. I take these five steps to respond to negative comments about my curly hair.

1. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Is it the first time that the person made the comment? Then you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt: maybe the comment was not meant to be offensive. However, if the person repeats the statement then you should definitely read below points.

2. Ask them to repeat their comment.

Was the comment meant to be offensive? You never know until you ask. “What do you mean by that?” is often a good way to pop the question. Often the reader will understand that you did not like the comment after you posed the question.

3. Provide insightful feedback.

“I think that straight hair looks better on you...”

I respond with, "How would you feel if I say that a part of your natural appearance does not look good on you?”

Sometimes, people need direct feedback to understand your point. However, if you do not feel comfortable with speaking up, do not do so! You might stutter and as a result, your statement might be less powerful to the receiver.

4. Give them a nonverbal "no".

Look at them, shake your head, while silently mouthing a ‘no’. This will immediately show the speaker that he/she crossed the line.

5. Ignore them.

Is it that colleague again who clearly shows that he or she does not like you personally and tries to annoy the hell out of you with their words? Just ignore them. Research shows that being ignored is one of the greatest mental tortures a human being can experience. Of course, I do not want to torture someone voluntarily. However, I feel that someone who has bad intentions is not worth my time and energy.