I haven't really had a chance to fully process, so I may update this post later. But it finally happened. Someone touched my hair. This someone identifies as male and was actually giving me a compliment about how much he loved the curls. He also was born and raised thousands and thousands of miles from the United States, so maybe there's a cultural difference? We don't know each other well yet, but we run in similar circles occasionally.
In any case, he touched my hair. Now, I didn't feel angry when it happened and at the time of publication I still don't feel enraged. But I feel... something. And I don't begrudge individuals who get angry when this happens to them. He seems like a really nice human. I guess my issue lies in a broad sphere of understanding human interactions.
If you know me well, I'm a champion for consent. I have my reasons. I mean I ask people, especially those I don't know, if I can hug them when there's a strong connection or bond established. The reactions I receive are pretty priceless, and for the most part, they say yes. And while at times I find myself doing what may seem like little things without receiving permission first, I typically catch myself in the act and apologize profusely.
But most people might not think that way. We live in a society where cis males can brag about fondling private parts, specifically of cis females. Where cat-calling is perpetually invasive and not to mention rude and tactless. Where some have to reconsider what they wear in the mirror before they step out to enjoy a night on the town.
And this is not a gender thing, this is a human being thing. Not long before the hair incident, a cis female inappropriately touched my body while I was with my friends. I was more so shocked than anything. Some chuckled and I admit I laughed it off even though I was still uneasy.
But this individual didn't know that at a gathering in the Rec Center during undergrad years ago, someone I had never met, pulled my arm, turned me around and starting dancing behind me-- after I said no. I felt their private parts and it flung me into a downward spiral. (Thank you to my friends that were around; because of them, he came up to me and genuinely apologized. It actually ended up being a great teachable moment.)
You see, that young man didn't know the breaches of consent I had experienced throughout my life up until that point. I could (barely) laugh off what the young lady did only because I practiced mindfulness-- a technique I learned in counseling that helps remind me to live in the present moment.
Triggers are real. They're similar to what my pastor, Michael C. Bradford, calls "historical responses." Because I've experienced something in my past, I react a certain way. And granted, we may never know what someone can be triggered by during our day-to-day interactions. In all fairness, we may not know what triggers we possess. That is, until something happens and we have to face emotions we may have not known were present.
I'm a believer in God and the capacity to heal and forgive. But I know it's a process. I recently shared with someone that God is the only person who could pick up the shattered pieces of a heart without flinching and being injured. I'm not sure what you believe, but I know that surrounding yourself with good people and focusing on the Light in the world helps immensely.
Touching my hair might not seem like a big deal, but it can be considered a microaggression, particularly for those who intentionally do and say things because of privilege and superiority complex etc. And I'm not insinuating by any means that it's how the individual who touched my hair feels/thinks/believes. And honestly, he might not have been the first person to do it. I'm just becoming more enlightened and vocal about my feelings and experiences. But I wonder: how could or even should I have made that a teachable moment (not rhetorical, help me out family)?
My body and everything attached to it is my own. As is yours.
Let's find ways to be more conscious and considerate of each other. Love, Light and Healing.
Jamie I.Y. Crockett
The video was shot and edited by Jordan R. Williams for a Strategic Communication Techniques course offered by the University of Missouri.