If you’re an Afro-Latina, you know that sometimes life with your fabulous Black hair can feel a lot like playing a round of whack-a-mole. Despite the fact that there are literally a hundred plus things to show us love for, one of the most common “compliments” we get is aimed towards our hair. Typically it’s done with a follow up from a “complimenter’s” inquisitive fingers. And that is just a big, fat NOPE.
It’s a super common racial microaggression that so many women belonging to the Black community encounter. Fortunately, Momo Pixel, a Portland-based art director from Wiedne+Kennedy, has created a new game that translates the frustrations so many Black women who often have their space invaded experience.
Pixel’s game, Hair Nah!, features a female protagonist named Aeva who must swat away curious hands in order to successfully make it to her final vacation destination.
— Momo (@MomoUhOh) November 15, 2017
Players of the game get to choose the main character’s skin tone and hair style (which includes Bantu knots, dreads and afros). As Aeva tries to make it to her flight to either Havana, Santa Monica or Osaka (you choose!), she encounters looming hands that threaten to touch, pinch and pet her hair. Not blocking the hands in time means she misses her flight.
“It’s literally happened to every black girl I’ve met. Even while making this game it happened to me, multiple times. And I’m just like, ‘Come on! When does it stop?’” Momo said in a statement, according to HuffPost. “Working on this game was such a breath of fresh air because it’s like, finally! I get to tell you, ‘No, stop touching me. Respect my space,’ before it happens – and in the most fun, chill, hilarious way.”
The game might seem all fun and games, but for so many women on Twitter, the experience of having their hair handled by unwanted physical attention is all too real.
— Aleia Averill (@aleiaaverill) November 16, 2017
For many Black women, the subtly racist experience of having someone touch their hair without their permission is a constant occurrence. The touch typically comes with a well-meaning compliment that is still laced with racist connotations, even if those people insist they aren’t intending to be offensive.
Along with having their hair touched by a stranger, Black women also often face questions like “do you wash it?” “is it real?” and “why is it like this?”
— Ayanna✨??? (@ajs_kinzer) November 17, 2017
But for the curious mind behind invasive fingers, there’s a lack of reflection that doesn’t allow them to ask questions like, “why is this so intriguing to me?” For so many Black women, the questions coupled with the touching is a reminder of how often they are left out of mainstream society, where our hair and our skin tones are considered less appealing and inferior.
Black hair isn’t foreign or exotic, but the way the mainstream media selectively chooses to portray it has the affect of making it seem out of the ordinary.
This is wonderful on so many levels. You are awesome! ??
— Naomi María ✨ Maker Witch, Not Sandwich Maker (@naomimaria) November 16, 2017
So then these people with wandering hands are too fascinated to keep their fingers to themselves, and it’s not okay. Here’s hoping, Pixel’s hit game teaches “well-meaning” microaggressors how unwanted their compliments are and how their touching can make Black women feel dehumanized.