Photo: iStock

Here’s the problem with growing up in a world that tells you you’re entitled to everything (even owning and colonizing people at various points in history): If you don’t know (or learn) better, you’re inevitably bound to touch something—or someone—that doesn’t belong to you.

That’s what happened on Thursday in a Georgia establishment called Little Azio’s, as an unidentified and unassuming black customer innocently tried to pay for her order—and the white customer in line behind her felt it perfectly acceptable to begin stroking and playing with the black woman’s long extensions while expressing admiration for the style. (In the following video, please take note of the cashier’s face.)

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Photographer Dustin Chambers happened to witness the scene and quickly videoed it, suggesting the intensely awkward interaction had begun to play out moments before when he tweeted:

“I saw her playing with it as I walked in, and decided to film when I realized they didn’t know each other. [The black woman] says, ‘I’m being very friendly today but please don’t touch my hair.’”

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In other words, via the immortal lyrical stylings of Ice Cube, “It was a good day.”

The black customer handles the situation with admirable grace and tact, gently affirming her boundaries while turning an awkward moment into a teachable one. But to our non-black readers, for the thousandth time: Please do not attempt to touch our hair without permission—especially not with the expectation that it will be greeted with such patience and politeness. We hate to explain this basic premise to any adult as if they were a small child, but you can admire something (or someone) without feeling entitled to touch it—especially without first asking permission.

That’s right. Look, don’t touch.

Furthermore, please understand that when you do violate someone’s physical space in such an intimate matter—even with the best of intentions—they are in no way, shape or form obligated to respond politely. This white woman just got lucky. While we used the term “catching hands” in jest, understand that touching someone without their permission can feel like an assault—and should you try it with the wrong person, they may respond accordingly.

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In fact, one of the most cringe-worthy parts of watching this exchange is how conciliatory the victim is, assuring the perpetrator that “it’s okay” and smiling her way through an interaction in which she is the one who has been violated. We can only imagine how that would’ve played out, had she not—or had the situation been reversed.

Because contrary to the “angry black woman” trope, what we do best is make it okay for everyone else. *sigh* 

But at least today I didn’t even have to use my AK

I got to say it was a good day.

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