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Thursday, February 4, 2016

I am not your doll, I am not your pet, I am not a sideshow act

For my activist poster, I decided on relatively simple design that gets my point across. As a mixed race woman, I have spent a good majority of my life being ashamed of my curly hair and spent countless hours straightening and relaxing and loathing the very fundamental basis, of what I did not realize at the time, was my power. It was not until after I graduated high school that I stopped straightening my hair and embracing how much I love my hair as is. I quickly felt like a sideshow attraction where people would approach me with arms outstretched to grab my hair and run their grimey hands through it, without permission. I was aware of the attention that my hair would bring, but was not aware of how quickly my humanity went out the window and the lack of respect people generally had. Some people have the "decency" to ask to touch it (rude), while others just yank and pull, (Rude and Gross!) I am not a pet, we as African American women are not things to be gawked at and paraded. In the same vein as, "pet yourself, not my hair" campaign, author Mckenzie Harris writes in her article, "Natural Hair Chronicles: Pet Yourself, Not My Hair", Harris explains "I am not a doll, I am not a pet, therefore my hair should not be treated as such" (Harris 2011). I find this message to pack a lot of punch, there are so many layers to what can be said in four words. The lack of respect for personal space, the disregard for humanity and the glorification of exoticism, which rejects the woman as a subject with feelings to an object for dissection, and finally the further distancing of African American women from having the rights and freedoms of other women to express themselves, or plainly just to exist in a world, where whiteness is the celebrated norm, and blackness is a novelty.
I decided to incorporate the profile of a woman, in my first layer, who I felt resembled me. This is my way of including myself in the fight, rather than merely making a claim and staying neutral. I then added a layer of the galaxy, which in my mind represents the vastness of power and energy that never ends, never dies, never gets old, and merely keeps on evolving, creating, and existing regardless of the opinions or exploration that can never really grasp the sheer magnitude of its' magic. And finally, I decided to present my text in a chat bubble that levels my poster with a modern and relevant twist to my millennial roots. I think it is quirky, and adds a bit of humor, but also says exactly what I want it to say.

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