Can I Touch Your Hair
2019, fineliner pen, 84 X 60cm
Embracing one’s ethnic heritage while living in an ethnocentric county of the United Kingdom, such as Kent, is a dichotomy. Nuanced prejudices in this petri dish of suburban British society serve to constantly remind you that if you are not white, you are different.
This notion seems to be perpetually present in social situations of which people attempt to touch my hair. This may seem perfectly innocuous to be intrigued by hair that is different to the norm, but looking below that veneer of innocent curiosity you will find the root of racial prejudice. For a Caucasian person to ask to touch afro hair or in many cases pat one’s head without asking, is a demeaning act having connotations of petting an animal. Thus, making an individual feel less than.
The texts used in the collaged ground provide a means of contextualising the portrait by acting as a catalyst for the expression of pan African pride. Pragmatically selected pages from the 1940s ‘Sierra Leone studies’ book, is a crucial part of the process as this expresses the strong ties I have to my heritage; placing them in a new domain to show exactly where my afro hair comes from. This work focuses on one aspect of the Afro-British experience in modern society that I hope exemplifies larger socio-political issues which will resonate with ethnic minorities.