Intelligence and Hair in the UK

I’m back home and I feel kind of dizzy. Maybe it is the jet lag. To took a shower and washed the travels right off me. I have a swollen ankle from nearly busting my ass on the cobble stone streets in Durham. I got to London Friday afternoon an did the 2 hour bus tour. I stayed at a hostel, first time ever. It was called the Generator. It was full of drunk Australians and New Zealanders. They were singing Oasis songs, remember them? Wonder Wall, back in the 90s? Those t two brothers with unibrow who spoke incomprehensible English, didn’t get a long and sang alternative-poppy British songs. The garage is a happening place, I guess. Hostels aren’t so cheap any more 17GBP per night. Times that by two, and you will see why I think a 8 person room and communal shower is ridiculously expensive. Saturday morning, I headed to the airport at a responsible hour. But there was an adventure waiting for me as I caught the Underground to get to the airport. It normally takes an hour to get from Heathrow to The line to the airport was stopped, which meant that I had to make several exchanges. Long story, I’ll get back to that. I was so tired, I have never worked so hard to lift, carry pull climb, drag, stand run, roll, push.. Luckily Londoners are more friendly than New Yorkers and a family helped me carry my luggage on a few of the exchanges. I was stopped by an officer/agent/official after I checked in. He asked where I was going, I said back to the United States. First he said that I was late for my flight, but perhaps it was delayed He then me what was I doing in the UK. I said I was doing research at the University of Sudan. He then took my passport, and I waited to find out how long would the questioning be. I was a little concerned about being held up, I’ve heard some people were held for four hours. When he returned, same line of questions, a barrage of them. He asked me what was I studying. I said at the Sudan archive. He asked what was I studying. I said interwar period Sudan. He didn’t know what that was, I said Sudanese history after World War I and before World War II. He then asked if I had plans to travel to Sudan. I said, if my dissertation topic will be Sudan. He asked if I had plans on traveling to the Middle East. I said I am a student of Middle East history, so I plan to. He asked if I work for any companies. I said no, I am a Ph.D. student at Stanford University. He asked what do I study there. I said study Nigerians in the Middle East. Do I just study? I said I also teach classes. He told me he was interested in people like me, people who travel to conflict areas, hot spots. He works for intelligence and he is interested in information on people like me, you know people like me. Long story, he couldn’t say at the moment. I was allowed to leave and he said, “I don’t know how you do your hair.”

I have had a lot of hair comments since I went natural. So, it wasn’t surprising to get comments from Europeans. “Amazing Hair” on the train. “Big Hair” “How do you do your hair” at the air port “I love your hair” and “Is it all yours?” at the hostel. One woman asked to touch my hair. It is weird, like it is some type of anomaly. Maybe we should gather all the brown women with curly hair and make a petting zoo. We could get young multi-racial children, brown and black babies and the people can gawk and talk about how cute they all are. But I don’t want to blame just our European sisters and brothers. When my hair was straightened, I’ve had African American sistas reach into my hair, asking “Is that all yours?” while feeling for tracks. As if they were going to catch me in a lie. I used to get made fun of for having big hair. They used to call me “Bush!” I have been called a liar about my hair, criticized for bad hair, made fun of for having “fake” hair, I have had girls beef with me over hair, people compliment my hair. I should start singing India Irie, “I am not my hair.” Women’s hair is a crazy powerful thing. Mashallah there is definitely hikmah in hijab.

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2 thoughts on “Intelligence and Hair in the UK

  1. Pingback: U Go Gurl: Traveling as a Black Woman « Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman?

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