ICYMI: How One Artist Turned a Microaggression Into Your New Favorite Game

By Sameer Rao Nov 17, 2017

A Portland, Oregon-based artist drew from personal experience with a familiar offense to develop a computer game that lets players slap White people’s hands away from Black women’s hair.

Momo Pixel unleashed "Hair Nah" on the world Wednesday (November 15). The game prompts users to select a Black female avatar with one of six hairstyles and click to swipe away the disembodied White hands that emerge from the screen margins.

Pixel told On She Goes, a digital travel publication that focuses on women of color, that she came up with the premise while explaining an instance of undesired hair-touching to colleagues. "One of them was like, ‘Oh man, like I’m trying to imagine [you avoiding the hands],’" she explained. "Now, I’ll just say he’s a very animated guy, and he starts ducking and kinda swatting. And I’m laughing, ’cause I’m like, ‘Nah, it’s not all the time like that, but feels like it.’ But then, as I’m watching him, it dawns on me! I’m like, that would make a hilarious game. Then, boom! ‘Hair Nah!’"  

She, like many Black women, experiences this microaggression all the time. "I’ll be walking, and a woman will reach her hands into my head," she recounted. "I’m talking to a teammate, and a coworker I just met is holding my hair in his hand. I’m in the checkout line, and the cashier will reach across to caress my braids. I shudder thinking about it."

"It’s very off-putting and it pisses me off because it’s hard to be yourself when everyone is claiming a piece of it," she added.

Pixel said she hopes the game’s popularity will further discussions about this behavior. "I don’t know how many times Black people can keep telling folks to stop touching our hair and in how many different mediums before they get it," she laments. "There are countless videos, hella memes, Solange made a song, now there is this game. So if folks don’t get it, it’s because they don’t want to."

Play the game at HairNah.com.