Black women are the most magical beings on the planet. From their profound strength to their immense sense of grace, Black women seem to find new ways to change and shape the world on a daily basis. But with that majesty comes people who act our their fascination with them in crazy ways. Chief among them: touching their hair. Solange Knowles made an entire song about strangers feeling entitled to touch her hair without permission, and Black women the world over sang along, remembering their own interactions with uninvited hands.
And now there is Momo Pixel. The 27-year-old graphic designer and art director from Louisville, Ky., wanted to express to the world the frustration that Black women experience when people violate their personal space. The result is the interactive online video game Hair Nah. Players can create their own characters, complete with different hairstyles and skin tones, and use them to ward off the prying hands of complete strangers as they travel.
CASSIUS talked to Momo about the game and why she feels it is necessary.
CASSIUS: What was the creation process for Hair Nah?
Momo Pixel: Well, I had the idea early February of this year. Then I spent the next couple months figuring out the concept and the game play. And originally, the idea was that every time she changed her hair, the game would get harder. But after talking to some friends, they thought it be better if you got to choose your hair style. So I changed it. I had no clue how the game making process is supposed to go. So I started designing the levels before we had everything figured out. I kinda had to back track in the middle of it, around July. But it was getting to be too much to design and make by myself. So another designer came and helped me, she did the destinations and the reaching hands. We finished designing most of the assets at the end of September. But we were killing two birds with one stone, because as we finished a level, we would hand it off to the animator. So his part was finished soon after we were, back in early October. Then the last part was the developer, I think he only had a month and a half. But he did an amazing, amazing job. So yep, it took us about 10 months!
C: Has the online reception of Hair Nah surprised you?
MP: To be honest, I knew this was going to happen. The game is dope. Now I didn’t know all the publications who were going to hit me up and that has been a surprise. But I knew this game was dope, that I am dope. I will say I’m surprised that more people aren’t disagreeing. I don’t know if that’s because I had 10 months to plan this and word it right. But man, I definitely thought folks were going to be coming for my goose. And it’s been all pleasant.
I think that sometimes they think they are the only one ‘fascinated’ by our hair, but in reality a lot of people are. You are not the only person who reached for my hair today, Susan.
C: How do you see the game changing those who might’ve actually touched a Black woman’s hair in the past?
MP: I think that sometimes they think they are the only one “fascinated” by our hair, but in reality a lot of people are. You are not the only person who reached for my hair today, Susan. So I hope that this game shows them how stressful and disrespectful this issue is, which ultimately gets them to stop. Also, if this game gets huge, maybe they’ll stop asking, “Can I touch it?” as well.
C: Do you feel that Black women are represented well in the tech space?
MP: Hmm. I mean, you already know the answer to that. But I think it can change just by us creating our own opportunities, which we are doing.
C: What does “Black Girl Magic” mean to you?
MP: To me, “Black Girl Magic” means who you are born already being. From the moment your presence enters the world, you are Black Girl Magic and after that anything you do will be filled with it!