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Omar Holmon (he/him/his) reads his poem, “The 4C Complex.”

Omar Holmon:

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I'm Omar Holmon.

I'll be reading a piece entitled  "The 4C Complex." The reason I wrote the piece and the reason I'm reading the piece is because it's great. I'm a great writer.

I'm amazing. I say things out loud and sounds even better  out loud than in my head. I hope you enjoy it. "The hedgehog's dilemma is a metaphor about the  challenges of human intimacy.

It describes a situation in which a group of hedgehogs seek to move close to one another to share heat during cold weather. They must remain apart, however, as they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines. Though they all share the intention of a close reciprocal relationship, this may not occur, for reasons they cannot avoid." The Black girl dilemma, or sometimes "The type 3a through 4c kinky hair" dilemma, is an example about the challenges of white folks touching a Black woman's hair without permission.

It describes a situation in which a group of Caucasians /  strangers seek to satisfy their curiosity about said Black girl without awareness or consideration for said Black girl's feelings, existence, or well-being. Though the Caucasian will perform a dance of words that say their intentions are "well meaning", they cannot avoid the inevitable offending of the Black girl. Though they "mean well," making contact with a Black girl's hair, however, will not occur, for reasons they both cannot avoid.

Now, there's no term to explain the occurrence of when a Black girl and a Black boy explore one another's hair, but I came close to defining it, in a bar, in Brooklyn, when I had been Black boy sitting with Black girl. The both of us attempting to water-to-wine ourselves from strangers to friends and what better way than a decision to navigate her fingers through the soft of my forest. Notice her mouth reveal a crescent moon when she sees her fingers disappear into my midnight.

I raise my hand, stop, then ask, "May I touch your hair?" She replies, "Yes, you may." I feel there's something more to be said when a Black woman gives you permission to touch her hair - art - God. And how do you describe this texture of God? This chorus of coarse?

A thick quilted hymn?  When a Black woman gives you permission to touch her hair, it's a front row seat to so much sky. A crown of clouds that look like a succulent, no, a weeping willow, or maybe a heart-shaped to bloom in full? I don't have the words, just a calm of trust running my fingers around the summit of her hair.

For us, we're exploring each other's altars.  But I imagine to onlookers, the both of us, hair thick as quills, must look like two hedgehogs admiring each other's spines.