Good Hair: Is Chris Rock Telling Our Business?

Good Hair, the new Chris Rock Michael-Moore-styled expose about the Black Hair industry will be in movie theaters soon. I have mixed feelings. Do we want the secrets of our historic hair drama to be exposed? Do we want to air the dirty laundry of our habitual, almost institutional rejection of our natural selves, our naps? It is, after all, one of our biggest and oldest self-hate secrets.

Do we want the world to know how we continue the age-old judgment of our own grades of hair? We don’t need to let that out, do we? Is it anybody’s business but our own?

I once wrote an article about the history of relaxers. I explored the chemical evolution of the process and its dangers. I came away wondering if relaxers have anything to do with the unique health concerns of African-American woman—higher inflammatory breast cancer (the most aggressive and early hitting form of cancer), and the whole slew of auto-immune diseases, for example. I fear we as a community are not asking this question with enough diligence because we don’t really want to know the answer!

What we do in the name of vanity and convenience is mind boggling! I am currently on a relaxer strike. I am concerned at my age about the health affects and about the cost and about the messages to my daughters. I am currently happy with my choice of going natural, for now…even though I have a clump of tangles at the crown of my head that resembles a hidden dread-lock! I can currently smooth hair over it. But this will change soon and I will need to do something!! Still, the choices are always hard. I think I look younger when my hair is relaxed. I think I look a bit more sophisticated when my hair is relaxed. I don’t get hidden dreadlocks when my hair is relaxed!
But my hair stinks like chemicals when it is relaxed. And I have to curl it everyday when it is relaxed. And it tends to break off easier.

Chris Rock’s movie will be a big hit because this hair issue is ENORMOUS for us. And I think the rest of the world is not just a little curious about our hair and our hair style choices. I bet, for example, lots of curious non-Black people will view the movie just to get some insight on the ever-changing hair styles, colors and lengths of the Williams Sisters… or how it is that their Black colleagues show up one day with one hair color or length, just to appear the very next day with something altogether new!

I think Chris Rock is hilarious and usually right on point. But other folks just don’t need to know how many hours we spend in the beauty parlor…or that we don’t wash our hair everyday (except Oprah, of course!) Some things just need to stay in the family!!

We folks, however, should go check out the movie in droves. Because we know we need to laugh at ourselves…and check ourselves, in this. Don’t take the children!

Perhaps after we view the movie, we can talk about what we do to our daughters when we impose on them very early in their lives this orientation to the beauty rigors that is our hair… and the cost to their self worth of this need to have their hair bouncin’ and behavin’!

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Comments

  1. I sat in the movie theater in our predominately white community when the trailer was airing and I had the same thoughts. I told myself I have nothing to be ashamed of regarding my hair and hopefully Chris will elude to this in the movie. We will soon find out.

    I attempted to go natural as well for a couple of months. I loved my hair, but my scalp grew increasingly tender. I got a light relaxer and have been wearing it in a bob for the past 3 weeks. I'm still dissapointed by the number of compliments I've gotten on my straight hair, even though the othe hair style was just as stylish. When will we change our mind set regarding our natural hair?

  2. Please take a moment to check out my documentary film BLACK HAIR

    It is free at youtube. 6 parts including an update from London, England.

    It explores the Korean Take-over of the Black Beauty Supply and Hair biz..

    The current situation makes it hard to believe that Madame C.J. Walker once ran the whole thing.

    I am not a hater, I am a motivator.

    Plus I am a White guy who stumbled upon this, and felt it was so wrong I had to make a film about it.

    self-funded film, made from the heart.

    Can it be taken back?

    Link

  3. To respond to the article, hair is not WMD. It's nothing to be “secretive” or “in the family” about. It's just not that serious. On the other hand, I don't like people asking me about petty things so if a random white person (I'm Black) asked me about my hair, I'd be like “please go and google it”. Why I'm looking forward to Rock's film, Ranen's doc is more thought provoking. *ESPECIALLY* in this economy, we need to think about where our dollars are going. Spend wisely ladies!

    Angela, why would you be “disappointed” by the positive compliments on your straight hair? You seem to prefer the staight hair on yourself as well. Why be “disappoint”ed in others when you appear to agree with them? Please, be honest with yourself!

    Aron, I've seen your film. Good job! I'm going to youtube to watch the “update”.

  4. Mo:

    Since you don't know me, you obviously don't know what I prefer. You've apparently read too much into my statement. I never stated I didn't like my straight hair. I stated I was dissappointed that everyone prefers the straight style over my curly hair because I loved my curly style.

    Having relaxed hair that receives compliments is not a priviledge nor nothing new for me, my mother happens to have owned a hair salon my entire life. She has naturally curly hair herself.

    I will continue to wear curly hair when my curl pattern returns. I'll also get a mild relaxer when I need it rather than edure a sore scalp to prove a point or make a statement. That's not my purpose for wearing natural hair. I've never claimed to be a Nubian Queen and I've been on this earth too long not to know how to be honest with myself.

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