This past weekend I took a break from the monotony of the “ivory tower”. I threw down my books and pushed aside my assignments so I could be entertained. My friends and I decided that with midterms rapidly approaching we needed a few good laughs to maintain our sanity, so we decided to go see Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair”. As much as we all appreciate thought provoking discussion, we weren’t looking to have our minds opened by some groundbreaking film. We were merely looking to laugh at “Pookie” from New Jack City, “MC Gusto” from CB4, and “Mays Gilliam” from Head of State. Heck, for $10 Chris Rock better had better given me stomach pains from laughing so hard.
By the end of the movie I was happily disappointed. I was happy because Chris Rock helped shed light on a very thorny issue pervasive in the Black community. Yet, disappointed in myself for underestimating his ability to brilliantly address such a meaty issue. I’m not going to give a synopsis of the film; you can google it if you really want to know what it’s all about. However, I will give you my reactions.
1. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock for the past 19 years, but I was completely unaware that some Black women spend in excess of $1,000 on weaves. What kind of message does that send to little Black girls? Are we telling them that in order to be pretty you must be synthetic, because clearly the hair you have doesn’t meet society’s standard of beauty. How can you teach your daughter fiscal responsibility if you are spending more on your head than you are on groceries and bills? Obviously there are some women out there who can spend $5,000 on a new hair-do and be fine, but for the majority of Black women that is not the case.
2. Who new hair relaxers were made with sodium hydroxide or ammonium thioglycolate? I didn’t. I suspect that I’m not alone either. It’s crazy that people endure so much pain to have more manageable or “attractive” hair. Maybe it burns for a reason. Everyday women and men endure scalp irritation and scarring so they can have slick backs like Rev. Al or a flowing mane like Soledad O’Brien. I guess doing Black hair is somewhat like a chemistry project.
3. I never knew where the actual hair in weaves came from until this movie. I guess I really had no reason for knowing. When I found out that my cousin’s ponytail is probably from India I wasn’t shocked. I knew it didn’t come from Africa. But learning why so many Indians freely give up their hair was interesting. It is a Hindu ritual to shave your head and offer hair to God as an act of humility and sacrifice. Wow they gave it up for free and some women spend thousands of dollars on it.
4. Although the film was enlightening, it did have its shortcomings. For instance, Chris Rock didn’t really focus on Black women who choose to go natural or stay natural. It would have been interesting to compare the career mobility of Black women with natural hair vs. women with straightened or relaxed hair.