I’ve had a press & curl, box braids, a relaxer, a texturizer, an afro, Bantu-knots and now I’m rocking long cornrows– $20 synthetic hair in the back and real afro-kinky hair for bangs. I know about Black hair– the good, the bad and the ugly. My hair has been two inches short and about 10 inches at its longest. I cut it, tease it, straighten it, extend it and twist it. For me hair is adventure and accessory, but clearly I may be in the minority after reading and hearing the rage from Black women over Good Hair.
Last week I went to see Chris Rock’s documedy for myself and found it funny, insightful, superficial and disturbing all at once. It was already clear to me from watching his segment with Oprah that Chris’ issues with Black women and our hair are kinda deep. His amazement and delight with being able to run through Ms. Winfrey’s weave-free coif was akin to my seven-year old niece’s fascination when combing the silky strands of her Dora doll or better yet, like this white woman’s curiosity with my long knotty dreadlocks five years ago. Clearly Chris needs to get out of Alpine a lil’ more often. But that’s Chris Rock’s shtick: In-the-pocket-going-outta-bounds. He’s totally hilarious one minute then forgets himself (and his audience) and tends to go way left. You do remember what he said about Michelle Obama in Kill The Messenger?
I don’t know what people expected from Chris Rock’s gander at why some Black women spend thousands of dollars on weaves and have to have the “creamy crack” every four weeks. Nah, I take that back. I do know what they expected. Black women who say that Chris Rock has made a mockery of Black women, has disparaged the Black race and is celebrating rape, clearly must have forgotten that Chris Rock is the same Negro whose most memorable, if not outstanding, role in Black Americana is playing a crackhead named Pookie. Chris Rock is no Dick Gregory, heesh he ain’t even as political as Ellen DeGeneres and she’s a judge on American Idol. Going in to see the movie I thought Pookie’s gonna separate the Yaki-Yaki from the Afro-Kinky and I hope it’ll be funny. I was not looking for enlightenment, inspiration, empowerment or exegesis. And before I continue, let me share that when I was eight, maybe even nine years old I would take my Baby Alive mint green baby blankey and tie it around my head and pretend I was Cher, Irene Cara or whoever had the long good-hair ponytail at the moment. So I know first hand about the desire and the beauty standards that oppress and confused Chris Rock’s daughters and so many young Black girls the world over, but I also know not to get my medical prescriptions filled at the local Laundromat. I understand there is a history of slavery, Black Power movements and discrimination that has defined Black (self) love, but never did I presume Chris Rock would be all bell hooks on that subject. And quiet as it’s kept I did not want him to go there. Just like I don’t want Tyler Perry to go there with “For Colored Girls”. Comedians need to stay in their lane. And yeah, I know, white people are buying tix to see Good Hair and now our bidness is on the streets. SO WHAT?!? Our bidness been on the street. Have you seen Frankie & Neffe or Meet The Browns? Guess what? More non-Blacks are watching these Stepin Fetchit scenarios of Black life than viewing Good Hair. Believe that and be mad at that!
3 Reasons (if you must) Be Mad at Good Hair:
1.) For not interviewing his wife Malaak who wears a major weave or his daughters whose images are throughout the doc. Let’s see and hear from your original inspirations.
2.) For those way too long scenes in the barbershop.
3.) For wasting so much film and my precious time on the uber boring, coon-atrics of the Bronner Brothers Hair Show.
3 Reasons To Not Be Mad:
1.) We already know this is good hair!!! (Thanks dream!)
2.) For his look at the hair trade in India and the scenes of girls getting their waist length hair shaved off as a sacrifice to God.
3.) If you weren’t outraged at Ken Burns’ foray into jazz– a quintessential Black art form, then lay off of Pookie. If it’s intolerable for a man to talk about woman’s hair, then surely it must be just as reprehensible for a white man to discuss Coltrane. Sounds kinda ridiculous? It kinda is.