This is an excerpt from my blog: doubledoseofdoctor.blogspot.com
I was watching Oprah today and Chris Rock was on talking about his new movie “Good Hair”. Some of Oprah’s viewers were offended by Chris’ movie and I have to say that I agree with them. I felt like Oprah and Chris Rock tried to simplify the cultural hair issues and put a little band aid over the gaping wound of inequality that exists by pointing out that a lot of white people dye their hair.
The African American hair phenomenon is so much more than a vanity issue, though. However, if you want to talk about vanity, I can say that Black people are constantly bombarded with imagery that says that long flowing hair is what is beautiful, accepted and even healthy. It is a tough pill for Black people to swallow when it is not in most of their hair’s nature to act this way. I feel that Chris Rock was irresponsible in the making of this “documentary” (although I haven’t seen it). Not without good intentions (he, himself, said that his own daughter came home crying that she did not like her hair) his film seems to make light of a controversial topic which many women feel uncomfortable discussing with people of other races. The one good thing about the movie is that it got women talking. The bad thing about the movie is that it got women talking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad that they are talking. It’s what they are talking about that is bothering me.
Going back to the attempt at equity by pointing out White women dye their hair. It’s one thing to dye your hair, it’s another thing to take another person’t hair and put it in your own head to (presumably) mask what your own hair looks like. This is the shame that many Black women have to suffer through. Many of them are ashamed of their own hair. I’m not saying we all are, but a lot of us are. Calling each other things like “nappy”, “slave”, etc. The name of the movie itself (‘good hair’) comes from a term that we use for the hair many of us feel to be superior.
I think the Oprah viewers that complained about Chris Rock were African American women who saw their own fears and insecurities made a mockery of for the entire nation to see. Like I said, this is not something most African American women want to discuss with people of other races, and now for someone to broadcast it to the world in the most public way, I feel is a bit insensitive. And the fears of these women are real. As an African American woman who has worn her hair natural in the presence of a multi-cultural crowd, I have experienced the stares and awkward questions that come along with it.
Sure, some of the whites or Asians will tell you how “cool” your hair is, but that is very little consolation for all the pain we have to go through in trying to “tame the beast”. Painful combing, sitting still to have it braided for hours, hot combing and/or flat ironing it and suffering the occasional scalp burn.
So, forgive us if we are a little sensitive about the issue.