“Good Hair”on DVD – Does Not Get to The Root of the Problem

April 17, 2010

I just finished watching Good Hair for about the third time. This Chris Rock film is the first and only documentary of which I am aware of that deals exclusively with issues related to African American women.  However, I was struck by the lack of alternatives to weaves presented in the film.  How about a nice big Jill Scott fro’ or some Lauren Hill dreadlocks? 

My favorite part is Paul Mooney in an Afro wig.  He says:  “Relaxers make everybody relaxed, and nappy makes white people unhappy”.

It’s one of the few statements in the movie that addresses WHY we may feel the need to conceal our natural hair.  Most of the other parts of the movie focus on the business aspects of Black hair care and the process of getting a weave.  There is a scene where he tries to sell Black hair but is unable to. However, he doesn’t explore why he is unable to sell it.  He never articulates a belief about why it’s a problem, as the shopkeepers tell him “nobody wants that!”, in reference to the Black hair. 

The answer he gives his children at the end about “What is Good Hair?” never really gets answered, but the excessive time he spends on hair relaxers and weaves leads one to believe that  straight hair is good, and other options not so good.   He said he will tell his girls that it is not as important what’s on your head than what is in it.  Well of course this is true.  However, our beliefs about a very fundamental aspect of who we are, our hair, is part of what is in our heads. 

Bottom line:  It is great to have options with our hair.  I respect all the creative minds that have gotten me personally through the past years with braids, dreadlocks, relaxers, and “augmentations”.  At times those were very personal relationships. I respect and applaud all the businesses that have developed to provide us with options. 

However, if you had to deal with your hair in its natural state would this be a problem for you?  And if so, why? What if your job were not an issue? Let’s get to the root of the problem.  Let’s find out what is really “good hair” and why.  If it turns out that most of us have “bad hair’ then what’s so bad about it?  I’m sure Chris Rock’s kids would appreciate a real answer.

Black women, take this poll and send it to your friends!

6 Responses to ““Good Hair”on DVD – Does Not Get to The Root of the Problem”

  1. yoy50 said

    Hi MIP! I knew I liked your style from the start! 🙂

    There was a documentary that came out some years ago called “Unbeweavable”. (here’s part 1 to the documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l2nvf-gDug (it was uploaded on youtube in 2007 but I think it came out before that year– this documentary was profiled on Queen Latifah’s talk show so I’m sure it came out long before 2007). I can’t say if Chris Rock stole the idea, but it’s a subject that has been done before. His film did not do justice to the subject, IMO (although it has it’s laughs– loved Paul Mooney in the film).

    I personally think that we sisters should embrace our natural coils more because real men certainly do. I stopped relaxing my hair in 2003 (wow– I just thought about how long ago it’s been) and I’m so glad I did. And when thinking in terms of dollars– we have created billions annually that takes those dollars out of our communities. Yeah, sisters go to black owned salons to get these weaves, but the industry that supplies this fake hair is not black owned at all– we are their primary targeted group but only a few (maybe two black owned companies) are making the big bucks from it (unlike the suppliers who have completely shut potential black owners out). When I think about how much money I’ve spent on relaxers (I’ve never done or liked weaves), I could have paid for 3 kids college education over the course of my life. I did a piece called “To Weave or Not to Weave” when I first started blogging because I think it’s a discussion that should be had often.

    One of the reason I have embraced being natural– no chemicals, dyes and especially no weaves is because the time in the salons was simply unreasonable along with the cost. I’ve always been gifted with doing my own hair (started doing my own hair when I was 8 or 9), but I did start going to a salon at the age of 25– I’m in my late forties now. Another thing that bugs me about the weave phenomenon is that Black women love to proclaim how real we are– really(?), how can be ‘real’ when our hair is fake? The problem does have deeper roots indeed. To me, it’s a reflection of our self-hatred (just like the dark/light skin issue).

    3 areas that are problems;

    1) women love to refer to our own hair as ‘nappy’– I prefer hair, just hair.

    2) our mothers (and grandmothers) only knew what they were taught about our hair (not their faults), but I’ve discovered in my natural hair journey that the way we wash our hair is completely wrong. We actually don’t have to deal with tangles at all– it’s how we wash that defines that! I’ve been blessed (genetically) to have a lot of hair that grows, but in its’ natural state (when cared for properly) my hair grows much faster, longer and healthier than even I thought possible.

    3) brothers need to get over the long hair syndrome– some of us just have shorter hair, naturally. In the words of India Arie “I Am Not My Hair”.

    We have a long road ahead of us on this subject, no doubt. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one discussing this. VERY refreshing! Thanks, MIP– GREAT POST!

  2. YOY! Thank you yet again for a great response, and for that link to the Unbeweavable documantary. Already, I can see it has so much more to say than the Chris Rock doc. I am looking forward to reviewing the whole thing.

    A friend is trying to put together a movie night where we will watch “Good Hair” and discuss it. So far it seems like people are declining. Maybe they have valid excuses. But, I think we are afraid to have honest conversations about these issues. I think it’s a painful subject for some.

    But if we do not confront these issues, how will we ever feel comfortable in our own bodies and truly beautiful.

    You are so right we have a long way to go. You and me, we will keep pushing on, my kindred spirit.

  3. yoy50 said

    Hi MIP! You know… I’m saddens me to see that no one else has commented on this great topic. Why are we so afraid to peel back the layers, get ‘down and dirty’ and address a real issue? (Rhetorical of course.)

    Well hey, it’s good to know that we are not alone on this subject– kindred spirits indeed, lady! 😉

    You MUST post more often too ’cause this is good stuff you’re writing about!! A suggestion topic (if I may and if it’s not already been done)– Blacks seeking “mental help”… why in the world are we so shy about it? We are ALL going through the same things as far as I know. And some of us do need a little help (it does help to ‘talk it out’ with an impartial PROFESSIONAL). It’s not a sign of weakness– to the contrary, it actually displays strength!


    P.S. Hope “movie night” happens– and you can share “Unbeweavable” with your friends too. It’s a short documentary and mostly men giving their input which is invaluable (and very funny) in this film.

    • Hey YOY!!! Thank you so much for the feedback and support. I have several topics I am going to try to cover in the next few weeks.

      Actually, Black folks seeking mental health is one of those topics, I had already started a draft.

      There are truly so many topics to cover. And so little time. I had been crazy busy over the past two weeks but some time seems to be opening up so I can get some more stuff out there.

      Thanks again. And always look forward to your blogs too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I will let you know how it turns out with the movie night and discussion.

      • We had our movie night. I would say fewer than half the expected number of people showed up. However, it was a spirited group and we had fun. Honestly, I think there was trepidation about going too indepthly about these issues. I did not want to be “that person” cramming stuff people don’t wanna hear down their throats. It’s crazy. It’s our hair and we don’t feel comfortable talking about it. But you know what? It was a start and you gotta start somewhere.

        I read this blog by a South African young man about the movie. I though he had some interesting things to say. http://unfitmind.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/what-is-good-hair/

  4. My problem with Chris Rock’s doc about Black women and hair is that it falls short of making it plain that the issue of Black hair is very much a political issue.

    Where that documentary falls short, Zina Saro-Wiwa picks it up. This is a quite beautiful illustration of a Black woman transitioning from processed to natural hair. Check it out at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/opinion/black-women-and-natural-hair

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: