On the latest episode of his show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver tackled the issue of Black hair, something that some white people, for some reason, seem to have a lot of problems with.
Back in 2009, comedian Chris Rock made a documentary about this topic titled Good Hair that I reviewed here. He was spurred to investigate this question when one of his very young daughters came to him one day and asked him why she did not have ‘good’ hair. As I learned later, while his documentary sought to destigmatize natural hair, it was not universally acclaimed within the black community, especially by black women. As Alynda Wheat writes, Rock himself seemed to have succumbed to stereotypical thinking.
Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, opened Friday to mixed, but frequently positive, reviews. I’m going to take the painful stance of suggesting that’s because there aren’t a lot of black women in the film reviewing community. Good Hair is often funny, fascinating, and raises a few key ideas. What it doesn’t do is offer a cogent, relevant analysis of why black women relax their hair or wear hair extensions — which was supposed to have been the point.
Nearly everyone in Chris Rock’s movie seems to agree on a few critical ideas (that can happen when you limit your sample). Frankly, as a black woman, I sat through Good Hair with one dominant thought: Who are these people? Their opinions rarely represented my own, or those of anyone I know. I am but one voice in this vast, complicated community, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t say something.
My feeling is that what people of any race or gender do with their own hair is their own damn business and they should not be subjected to other people questioning their motives and or sitting in judgment on them.