Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good hair

In light of the brief discussion the other about all that unresolved intraracial tension between Nino Brown and Kareem Akbar, I was reminded of this extremely uncomfortable scene from one of my favorite movies:

This was one of the most interesting - and colorful - takes on the complexity of color issues that persist in the colored folks community. Even when we're joking about beef, we're really not.

It reminds me of a passage from the late Ralph Wiley's first book of essays, "Why Black People Tend to Shout":
People of African descent here in America took a cue from more nearby sources and called their hair "bad" and "nappy." Eventually, hair had different, unofficial but quite relevant "grades," going all the way over to so-called absolutely straight hair ...

...but somehow - and you can check someone in marketing on this - straight hair ended up being called "good hair," and even "Nearer My God to Thee" hair. And, sure enough, if you went to the nearest church, temple or cathedral, usually there was the straight-haired Jesus in the stained glass, looking up beatifically, not needing so much as a single shot of Sta-Sof-Fro.

Eh, I'm sure I've been infected in some similar way, as much as I've tried to fight it. I had heard of "good hair" long before I ever considered whether or not my hair met that standard - and for the record, to me, good hair is the hair that covers your head.

I'm fortunate that I escaped childhood - and high school and college - with enough confidence to amuse myself at the mere mention of the topic. I know from personal experience, everyone else ain't so lucky. The quest for "good hair" has created a billion-dollar black hair care business and millions of insecurities.

Anyway, the clip from "School Daze" reminded me that I'm a little late to the party in mentioning this ... but Chris Rock is set to release a documentary dubbed "Good Hair." I predict lots of awkward moments and uncomfortable laughter. Like a lot of his best work.

Here's a magazine interview with Rock about the film and here's another, this one for the cameras.

No comments: