Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Hair - Some Feelings

Yesterday I went with my partner to see "Good Hair", Chris Rock's new film about Black Women and their hair. As I expected the relatively small audience was predominantly Black and mixed race couples (such as we are). A "Black Movie" rarely draws an audience of more than token White People (while "White Movies" draw Blacks, Whites and others.

Blacks are forced to live in a "White World" much of their lives, but we, White People, when rarely aware of "Black (and other) Worlds", even less commonly choose to learn of and be a part of these "different" worlds.

Summarizing the movie is both easy and difficult. Blacks, with 12% of the population, are 80% of the U.S. hair products market. Korean-Americans own much of the basic market where giant companies like Revlon do not dominate - besides the Black owned hair salons (and for Black men the barber shops) which are a very important social (and significant) part of Black America.

The movie focused significantly on "relaxers" which straighten Black hair and hair extenders, which are sewn and otherwise connected into many Black women's hair. The natural hair added comes predominantly from India. Women spend a minimum of $1000 and sometimes much more for the extenders. Where women have extenders they require significant maintenance in salons and keeping one's hair dry (e.g. no swimming with one's head under water or carefree "sexy" showers with men or even having one's hair touched by one's lover or others - as it may damage either the extender or how one's head looks.)

The movie was both humorous and sobering! My partner focuses significantly energy on her hair and her general appearance as most Black women do. This has been an education for me since we met nearly 7 1/2 years ago. I think of the $80 - every 4-6 weeks and time spent as "different" at best. Her involvement in this culture is far, far less than many women's involvement.

For me the deeper issues brought up in the movie are far more important! It is so sad that "kinky" - "natural" hair is to Be Avoided and "Ugly"(except where fashionably kept in braids and similar) and Straight (e.g. "White") hair is "Beautiful". It is tragic that this is both a historic fact and Very Important today!

It is sad to me that Hair and general appearance can be So Important to so many people. Oft times hair can be equally or even (in a few instances) be more important than food, shelter, education and other things that seem Much More Important to me. I seriously wonder how we can possibly conquer serious ills in our world such as: Poverty, Militarism, Domestic Violence, Homophobia. Such issues often are seen (or hidden) in contrast to the more steady, visible importance of the surface perspectives put forth by popular musicians, actors/actresses, models and others around us.

I feel "alone" and "different" in finding things such as the beautiful fall colors of the trees and our nearby creek's bubbly nature far more beautiful and important than much of popular culture. I Know that I am a dinosaur lost in a world where I-Phones and Video Games are a foreign, distant mirage and the Lindsay Lohans/Johnny Depps/Beyonces/Michael Jacksons are generally mere names I hear or don't hear.



Aron Ranen said...
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