Chris Rock and Good Hair


A few months ago I decided to broach the subject of “Good Hair” here on this blog, as I sincerely believed that that concept was still very much a part of the psyche of African Americans and a measure of how we view and judge ourselves and our beauty. I must admit that initially, I was a bit skeptical about speaking publicly about good hair (it’s a very touchy subject), and sought the advice of friends who encouraged me to go for it.

Most recently there’s been a buzz about an upcoming film produced by comedian Chris Rock entitled “Good Hair”.   The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, to rave reviews.  I am happy for Chris.  But considering Chris grew up in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, I find it rather curious that Chris seems surprised about the “good hair” syndrome in our communities??? He states that his daughter came in crying to him one day, wanting to know why she didn’t have “good hair”; and this painful experience lead to the making of this film. Chris may actually be ignorant to the fact since he became rich and famous, like most other African American male celebrities, he probably has never since looked at any woman of color who didn’t have “good hair”.  I honestly believe  it may be an unconscious behavior, but I don’t think so.  You’re rich, you’re famous, it only stands to reason, you should have a woman with “good hair”!  I sincerely believe that’s the unfortunate mind-set.

That aside, I am very excited about the prospect of viewing this new film. I believe that it will be educational, insightful, and hopefully many will have the opportunity to reflect on what the ramifications of how the “good hair” syndrome has affected us. I’m hoping that it will lead to the healing of our distorted view of ourselves so that we can fully and finally embrace our natural selves.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by HyderabadChick on February 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Interesting that this term still exists. Guess some things will never change. 😦


  2. Yes, we are still dealing with this “good hair, bad hair; light skin vs. dark skin dynamic – this with no thanks to such so-called cultural harbingers as BET.

    Recently, I was talking to another locked sister-friend who was describing someone and said that the person had “good hair”. As my head swiveled around 360 degrees rivaling that of that poor possessed child in the Exorcist, I heard myself echo, “good hair”? What the hell is good hair? I asked her. She retorted with some kind of excuse that made me say, Uhm, okay!

    I have worn my hair natural for more than three decades and I tend to think that I have good hair. It’s strong and thick and I like to muse at times that it is the original hair. Yes, I too have bad hair days and sometimes it just gets on my nerves, but it’s still natural, strong and beautiful – my antennae to my political, cultural and spiritual soul. Currently I’m at a crossroads with my hair as it has been locked for almost 15 years – I am in need of a change but whatever that change is, I haven’t decided yet. It may be simple as cutting them all off and re-growing them – that’s probably what I’ll do. But I have digressed. Let me tell you what I think about Chris Rock’ and his foraged into understanding the “good hair” phenomenon.

    In April of 2008, MSNBC presented a major documentary called “Meeting David Wilson” about a young black man who traveled back to the home of his ancestors to meet his namesake and the progeny of his ancestor’s owner. After this so-called groundbreaking documentary, Brian Williams hosted a 90 minute “conversation” regarding race in America.

    So much about the program was bogus and extremely superficial from the guests experts on race – Mike Barnicle from the Boston Globe (a very nice man who is very fair in most of his assessments) to Malaak Rock, wife of Chris Rock. Mrs. Rock seemed to have been dismayed and utterly confused as to why her daughters’ would come home from school confused and saddened because they didn’t have the same pretty hair as their white classmates. She was troubled that they did not see the beauty in themselves and wondered in a sense ( out loud on prime time television) how they got there.

    Now, any Black woman worth a pinch of salt and the locks on her head must have at the period of Malaak’s statement said to themselves – “HOW DID SHE GET A CHAIR ON THIS SHOW AS AN EXPERT OF BLACK SELF-ESTEEM?” Either this woman is incredibly ignorant and/or naïve or maybe she’s just overcome with the fumes from her hairspray.

    There she sat in her designer outfit with at least 20 inches of weave in her very straightened hair wondering why her daughters didn’t like themselves. Honestly, I don’t even know why she was on the program. There was absolutely no value to her being there. There she sat throughout one segment after another while others – Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson to name a couple, received what was tantamount to sound bite air time. Obviously MSNBC was not at all serious about hearing the true voices from the trenches.

    Now I know that there are plenty of sisters with straightened hair who have intelligent and substantive ideologies and concepts – Malaak Rock was not one of them that night. Maybe Chris Rock after watching his wife sitting next to the big white elephant on the stage decided that he too needed to accept the responsibility to explore this very Black-centered dynamic. This film may very well be both a homage and a teaching tool to help his wife and other confused well-meaning and well-intentioned souls in understanding what their roles are in influencing their daughters’ self-esteem quotient about “good hair” and maybe their own as well.


    • Hi Zaykiyyah,

      Thank you for your insights and response. In the early days of Malaak Compton Rock setting up her foundation styleworks, I had the opportunity to interact with her on several occasions. I found her to be a genuinely friendly, gracious, and kind sister. However, to your point, I don’t believe that she was the best option to chair the program which featured Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson. I can think of a few sisters who wear their hair natural who would have been on my short list. These sisters include Melba Tolliver, first black female anchor on network news to sport an afro back in the mid ’70’s and was initially fired for doing so. Another of my choices would have been Toni Morrison or one of Khamit Kink’s long time clients, Historian and Professor, Annette Gordon Reed . Dr. Adelaine Sanford would have been another great choice or the incomparable Angela Davis or bell hooks! So as you stated, I guess MSNBC wasn’t that serious about hearing the true voices of those who could speak to this concern. Again, thank you for your insight.


  3. just the mere look of Chris Rock would give you laughs already _


  4. Posted by Yahya Sharif Shabaka on November 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Good Hair? Or is it different hair? Believe me,it is “difference” that is the attracting power,and saving grace.
    Little white girls want to be just like little black girls and the same with boys. The dfference here being that conscious white folk,nip it in the bud. They raise their little mollies not to give into their emotions and urges by identifiying with anything and anyone that is black. Remember that Elvis Preseley hung out in the hood among black folk to make his connection with the soul sounds and dance moves. Now for the busines at hand. This good hair syndrone that have plague us as a people for eons of years will never go away,as long as we identify with white culture,religion,god,names. We are so entrenched in who they are, that we totally lost ourselves to who we are or at least who we were.

    One of the serious problems with us as a people is that we have let those of us with the least knowledge of us, represent us. My thinking is….If you are willing to hold on to the slave masters name,and parade yourself around like you have found nirvana, yet you have all of this knowledge of yourself, then ask yourself,what exactly is wrong with this picture? How in the hell are you going to ever be free,wearing an abusers name as your identity? If you are going to hold on to that, then what else are you going to hold on too? Oh, you say “THAT’S JUST A NAME” Duh! Well the name is who you are. So why not hold on to all of his stereotypes of you?..Good hair is one of them. Change is a very slow process. It’s takes 12 to 13 years to reach puberty. It takes 7 years to break the worst of habits. So why in all of these years since we were on the plantation,are we still fighting with light skin,good hair,and acting white,instead of acting inteligent,which is not known to a particular ethic grouping? Willie Lynch said it best. “teach them my way, and they will continue it themselves”
    The Hon.Elijah Muhammad said that you have to have a thourough knowledge of self, for a full and complete freedom. Too many of us are not willing to entertain that there is a greater knowledge than that of the white man. If he does not approve of it, we think that it is worthless. Well the white man did not teach Elijah, so who taught you? And why with all of worthless degrees are we still not able to solve our own problems? We need to re-educated in the knowledge of self. Black studies is not the answer either. It is the Nation of Islam. peace yahya


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