Good Hair gets to roots of black community's image issues (1)

I learned more from Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair than I did from all the other films and plays I’ve seen about African-American beauty parlors and barbershops put together. As a white guy with straight hair (and seemingly less of it every day), subjects like weaves and relaxers tend to be terra incognita. Even black audiences might view African-American hairstyle issues to be a narrow, niche subject for a full-length nonfiction film. Neverthless, narrator Chris Rock provides cutting commentary that reveals some surprisingly deep sociological roots.

Rock explains that his interest in hair issues originated with his two young daughters, particularly when one asked him, “Why don’t I have good hair?” “Good hair” turns out to be a loaded expression, referring in this context to straight “European” hair rather than kinky “black” hair, deemed as unmanageable in salons and unfashionable on magazine covers. Rock’s frequently snarky commentary suggests that African-Americans sacrifice too much of their time, money and well-being in the attempt to live up to a white ideal.

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(Image courtesy Roadside Attractions)