Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chris' Good Hair: Removing of black womens skirts...

I finally got to see Good Hair.

I have been waiting, not anxiously, but with trepidation for its (early) release this week in NYC. I enjoyed watching the massive press junket, The View, his friend 'the Oprah' etc. He was funny and didn't awkwardly avoid the race conversation inherent in the subject. There was a great moment when he had to settle a pseudo-argument between Whoopi and Barbara about whether black women relax their hair because they are trying to be European or not...he cleverly agreed with both - and the voices in his film do the same.

So the film...

There were these odd meta-moments in my head when I wanted to view the film from the eyes and minds of the various (numerous) white and Asian folks (unattended by their blacks no less!) that were in attendance. But the film was such an internal letter to black women that I couldn’t keep that lens on as I normally do -- my de-facto feminist defender warrior who is always prepared, always ready and always wary of these topics was enjoying the film. Smile.

There were so many moments when I heard the black women at the back of theatre, at the front, and next to me laugh in unison and recognition (embarrassment?) at the common lived experiences {the weave tumbleweed scurrying down 125th street). We shook our collective heads at learning the affects of Sodium Glycolate on our little girl's hair, our scalps and hair follicles and especially at the transparent soda can accompanied by the white scientist's taken back that there was a group of people who actual applied this toxin to their scalps.

There was a super uncomfortable moment when Chris postulated (a pseudo joke) that the reason we, blacks, lack intimacy in our relationships is because our men can't touch our hair... (wait wait there is more)

The barbershop men then talked about how that leads, some of them, to prefer white women, who are more free and willing to do more things...

I know (eyebrow raised, head cocked, heart hurt). To be fair, there was a young man at the back of the group of old, unattractive and overweight men who disagreed with them quite energetically. I haven’t digested that particular issue as of yet. You guys know I’m a forest, not the trees, person.

As I sat on the local A train, headed home after saying bye to my home girl, I finally could digest this odd moment from the live Friday Oprah show. There was a youngish woman in a pretty blue suit that stood up and said that she was angry at Chris for telling our secrets. Chris told her that he was not R. Kelly and had never been known to disrespect anyone. Then he stated a common Oprahism – secrets will rot your soul. That this, the money we spent, the attention we pay, the fakery for beauty, the negative affect on the self-esteem of his daughter, needs to be brought to the forefront so……well, upon reflection I realized, he didn’t say what we should do now that it was out there – and in that lack of a completed purpose/thought lies the rub.

The point:

Chris was wrong for making this movie. There is rule in the Gay community, of which I have been an ally to even before I knew any Gay people because of this very issue*; the rule is that you do not out a member – ever. Revelation is a personal choice that does have serious consequences. This means that even though the movie was chock full of black women telling secrets about hair – they were sharing ALL of our secrets not just their own and thus should not have made the decision to OUT all of us – especially from their positions of power and economic freedom**.

Let’s make this more personal. I live with white people now and I am super self-conscious about revealing my hair shit. When I wash my hair I still make extra sure not to leave my nappy curling balls of hair for anyone to see. I tried to take my braids out in peace and had to force my self to stay put when my white male roommate came home early – but inside I was mortified. The last thing I ever wanted was to allow the eyes of the world to glaze on the half braided scalps of black women trying to fit in to keep their jobs, be more attractive to men who prioritize the long and silky or trying to cover their bald and alopecia affected scalps.

Why does the world continue to stare under our skirts? Why must we always be the "Venus Hottentot" (for info see end of para) glazed at by the 'other' in a museum? Chris, innocently I think, pulled away our skirts and ‘outted’ us without our permission and for what purpose?

Yes Chris, secrets should be brought to the forefront but this wasn’t your secret to tell. It was ours and you have done badly. Bad Chris.

* interesting quotes…
K. Steffans – I don’t know how the average woman pays for these
Salt – I spend 200,000 a year
Rock – You have a weave layaway plan!!!

I’m an ally because people who are consenting adults can do what they like, it is a PERSONAL activity that hurts no one and is none of governments business. Also because we have separation of church and state and my Christianity should not run your life – that’s just frickin logical you know???