The subject of “good hair” wasn’t given much attention in my family growing up. Hair was as good as you made it and it didn’t matter whether your hair was naturally straight or softly curly. Grooming hair, however, was a big topic and, at times, an all day affair. I remember having my hair straightened with a pressing comb the night before school pictures; and getting it cornrowed in the summer so swimming could be fun rather than a hassle; and I also remember the irreparable damage caused by a monthly relaxer. When I grew out my natural hair I felt so free and empowered. And the first time I felt the wind blowing my short locks I couldn’t help feeling excited. I can mark every major period in my life with the hairstyle I was rocking at the time. Hair for me and probably every black woman on this planet has been a major part of life, which is why I’m excited to see Chris Rock’s “Good Hair,” which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.“Good Hair” is the answer to a question his daughter, Lola, asked him: “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” The comic was so bewildered by this question, not because he didn’t know how to answer, but because he wanted to know who had put that question into his daughter’s head. So he set out on a search to the ends of the earth and the depths of black culture to explore the idea of “good hair.” The result is an insightful and entertaining, yet serious, documentary that explores black hair culture. Rock and director Jeremy Stilson visit hair salons, barbershops, scientific labs, styling battles and even an Indian temple to examine the way black hairstyles affect the activities, wallets, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people. He speaks with several celebrities like Maya Angelou, Al Sharpton and Kerry Washington who candidly offer their stories and observations. What Rock discovers is that black hair is a $9 billion industry that doesn’t always benefit the black community and “little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside.” Remarkably, Rock presents “Good Hair” without any judgment. There is no right or wrong answer.
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