Monday, October 12, 2009

Follow-Up to Good Hair: Still Being Mocked & Who Went To See It?

I know somebody actually paid money to see Chris Rock's "Good Hair" MOCKumentary. The question is how did it fare? Did your curiosity take over and you simply had to go? The pre-release buzz was so great that even some black men went to see it - which of course tells me there was some serious foolishness going on.

Rock came back to Oprah's couch table Friday so they could discuss the "angry" emails she received. Well there was legitimate critique of this work by numerous writers, bloggers, etc. with the discernment to see how Rock lacks the emotional maturity to cover a subject of this magnitude with the respect it requires. She was very selective in what she chose to read on air. I know she didn't read my email to Harpo that's for sure. The criticism isn't about the subject but about airing dysfunction publicly and who is telling our stories and why.

If you notice Oprah is mocking the very women who objected and seems to be falling into the guard dog, soldier for black men role as she attacks another black woman for not blindly supporting her "man". Some have suggested that Oprah is a wholly divested from the "dead" black community mentality but if her latest actions are any indication she's not removed from "save the black man" mode. From breaking bread with the unrepentant former drug dealer (who glorifies it in his latest song with Alicia Keys) Jay-Z, to her continued support for Rock, Tyler Perry & Steve Harvey I have to wonder who she's trying to reach out to. If it's to others still thinking in terms of race above all personal self-interest then her embracing of them should bring relief to those that have long complained about her "not doing enough". Which is code for telling and expecting black women to run to the rescue of everyone (uplifting black men especially) to their detriment while offering nothing in turn.

Where is her support for projects that don't mock black women or have us in "suffering and struggling through oppression" mode? She can do whatever she likes but this one-sided view displayed of black women really bothers me. Between that limited view and perhaps catering to an audience of those that don't have a problem with these men not offering anything of value to the collective, those of us who want to see compelling yet uplifting stories are left out.

So back to the subject at hand, Regina Kimbell's lawsuit was (predictably) tossed. **I was given wrong information and can happily report the case is a go!!** As it turns out when she allowed Rock and his producers to view her documentary My Nappy Roots they weren't required to sign a non-disclosure agreement beforehand and wouldn't do so afterwards. It makes proving a copyright violation that much more difficult. This hearing will determine whether the case can proceed so let's keep our fingers crossed. This is the first step of a long road and appeals process.

Even the most savvy businessperson can get the shaft in Hollywood. Black women especially, we must be reminded time and time again to know our surroundings and the learn the rules of engagement in various social and business settings. People whose interest lie in making money are not our automatic friends and a person with a recognizable name is not our automatic ally. It would've been a different set of circumstances had they violated an agreement though as some of you may know from previous experience a contract is no guarantee of compliance or protection. Still it's better to have something.

If you're curious about her project though you can view a 15 minute clip here. Password: nappy. There's also a Facebook fan page you can sign up for. If your interest lies in exploring the spectrum of choices black women make in determining how to style their hair AND you want a true cultural/historical analysis (which is absent from Rock's trickle-down version) then go purchase this documentary instead. I'd love to see Ms. Kimbell try to get a distribution deal as the subject is now of interest to a wider audience (i.e. white people). It's time to make lemonade out of lemons. I also think Rock has got enough negative publicity (rightfully so) that less people will actually pay to see him making an a** of himself than he thinks. Those free screenings were packed for a reason.

Now back to the show commentary. When Oprah reads the email (which got a cut off a bit but I'd heard enough) from the woman who discusses how black men like to run their hands through silky hair I felt slightly dirty for listening. This poor woman is stuck in DBR-Ville, wasting her time fighting for those black men who have long left to go pursue their own interests. Predictably I bet we could surmise her life has consisted of giving too much and not getting anything in return or worse continuing to be used by some man for sex/food/shelter but not getting any of the benefits of true companionship. She may even think she wouldn't be found appealing to men of other groups.

What I found interesting was how Rock again tried to dismiss the core issue of what she was expressing by making a joke out of it. He discusses how he used to constantly have his hands in the hair of the non-black women he's dated (and cheated on his wife with as has been rumored) in a different portion of the show but he wants to try to invalidate her complaint. No, black women should not be "competing" with white women over black men. Or any other woman for that matter. Yes, other discerning women do recognize the weakness amongst many black men who seems to delight in the presence of any non-black woman regardless of her caliber. They make it so obvious! There are far too many good men out there looking for their Mrs. Right. Yes...a wife NOT a wifey. It's up to us to discern caliber over trash and how to play to win. That's so much better than what this woman is experiencing.

The other segment has a professional woman discussing how she doesn't want to be open for ridicule or rudeness. Oprah then proceeds to tell whites that seeing this MOCKumentary doesn't give them license to make assumptions about how black women style their hair but the damage has already been done. That ship has sailed. Black women's bodies are already on display and many whites still think they have a right to invade us out of curiosity. As if we're zoo specimens. Also since we've been so callously displayed as degraded sex objects by black men via hip-hop, etc. our image has already taken a huge beating.

It was also very disingenuous for Rock to make some fake moral statement about how secrets destroy people in relation to his documentary. He simply refused to discuss the influence of patriarchy and the desire for certain black men to escape their blackness by rejecting black women as mates as the root cause of this pursuit of "good" hair. It really isn't about white people. For many it's still about finding appeal amongst black men (specifically African American) which is a wasted effort as far as I'm concerned.

**By the way I want to do my own documentary about a subject matter sensitive to some black men: the myth of the giant penis. I can be chased down the street by Vienna sausages because oh my goodness that would be so funny. It's all in "good" humor, right? I'll get a panel of women to discuss how there's no real size difference amongst men of all groups. I would expect the same level of understanding and hands-off approach afforded to Rock.
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Karen said...


No I haven't seen it and won't.

As for Oprah, her agenda in my opinion has NOTHING to do with AA BW. It is all about appealing to the white majority. This is another way for them to feel superior and to ensure that she keeps her audience. As a AA BW, she does not address "real" issues/concerns affecting AA BW. It is also clear that she at the end is a "Race Woman" as it serves BMs, which could be a diversion for her own "skeletons in the closet"...

Concerning non-disclosures in general, they are a must but they are only as good as the penalties that are associated with them otherwise they are not worth the paper they are printed on.

To those dear readers, if you have something to protect, then ensure that you have the right level of penalties that are painful and enforceable. A bit of money spent with a good lawyer to draw an NDA up will save much grief later. If that person/group sitting across from the table is not willing to sign before any significant information is exchanged, then run in the opposite direction.

Faith, your idea on the "Great Myth.." would be just the right treatment. I am sure all those that are so in favor of this documentary will run not walk to see yours, LOL.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Thanks for a bit of the legal info. I sense that if we present ourselves as innocent lambs we will be slaughtered. I'm thinking how Sophia Stewart got the Matrix and Terminator stories stolen out from under her.

goodness80 said...

Your posts are insightful, but we must remember that AAw need to vet everybody. Just because a brown face is in the limelight doesn't indicate that they have our best interest in mind. These people are getting paid to display our buffonary and self-hatred.

These are terrible times and people need scapegoats to make them feel good and important. AAws' troubles have always been used by others to let them know that they are still in control(not) and superior.

I believe we need to have watchwomen observing the actions of our so-called leaders and reporting it. But for those of us who see the storm clouds rising, begin to work with like-minded AAw and gather to safe havens. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Nope, didn't see it and won't see.

All of this recent (past few months) around hair is really slamming me in the face. Since moving to the DMV (Washington DC area), I have been told a few times that my hair will be an issue for me if I seek employment in the federal government. I am really in a sense of turmoil because I have beautiful waist-length locs that are well-maintained. You mean to tell me that I can expect to NOT climb the corporate ladder or interact with the public because of my HAIR? And my hair is supposed to contribute to my work I'm *really* struggling right now. And that frightens me.

kmblue's other profile said...

I haven't planned to see this movie from seeing pics of Rock's wife and her 100-lb weave to how Rock talked about women in Bigger and Blacker (I haven't seen his other two specials). I refuse to let someone use me crap and giggles, let alone for their advantage.

Rock doesn't support or love women like me so I don't support him.

As for the myth of the penis... I was considering doing that for my own blog. BM need to get over themselves and that myth because it's real sad.

Anonymous said...

I would go see the documentary That would be so funny! I'm so tired of the hijacking of our image. It's time ladies to attack by building our own media empires. that is what I'm doing ladies. It's the only way.

Aisha said...

"Since moving to the DMV (Washington DC area), I have been told a few times that my hair will be an issue for me if I seek employment in the federal government."

Sassy J, I am curious, did the people who told you that work for the government? Because I actually heard the opposite, that it's a lot less conservative than people think and locs, afros etc aren't seen as out of place. Plus, I know DC has a lot of (professional) naturals. Keep your head up!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

goodness80:Thanks for your feedback. I did mention the need to vet. There's been many women from other generations who've been warning us but the majority has not listened. Now it's time to prepare our own way.

SassyJ: Are you dealing with a lot of (backwards thinking) black people? I cannot believe locs would be a problem. I'm actually growing out my relaxed hair right now. I haven't decided what I'm going to do but I wondered about the reception our hair will have now.

KM: If you do a post about it let us know.

zindzhi: Thanks I'm serious about it. I just bought a new screenplay book to work on ideas.

Aisha: Thanks for your feedback. Do you have a list of salons or stylists? If there's that many natural hairstyles must be supported then.

kmblue's other profile said...

Post is here. :) I didn't get as in depth because, I am watching a baseball game here.

rikyrah said...

I went to see it today.

Some of it was sort of funny, but mostly, it made me sad.

Full disclosure - I went natural 5 years ago, and the entire Black beauty shop regimen is something that I absolutely do NOT miss.

The absolute worst parts for me, and they made me sad and mad at the same time

1. watching the CHILDREN, and I do mean CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 6, in the damn chair, getting perms on their hair. I was like - STOP THE VIOLENCE.

2. he had a group of teenage girls, about to go to college, one had braids, one was rocking the natural fro. It was ample, but I thought the young woman looked good. the others in the group, told the girl, to her face, that THEY wouldn't hire her, no matter what her resume said, even if she came dressed up uber-professional-like. a group of YOUNG BLACK WOMEN, telling another Black woman, that who you are isn't good enough. I just ached for the young woman there.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

KM: Thanks for sharing the blog post link!

Rikyrah: Wow I am not surprised at the black on black haterade going on as its been nurtured and allowed to fester unchallenged. It's sad though and only indicates why black women need to remove themselves from other toxic blacks.

Aisha said...

"Aisha: Thanks for your feedback. Do you have a list of salons or stylists? If there's that many natural hairstyles must be supported then."

Unfortunately, I don't have a list of salons. I don't live in the D.C area. It's just that I'm constantly hearing about all the naturals there as well as the more laidback attitude regarding hair in the fed gov't there. That really surprised me so I always remembered it. Sorry I couldn't be of more assistance.

How is the natural hair scene on the West Coast?

Qshukura said...


My best friend got a job with the Dept of Defense and she had shoulder length locs! Keep your head up, you are going to be fine!

freethinker said...

Faith, this is my perspective on black women's reaction to this film. Black women, have tried to declare to the world that they are impregnable, love everything about themselves, our curves, fat, features, ect, but this movie exposes some of our true actions and choices to change that very image we shout from the roof tops we are so proud of. The majority of black women have been exposed as insecure in their looks by this movie , and black women have always tried to protray their love for themselves regardless of what anyone else thought. My dear sisters this strong, nothing phases me, black women stereotype that we are susposed to live up to is a lie, and truth is we never were susposed to be it. Why does every other race of women get to hurt except you. Why are they allowed to be weak, and insecure and not you sometimes? We are sometimes and this movie shows a manifestation of our fatigue and compromise just to feel a little bit accepted just maybe once by a society that rejects us at every turn. This movie shows that the majority of you have internally oppressed yourselves and now believe all the lies you were told about yourself(nappy, ugly, unwanted). The only shame in this movie is that you have believed and assimilated into a machine that was ment to destroy you, your image and humanity, but you still try to appease it. That is the true shame, you sold yourself out. Every one knows it, this movie just took away the veil you had that told you everyone didn't know you sold out and to the extent in which you did(billions of dollars) Black Women you are beautiful why don't the majority of you believe that? Why don't choices instead voices declare black is beautiful anymore?

sungoddess said...

Alafia! Greetings! Hello!

I have written about this subject in my own blog over the years, and posted video to another important documentary about the Black hair INDUSTRY, who controls it, who profits from it, how they use and how these people exploit the poorest economic communities.

I really loved your comments in your post, particularly your linking to My Nappy Roots!

I posted in my blog on the other documentary about this, check it out:

Beauty Supply War

Anonymous said...

Aisha, Faith, and Qshukura: Thanks for the support, ladies! This is what is so confusing to me; my boss is an ex-Fed and she's said so a few times (in the times that we have "girl talk"), my aunt has been a little hesitant when we talk about my hair and she works for a federal agency. Whenever I'm downtown, I try to look for the Black women that are natural...I see them, but it is a small number.

I was at a good friend's home this past weekend having a "girl talk" session with 18 black women (it was fabulous, ya'll) and one of the women stated that she had recently taken out her locs and rockin' a blow out. She did say that when she will be going on interviews, her hair will be pressed. She found that her persona was intimidating to white people and she was learning to play their game/stoop to their level. This conversation was piggy-backing off of white women priviledge.

So, I'm seeing both sides of the issue. I have a few other people to ask that I know are working in federal government. Now, my boss did say that it may be more lax in local or state government, but fed government is still a little tight.

Now, I just moved to the DC area from California (home state) and my previous boss is a loc-ed sistah and many of the people in our area are. As a community based organization, I didn't feel the pressure; now it's corporate/government and I'm feeling it.

At the end of the day, I don't think I could cut my hair, all for the sake of a job. At this point in my life, I need to keep it sane and doing something as drastic as cutting off ALL of my hair would put me on "somebody" edge! lol

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Freethinker: I think you're missing the point. One is that black women need to put things in perspective as ALL women have both empowering and disempowering aspects in achieving femininity. It's all in how women think. Also we have certain assets unique to us at our disposal. The bottom line though is the negative attitudes passed down amongst women by as sourced by some men. As soon as that mentality is rejected - and it may have to be as an adult the better off many of us will be!

SassyJ: I'm likely to be relocating to DC as well so we should get in touch! As far as the desire amongst some BW to only see relaxed hair I'm seeing an almost equally vocal group opposed to creamy crack. Sometimes hair is just hair and shouldn't be so narrowly focused on with a particular value.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for your timely critique of Chris Rock's MOCKUMENTARY of BW's hair.
I totally agree with you that he and Oprah revealed a high level of contempt/disrespect towards BW by being dismissive of the concerns noted in that BW's email that was read on the show.

I don't trust MOST BM at this time when it comes to discussing matters of BW's beauty (or ANY other BW's issues) because MOST BM need to deal w/their OWN OBVIOUS DBR'ness, self hate, and MAJOR ANTI-BW HATRED. MOST BM lack the credibility to appropriately discuss ANY issue related to BW. Until MOST BW confront their OWN DBR issues and learn to be REAL MEN (by PROTECTING/PROVIDING for BW/Black children), they have NO BUSINESS PUBLICLY discussing BW's issues.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

laromana: Thanks for commenting and I look forward to your participation here. I really want us to be able to encourage each other and share insights that we can pass along. I know I greatly appreciate the efforts of other women who've paved the way in the blogosphere.

Unknown said...

In earnest, I hope someone does do a mockumentary about black men and the penis myth. I would LOVE that!!!

In regards to oprah, I must admit I am shocked by her behavior. As a BW who made it to the very top, I’ve always been an admirer and defender of oprah. I’m just very surprised at her tone during the entire show. Her tone was almost malicious like bw as a group, we’re almost brain dead and simply don’t ‘get’ it. Chris rock is trying to teach us something and we don’t want to listen. And of course, how stupid are we to even think that white women think about us and what we do with our hair….

maybe that was not her intent but that’s how it definitely came off to me. I guess since she has long hair, she feels like she’s excempt but yall, I just can’t believe oprah and the way she behaved

Anonymous said...

YAY! Yes, let's keep in touch! That's exciting! Here's my email address

Jazine said...

Hi Faith,

If you're looking for salons in the DC area, here is a link to The Coil Review-a natural haircare e-magazine. The link below is a list of natural hair care salons in DC and throughout the country.

I'm not HTML savvy to make the link work-afraid you're going to have to copy and paste.

Anonymous said...

@ Mary

I can. I think Oprah has been on the nutcase train for minute now.

For me it started when I asked a friend why do all the characters she portrays in her films have bad teeth and sound like slaves?

I was a kid then, but I noticed. I agree that she is enamored with the BW is downtrodden image.

I also think she is not very healed when it comes to her sexual abuse/sexual issues and I have sensed some intense body hatred from her on a few shows.

I also didn't like how she ripped James Frey.

@ Faith
You know whats good. Oprah will never get to the heart of the matter.

And when you do the doc on the BM penis size myth - throw in a scene about BM BMWs [bodies made wrong]: why DDs, stretch marks, birther hips, and pregnancy bellies are not cute on a naked man.