by Allison Horton
It all started when Chris Rock’s then five-year-old daughter asked him, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”
The question set the comedian on a path to learn more about the importance African American women place on their hair, specifically what they will go through to have straight or relaxed hair. The result is “Good Hair,” an entertaining documentary opening Oct. 23 that takes a look at how women achieve that goal. From visiting beauty shops where perms are applied to traveling to India to see how weaves are created, Rock leaves no stone unturned in his quest.
He also visited the famed Bronner Bros. Hair Show, an annual event in Atlanta with an audience of nearly 100,000, that features the best hair stylists competing to be named tops in the industry and also highlights a wide spectrum of African American hair care products.
According to the film, the $9 billion African American hair care industry only has four Black manufacturers and is dominated by Asian and Indian suppliers, which Rev. Al Sharpton called “economic retardation” by the Black community willing to accept buying their hair care products from other races rather than their own.
During a recent sojourn in Chicago to promote the film, Rock said he wasn’t surprised by this monetary occurrence in the Black community.
“It is just not hair,” he said. “It is pretty much anything that we are in. Part of it is, you could say, is the flaw in Dr. King’s plan. We fought to be a part of something, when we probably should have been fighting to have our own something.
“That just permeates into all business,” Rock continued. “The music business, there’s no Black record companies. You can look at the NBA and go ‘There’s 30 teams, there’s not three Black people owning a team.’ We want to be down so bad that we don’t form our own thing or hold onto our own thing even when we have it.”
What did surprise the comedian was how much Black women were willing to spend on their hair. The movie features several well-known stars such as Nia Long, Raven Symone, Lauren London, Salt ‘n Pepa and Eve all sharing their love for extensions and weaves, which can be as much as $5,000. Other personalities such as Maya Angelou, Ice-T and comedian Paul Mooney also shared their views.
“You know Beyonce spends $5,000 to get ready for the Grammys,” Rock said. “You didn’t know KeKe spends $5,000 to work at AT&T [or] just to go see the new Tyler Perry movie. That is a bit much for KeKe that makes $38,000 a year, so that shocked me.”
So what advice will Rock give his daughter when she is old enough to style her own hair?
“It is a rite of passage,” he said. “She has to go to Mecca herself.”