Good and Bad, See If I Care, Good and Bad Hair

“Any hair is good hair as long it covers my head.”
Mama Uppity

That’s a scene from the cult classic Spike Lee Joint “School Daze” as Lee grapples with the issues of young, at the time Afro-Americans who were in college.  The movie was set at the fictional Mission College in some remote Alabama or Georgia town filmed on location at the newly created Atlanta University Center where Clark University got it’s new namesake along with other historically black colleges of Morris Brown, Morehouse and Spelman.  And let the record show, the topic of light skinned vs. dark skinned and straight hair vs. nappy hair is age old and of course is still a big topic amongst our people.

Frankly, I blame Madame C.J. Walker.

Yeah, I said it.  I blame her!

No, she didn’t “invent the perm” as we know it, nor did she invent the hot comb either, but she most certainly popularized it.  She used the straightening comb in conjunction with her hair care products.  Some sources say she even faced criticism at the time, and she most certainly does from me today.

Let me say right now, I’m neither for or against natural hair on women or for or against processed hair on women.  What I am against is the polarization that occurs as a result of it.  Some women truly have forgotten their hair texture and what it really looks like underneath all that weave, sew-ins, wigs and all manner of colors and flips and highlights and plaits and whatever else.  While I understand it’s a business in our community and we sorely need every kind we can get our hands on, but isn’t it interesting how much money a woman drops at a beauty salon that could go to something else?  I mean, a man is giving away no more than $20 a week on a haircut.  A woman has to get her toes, her hands, her hair and not to mention how much some makeup may cost.

For what?

To prove to men that they look good?

If nothing else natural hair takes as much time and energy to make it look well, or else you end up looking like Rasputia without her wig on.

I say that to say, I hope Chris Rock’s new mockumentary does the black community well.  He’s releasing this movie called “Good Hair” that’s, well, all about black hair and doing some on the street interviews–namely barber and beautyshop banter.  And from the trailer below, he’s having some bombshell celebs that are going to be doing some interviews concerning their hair.

Even in the clip, there’s always this need for us to have the “wet out of the pool look.”  Our good friend Yung Berg made it quite plain for us last year  with the “pool test.”  He was under the belief that

…I don’t really like dark butts too much… It’s rare that I do dark butts. Like really rare… It’s like, no darker than me. No darker than me. I love the pool test…. If you can be like ‘Yo, baby. I met you in the club. Let’s go back to my house. Jump in the pool exactly like you are.’–And you don’t come looking better wet than you were before you got in the pool then that’s not a good look.”

And fact of the matter, for the rest of us darker blacks and the ones with the less than straight hair, it’s rather easy to develop a sense of jealousy for the others.  It’s a color/hair complex.  I went through it myself when I was about in 6th grade through about 9th grade and high school and just grew out of it.  But, when you flip on the television and you see the number of darker men and women models, anchoring the news or what not, you kinda put two and two together and figure out what the deal is.

And the same goes for men.

We can get away with it differently, but still, women just fawn over the light-skinned pretty boy with the curly hair or with the green eyes and the rest of us are just like “Damn! What the hell’s wrong with me.”  And then I remember my days when I had my long hair (yes, I had corn rows people) that some girls were like “ooooh, you got good hair” and I was saying to myself, “This is what they call good hair?”  And I realized that anything that wasn’t tight and nappy was considered “good hair.”  Usually when the girls said something I’d respond with the quote from Mama Uppity.

So, when I was randomly perusing Youtube last night and came across the following clip, you have to understand how far my heart sank when I heard a preacher actually say what he said from the pulpit.  Fast forward to minute 3:40

Should I excuse him because he’s COGIC?

Whatever the case is, that’s just a hot mess on all levels.

Press out the kinks?  Straighten out the kitchen.  Chemical press–known as a process.  Have a super process for the hair that was real kinky.

I’m done.

And them folks was going in offa that.


I just hope we can get past this.  Like, I’m not convinced that this is a hard issue to deal with.  I mean tackling parents not raising their kids properly or teenage pregnancy seems a bit tougher for me, but this one, this shoulda been done and over with in the 1960s.  But clearly it’s not.

Oh well, see if I care, good and bad hair.

What are your reactions to Chris Rock’s mockumentary?   Similarly, what are your reactions to the pastors sermon where he used nappy hair as a negative to illustrate a point?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

7 thoughts on “Good and Bad, See If I Care, Good and Bad Hair

  1. I have to agree with Mama Uppity. People often look at me strange when I say a similiar statement. I am looking forward to Chris Rock’s movie. I hope people laugh and learn from it.

    People always come up to me and say you have “good hair” or “if I had your hair” and I am like you have no idea what I go through. I love my hair rather is curly or striaght, but it does not define my beauty. I cut it off and people say how could you, and I am like it is just hair. I think people’s hair should work for them. If you like it straight…straighten it, if you like it natural…where it natural, but don’t let it define who you are.

    I think what is sad is women will spend tons of money to make the outside look good and all the while the inside is jacked up. Peppa talking about spening thousands on a good wig…how about spending that money on counseling or an education.

    Just my thoughts.

  2. I’m also looking forward to Chris Rock’s movie. I believe this whole good hair, bad hair thing could be alleviated if children were taught from a very young age to be confident in themselves. I have the nappiest hair imaginable. Straight up frizz, no curl pattern whatsoever, and it’s like cotton, shrinks like no other when it hits the water. That doesn’t mean I don’t flat iron it occasionally, or braid it up in micros, or twist it, but I’ve come to accept my hair type. I take care of my hair, it’s healthy, and that should be good enough. It really all comes down to insecurity. If these women realized, no I don’t have straight hair, no I don’t have curly hair, but I have this type of hair and I’m going to learn to work with it, then we’d be okay. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

    Hair is not what makes or breaks a person. Listening to some of these women talking you’d think they were talking about a car or some other big-ticket item. It’s a damn shame, all that money going to waste.

    And this hair thing is really getting old. I’m tired of hearing about it.

  3. I’m also looking forward to the movie however one view that is often not shown is that of women who choose to press/perm/add extensions to their hair. So often those women are characterized as trying to be white or not being in touch with their ethnicity, etc. It’s never mentioned that, for some, it can be easier to maintain or that it’s just a preference. While the issue does run very deep dating back to slavery with masters identifying slaves by their hair (not their skin color because not all africans were dark), sometimes it’s not that deep. Sometimes it’s just having 5 minutes to go in the morning and just wanting to be able to comb your hair and go.

    -Michelle Huxtable

  4. Those were sad statements made by the pastor. What would be next? Bleaching cream. After all God said though you sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Maybe he can use an analogy of using bleaching cream on black skin to explain how God cleanses us.


    My only concern is getting my daughter to be proud of her nappy short hair. Its one thing for me to preach and teach. It’s another thing for her to see what society serves up as beauty on TV.

    I am sooo happy that the church I attend has lots of women with varying hair styles. Dreds, sister locks, twists, perms, you name it. Its a great learning opportunity for her to see black hair in different styles.

  5. Oh, my goodness!! This is the first time I’ve seen any clip from School Daze. Great choreography and dancing!
    The entire topic reminds me of my Westchester Jack & Jill days in the late 1950’s – early 60’s. I did not have “good hair.” (It hot combed nicely and looked better on the fourth day, though!) I was not light light, but light enough to be in jack & Jill, just not part of the “A” group!!

    By my junior year of undergrad, 1967, I threw over the traces and refused to straighten my hair. My mother had a fit!!

    Went back to straightening by late senior year and at IBM. Had a big afro by 1971 in Boston, but recall having to set it on rollers – damp, other wise, it would lie down, not out.

    By 1973 at Lever Brothers – I had it chemically straightened and started out with a fantastic Vidal Sassoon cut – problem was I could neither comb it (hair was too flat and fine) nor set it – ENOUGH – I went completely short natural shortly thereafter. Mother said she didn’t like my hair for about 10 years – I said I didn’t like hers, either. Finally a truce.

    Have had mostly short, fuzzy hair ever since.

    It is now mostly grey/white and fuzzy – it straightens out a bit on top an in the back – and there is that cow-lick (from my father).

    But, mostly it verifies post-menopausal high-status and looks distinguished —

    It’s a long way from the 1950’s and still looks Jack & Jill!!!!!!!!!!!

    Great clip – I’ll look for the DVD!!

    Pamela McGhee

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