Regarding Roots– Literally

Flickr: stevendepolo

Since I avoided the internet for the last few days of 2010, I’m catching up on all my favorite blogs. This post, “‘Good Hair’ on C.P. Time.” from PostBourgie, reminds me that though I intended to, I still haven’t seen the notable Chris Rock documentary about hair:

This seemed to be the reaction that Rock was nudging the audience toward, even as he seemed to assiduously avoid taking an explicit stance. We watch as a principal ingredient in hair relaxer eats through a metal can, before cutting to a little girl of about three or four who has already started getting her hair permed — the opening night audience in Brooklyn gasped loudly and tut-tutted at this — before seeing how the hair used to make expensive weaves sold stateside is literally shorn from the heads of poor people in South Asia as part of a religious ritual…

That last bit about South Asian temple hair is something I end up discussing almost weekly with someone. The offering occurs at Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, in southern India.

“(The documentary) also oddly doesn’t spend much time on women who eschew all that stuff and decide to go natural. There’s a scene in which a group of high school students are talking about hair, and the one sporting a fro comes in for some criticism. Her hair, the others think, might hurt her career prospects by hindering folks’ capacities to take her see her as professional. But if you’ll allow me a completely irresponsible generalization, I’d guess that college-educated, professional women are way, way more likely to have natural hair than women who are not. (Say it with me: social location matters.)

I’m not sure what the purpose of that scene was, other than to show us the discomfort some people have with natural hair, but since that sentiment was being voiced by teenagers — not exactly a cohort known for its foresight and its embrace of difference — their observations about The Way The World Works probably aren’t really that useful. That seems all the more reason to have more women who went natural represented in some way.