Black culture has many sayings and cliches, here’s one: “A woman’s hair is her glory” this folks, in America for Black women hasn’t been historically true.
Let’s be honest here:
Black Male Privilege (yes there is such a thing) https://projecthumanities.asu.edu/content/black-male-privilege-checklist has the wonderfully sexy and positive Baldi industry waiting for him. He has a whole Baldi industry filled with products like Baldi butter, Baldi shaving razors, we even have Baldi technical education on “How to achieve the best clean-shaven head.” This industry is not just about capitalism but is designed to soothe men’s egos and allow them to feel vital and vibrant even WITHOUT HAIR. Black men more than white men even have the luxury of their hair loss going undetected.
Steve Harvey’s hair one day was thick and bulletproof and the next day, Voila…Baldi! I’ll even go as far to say women find him even sexier now than he was with hair. His hair loss had No Jokes applied!
Let’s ask ourselves this question: Would it have been a laughable joke, if Chris Rock had made reference to Jada’s bald head with the “Dora Milage” Royal Security of the King, in the fictional nation of Wakanda, in the Black Panther film?
Course NOT, because Dora Milage means “ADORED ONES” in the Hausa language of Nigeria, so…no that wouldn’t work!
Ironically enough, though Wakanda is fictional, African women like that of the “Dora Milage” of antiquity; as our father of African History, Dr. John Henrik Clarke said, “African women were fierce warriors able to ward off any attack.” But strangely, from within their own culture, she has not been able to escape the attack on her self-image.
So, why the G.I. JANE connection?
The film “G.I. Jane”, though was a successful film, is not on the radar of most people nor is it currently relevant to pop culture. But yet Mr. Rock chose it. For those who don’t know what Demi Moore’s character G.I.Jane (Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil) was about, it was her taking on the challenge of a female Senator’s idea of women’s rights in the military, of course, the idea was met with Moore’s character’s ambition. One can imagine what her male counterparts thought of that bright idea. A Navy Seal? Achievement? Equality? Rights? Out RANK her man?
Maybe some subconscious connection there? Let’s move on to the harmless hair joke! Or was it a Hair Joke?
Weaponizing a black woman’s hair, unfortunately, has been “A Go-To” for Black men comedians since “Jim Crow.” Black women’s hair, likeness, disposition, and image have given Black male comedians millions of laughs, but at what price? Maybe TRUST and honor?
When Chris and our news outlet’s founder Willie Morrow and I consulted Mr. Rock on his film “Good Hair” Mr. Morrow made it very clear to Mr. Rock and told him, and I quote (and for precise historical reference, Mr. Morrow did use the N-word, it was captured in the below photo.)
“I will not be part of a film that makes a mockery of Black women, nor will I allow you to erase years of my work to raise Black women’s self-esteem, just so you can have a successful Hollywood film.” ~ Willie Morrow
That was a direct quote from Mr. Morrow whose days and hours of consulting only accumulated to 10 seconds towards the film’s end. Mr. Rock’s film did more harm to the business of Black Beauty than any white or Asian person has, but that betrayal is another story altogether… So why is this important to the moral of SLAPGATE?
AFROPHOBIA is real! (Yes… it’s a real thing) however, I did not know some Black men suffered from it as well. Maybe, just maybe Black men are unconsciously, subconsciously, or even consciously afraid; not of the Afroness of Black women’s hair per se, but the fear of not getting or close to getting the benefits of what long straight hair can afford him or what straight hair represents in his environment!
I wasn’t a Will Smith fan until Sunday Night! Why, because, my 81-year-old neighbor, said this to me:
“I apologize for saying this but, in all 81 years of my white life as a white woman, I have never seen a Black man, risk his reputation, and everything he owns just to stand up for any Black woman. She went on to say, Will has redeemed their honor in my eyes.”
My new fanship is not because of the slap, it was the contrast of his actions brought to my awareness.
But back to my neighbor’s statement, I have to say, in my 55 years, I hadn’t seen it either, and as I walked away I knew as a person in the journalism business…I needed to see things differently.
Mr. Smith’s poor choice of dealing with his embarrassment and hurt was obvious, at the same time, Mr. Smith allowed Black people to see what betrayal and powerlessness look and feels like on all levels right before our very eyes.
Some will say Mr. Rock did not know Jada was suffering from hair loss, and it shouldn’t have even mattered, it was just a joke. If we love to laugh so much, and laughter is healthy…does the intent behind the joke make the joke funny or not? It wasn’t Jada’s lack of hair so much that was funny about Mr. Rock’s undercurrent punchline, but, in my opinion, it was the subtle and sugary inference of the G.I. Jane character to that of a woman’s right to walk into the unknown, pursue herself, go for what she wants and be willing to leave the center of her male counterpart’s care and protection in trade of her own sovereignty. That’s what makes the G.I. Jane connection the real “Punchline” the connection doesn’t make sense otherwise, and it is what G.I.Jane does in the film! LEAVE HER MAN to pursue her AMBITIONS!
But for the sake of the subject of Hair Loss, here is one fact:
Dr. Lenzy partnered with the Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center to survey African-American women about their experiences with hair loss. Of the 5,594 women who have completed the survey, 47.6 percent reported hair loss on the crown or top of the scalp.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304093239.htm
With one last insight, Black people don’t understand how disconnected we are from the AFRONESS of our own bodies. What might help is for Black cosmetologists to band with each other and demand Afro Cosmetology be a separate cosmetology discipline.
Why would this matter? Because if we continue down the road of talking about Afro-textured hair without serious scientific research, Afrophobia, Textured hair ignorance will lead us to where we are now. Every subject on the human body is scientifically approached except when it exclusively pertain to black bodies, (sickle cell anemia has been one exception.)
We need scientific perspectives on AFRO textures; and hair loss, because when you don’t have a pure or Afro thought leadership on the matter of Hair Loss, the loss of hair for Black women will be trivialized and masculated into white and Black males’ sadness about losing their hair as men; as if to say, its a man’s thing!
Hair Loss of textured hair is distinctively different from male pattern baldness. Dermatology arrogantly thinks they know what textured hair loss is about. Dermatology places context on conditions like “Traction Alopecia” or Alopecia Totalis without acknowledging AFRO hair’s distinctive scientific nature. This is a poor effort in my opinion.
Jada and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) are fighting for their own beauty processes. Every day Black women get out of bed, and somehow try to glorify their naked-headed CROWNS as Black men do; void of the glory they once had, and somehow, and I mean somehow try to find something…I mean SOMETHING funny about it! With or without the help of a seasoned comedian.
Black America will continue to be polarized, as we won’t face our triggers; the programming running behind the interface of our emotional software. We’ll talk and take the
Will’s meltdown of wife protection
Chris’s instant bigger man valor
But at the end of the day, we’re all acting like we’re ok!
Black men will continue to haunt and subconsciously punish Will Smith for his “Open Relationship” or his “Stand By Your Woman” marriage style, though we know Chris regrets making his children privy to his poor husbandry choices and making them part of a so-called broken home; And this which should never be the intent or brunt of any joke!
BTW: The reason Mr. Rock says he did the movie “Good Hair” in his words “Because one day, my daughter Lola asks why she doesn’t have good hair.” Chris goes on to try to traverse and deal with his daughter’s pain about her hair by doing the film, (Mr. Rock, has two daughters named Lola and Zahra.)
Is Mr. Rock a Hypocrite? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is clear… as he knew Black Hair Mattered to his daughter, he NOW KNOWS the loss of it REALLY MATTERS MORE!
The San Diego Monitor-News has been serving Black San Diego since 1986