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Chris Rock's Good Hair Blows Out Historical African American Hair Secrets

Comedian Chris Rock has encountered both rave reviews as well as snickers and boos in response to his new documentary, Good Hair.  While some people have enjoyed the film, others are not as happy with Rock's viewpoints.

Chris Rock on the other hand is gleeful about shining the light on secrets, which he says are "bad for the human spirit."

(Image of Tracie Thoms - Intermix - 09-25-07 - - All Rights Reserved)

As a result of his own daughter's angst about not having "good hair" he set out to examine the African American history around having good or bad hair.  As Chris as explained in interviews with the media African American hair has been burdened by the twin legacies of slavery and racism with strong pressure to compare their hair to Caucasian hair.

Historically in the African American community, "good hair" is categorized as soft, smooth and manageable. "Bad hair" is typically called short and "nappy."   Traditionally when trying to alter bad hair and transition it to good there has been the adoption of chemicals and hair weaves.

Chris Rock's film asks the controversial question whether black women spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars in hair salons to make their hair straighter and silkier because they want to look like white women?

(Image of Tracie Thoms who stars as Kat Miller on COLD CASE, broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Justin Stephens/CBS. ©2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved)

To answer that question and to examine the reason for his own daughter's hair angst he combines African American hair history with humor, fascination and sad stories of hair torture.

The result?  One common reaction is for Caucasians and African American women to talk about their individual hair issues with new compassion.

There is also new questions being asked about the segregation of white and black hair at the neighborhood hair salon.  As Chris Rock indirectly points out, Caucasians don't know very much about black hair but African Americans know about white hair.  Sometimes more than Caucasians know.  Also, many African American women have revealed, as a result of the film that they don't want to talk about their hair, or at least to Caucasians.

African American's believe their hair issues should remain secret.  Chris Rock doesn't necessarily agree with the long history of secrecy.

"Secrets will rot the soul," Rock says. "They're good for no one. Unless you're planning a surprise party or something."  'Old-school journalism'

(Image of Det. Kat Miller (Tracie Thoms) on COLD CASE, Sunday, Oct. 4 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. ©2009 Warner Bros. Television - All Rights Reserved)

Chris Rock says he was surprised by what he found out about hair. "I knew women wanted to be beautiful, but I didn't know the lengths they would go to, the time they would spend - and not complain about it," he says. "In fact, they appear to look forward to it."

Chris unveils lots of secrets including talking about "creamy crack" which is toxic goop that helps to relax or straighten hair.  He also sheds information on hair braiding, weaves and other hair tricks used at African American hair salons around the country.

The comedian also includes interviews with African American actresses Nia Long, Raven-Symoné and Tracie Thoms.  He also visited the famous Bronner Brothers show and tried to sell African American hair on the streets of Los Angeles.

Some African Americans believe the deeper issue continues to be glossed over, which is why do minority women in America feel pressure to conform to a mainstream standard of beauty that is hard to attain?"  Some African American women are very upset about the movie and believe it is an attack against black women and their hair choices.  There is also the criticism that Chris doesn't address the current natural movement in full swing.

Regardless, the reaction to the movie ranges from humor and enjoyment to anger and disgust.  Of course, in America we pride ourselves in Freedom of Speech.

(Tracie Thoms stars as Det. Kat Miller in COLD CASE, broadcast Sundays on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Also, if the final result of 'Good Hair'' is to show women that all hair, regardless of age or race is good hair and that all women should exercise whatever decisions they wish to make about their hair because it's just hair.

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