Discussion of 'Good Hair' Among Black History Month Events


Inspired by a 2009 documentary, two CNR students will lead a dinner discussion about the myths and stereotypes of "good hair" among African-Americans, particularly women, as part of a slate of events for Black History Month.

Nacre Coleman SAS'14 and Genesis McGrew SAS'13 will spark the conversation from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20, in the Iselin Room at Sweeny Student Center.

In "Good Hair," comedian Chris Rock examines the culture around African-American women's hair -- the pressure for black women to straighten and relax their naturally curly hair, the massive industry around styling products and weaves, and the complicated role hair occupies in their lives. Rock says the film was inspired by his daughter, who, at 5 years old, asked him, "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?"

Coleman says she has seen the issue from many perspectives. She had her hair chemically relaxed for a decade, has worn it naturally for the past couple of years, and plans to temporarily straighten it in a couple of weeks.

Opinions in the African-American community run the gamut, she says. "Some people will say they can appreciate what people call natural hair from someone else's perspective, but can't do it for themselves," Coleman said.

One's feelings on the matter can depend on one's age, the values one's family holds, and other factors. Biracial individuals can also struggle with the question, asking themselves if a hairstyle means more or less of a connection with one side of their heritage.

Other events for Black History Month included a Black History Month Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, a poetry reading at Romita Auditorium, dinner at a New York City soul food restaurant, and a trip to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Upcoming events include information tables at the student center February 21 and 26; a student showcase of performaces at the dining hall on February 27; and a lecture by historian Edward J. Blum, "Color of Christ and Politics of Race in the 20th Century," on February 28.

On April 3, Associate Professor of English Nancy Fitch will lead a discussion of "Blacks," a collection of poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks.

For more information, contact Student Development at (914) 654-5862 or visit http://calendar.cnr.edu/.

(Photo: The information table at Sweeny Student Center.)