Renee of Womanist Musings has a wonderful post on Roger Ebert’s review of “Good Hair”. I was going to comment on it at Stuff White People Do where it was guest posted, but I feel a post of my own coming on:
Roger Ebert wrote a review of Chris Rock’s film “Good Hair” (2009). Nothing surprising there: he makes his living as a reviewer. But what makes this one priceless is it shows up his whiteness in two ways:
- He assumes he knows more than black people – even about black women’s hair!
- He downplays what black people go through by comparing it to something white that is not at all the same thing.
Roger Ebert ends the review this way:
The movie has a good feeling, but why do I know more about this subject than Chris Rock does? Smile.
The smile presumably refers to the fact that he is married to a black woman, Chaz Hammel-Smith. Earlier in the review Ebert takes issue with the film based on the Wikipedia, of all things. So Ebert feels he knows more about black women’s hair based on what? This:
- I am married to a black woman.
- I look up stuff in the Wikipedia.
Compare that to Chris Rock:
- Also married to a black woman.
- Has a black mother and two black daughters.
- Spent two years making a film about black women’s hair.
Where in the world does Ebert get off thinking he knows more about black women’s hair? Since Ebert does not strike me as a know-it-all blowhard – I used to watch his reviews on television – it is hard for me not to think this is racist: “White people know what they talking about, black people do not.” Help me out here.
He even assumes he knows more than his own wife, who has had such hair all her life! You know this because it is clear he printed the review without her looking it over – either that or he did not take her comments seriously. It would have kept him from making a fool of himself. But, again, he thinks he knows better.
I find it hard to imagine his wife agreeing with this:
The use of the word “natural hair” is, in any event, misleading. Take a stroll down the hair products aisle of a drugstore or look at the stock price of Supercuts. Few people of any race wear completely natural hair. If they did, we would be a nation of Unibombers.
See that: what black women go through with their hair is no big deal at all! This is stock racist deflection: what black people go through is no different than what white people go through.
White people talk that way because they have a hard time accepting difference in people – what leads to the whole “good hair” thing to begin with. They also do it because, like Ebert, they do not want to take black people seriously.
- Roger Ebert: Good Hair – the review itself
- Womanist Musings: Roger Ebert Proves Good Hair Was Made For White People – guess posted at Stuff White People Do where it gets more comments
- Stuff White People Do: question non-white knowledge and authority – examples of how white people always think they know more than people of colour
- good hair
- How to argue like a white racist
- “But that happened to me too!” argument – in Ebert’s review this shows up as: white women have natural hair too!
- “Some of my best friends are black”– or wife, so I know black people
- The Barbara Bush Award for Deluded Whiteness