Thursday, October 05, 2006
Brad Pitt and Black Hair
"For white people who might be having a little trouble with black- person hair, Carol's Daughter is a fantastic hair product. We got it for Z. Now her hair has this beautiful luster. And it smells nice, too." -- Brad Pitt, Esquire Magazine, 10/06
For those of you who don't know, Black hair as a social phenomenon is my thing. I wrote a book about it and everything. So you know I have to talk about Brad Pitt.
As it goes, in the October issue of Esquire magazine, Mr. Pitt made a comment about how much he likes Carol's daughter's products for his daughter Zahara's hair. Originally I was simply going to write about that. You know comment on how his casual endorsement would probably translate to thousands of new customers for Lisa Price and her Brooklyn-based company. I was also going to mention that this was the kind of meltingpot experience that I love to see. You know, White people learning through hands-on experience what Black hair is really about.
But that's not the real story here. The real story is how much press this comment has gotten, online and in the blogosphere. People are going crazy over this. Go ahead and Google Brad Pitt and Carol's Daughter and you'll get over 200,000 hits. Why? Because people want to see controversy in a White man talking about a Black person's hair. Some people are offended that Brad referred to his daughter's hair as "Black-person hair." Others were offended that he said the products made Z's hair smell really good. As if it smelled bad before. And one website actually labeled Pitt a racist, misquoting him of course, saying that he had "trouble" with his daughter's hair. Wow!
When my co-author, Ayana Byrd and I wrote Hair Story five years ago, people were crucifying another White person, this time a public school teacher, for reading the book Nappy Hair to her Black students. As it was then and it still is now, the Black community is still really sensitive when it comes to our hair. Sure we may be more accepting of natural styles and less ashamed to flaunt our weaves and extensions but something is still unhealed in our collective psyche.
I don't believe Brad Pitt deserves any criticism or condemnation for his comments. But maybe I should send him a copy of my book so he understands the tangled roots of our hairstory.