By Michael Perry
First let me commend and apologize to the organizers. Like most consumers of entertainment when I heard the word “urban” in Urban World Film Festival, I immediately thought this event would have all the trappings of a typical African-American cultural experience. With that in mind I did not think that the event would actually start on time. My bad. Colored People Time was not in effect here and being 20 minutes late forced us to wait for the second showing. But that was okay, because it gave me a chance to check out the kind of grown and sexy crowd that you only see in New York. Okay, maybe LA and Atlanta, but you get my point. Anyway my tardiness allowed me the chance to play on the red carpet, grab a bite to eat and absorb all of the eye candy.
Mr. Rock’s documentary was a well-deserved slap in the face. Having heard the term “Good Hair” all my life, and being overly familiar with the economic, cultural and psychological exploitation of people of color in general, and African-Americans in particular, I thought that I already knew all that there was to be said on the subject. For the second time in one evening I was wrong. The collection of narratives from all the personalities presented, a crash course on the economics of black hair care, and a global tour highlighting the values placed on hair, left me dazed and confused. I couldn’t have been more stunned unless you tazed me with a stun gun.
As I sat up into the wee hours of the morning trying to process what I had seen, my mind kept coming back to Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor. I remembered that some ideas are so overwhelming that we can only process them through humor. In other words if you don’t laugh you’re definitely going to cry.
Dick Gregory did it by making fun of segregation and Jim Crow mentality. Richard Pryor did it when he told us we weren’t niggers. With Good Hair I watched Chris rock position himself to be remembered among the greatest comedians of all time.