Eventually night time’s Oscars award present, actor Will Smith had an altercation with comic Chris Rock, who made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s buzzed haircut. “Jada, cannot anticipate ‘G.I. Jane 2,'” Rock stated, referring to the film the place the primary character — who has a shaved coiffure — turns into the primary lady to endure Navy SEAL coaching.
Now, this isn’t a narrative in regards to the incident. That is in regards to the joke that brought on it, made not solely at Pinkett Smith’s expense but additionally on the expense of ladies in every single place who’re additionally facing some form of hair loss. Pinkett Smith has beforehand been very open about her experience with alopecia, an autoimmune dysfunction that may trigger balding and a big a part of why the actor lower her hair within the first place.
Whereas individuals stay divided on whether or not Smith’s response was warranted, there’s one other layer to this incident that is not getting the eye it deserves. Hair in the Black community is revered. Rock himself has made a documentary about Black hair tradition, after being requested by his daughter why she doesn’t have “good hair.” Numerous articles have been written on Black hair tradition within the US. The significance of hair within the Black neighborhood, notably for Black girls, is an plain, well-documented reality.
On one hand, Black women are criticized whatever the means they put on their hair, whether or not it’s pure, in braids, weaved, or permed. On the opposite, every of these types has one thing in frequent: there’s hair accessible for them to execute no matter type they please, with full company. Pinkett Smith didn’t select to have alopecia. (In truth, the situation impacts roughly 6.8 million individuals within the US alone, in accordance with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.) She has acknowledged clearly and publicly that she has been attempting to simply accept her situation after years of attempting to cover it — at instances being dropped at tears when discussing her journey.
Rock’s implication that he cannot wait to see her in “G.I. Jane 2” was not solely unwarranted and ill-timed but additionally insensitive. It tried to proceed a long-standing custom within the Black neighborhood the place Black girls are sometimes those on the receiving finish of quips about their appearances and are nonetheless anticipated to roll with the punches and chortle it off.
If we have realized something from the passing of Chadwick Boseman and Virgil Abloh, it is that you just by no means know what battles persons are preventing. The unwarranted feedback about individuals’s appearances have to cease. The ignorant hair jokes geared toward Black girls have to cease. Black girls are greater than comedic fodder dished out to a whitewashed viewers by Black males seeking to additional their careers. Sufficient is sufficient.