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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brad Pitt and Black Hair

A stunning reason why White parents are frequently incapable of dealing with the ramifications of adopting a non-White child: in this month's Esquire magazine, Brad Pitt says,

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.
Right. Because Black hair is usually dull and smelly. Imagine what happens when Zahara starts asking why her Mommy and Daddy are a different colour than she is.

20 Comments:

Blogger Ragnell said...

Wow.

9/24/2006 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Mac said...

Carol's Daughter is a good product though. LOL!!
And since it's black owned. I thank Brad for supporting the cause.

9/25/2006 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

r u serious black peoples hair is usually dull and smelly? they r not the ones, u stop the hate!

9/25/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

^^ It's so interesting how some people totally miss sarcasm online.

9/25/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be why airhead white parents can't cope with adopting a black child. Brad and Angelina (or whoever) never struck me as being the sharpest knives in the drawer.

NancyP

9/25/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cocacy said...

Just reading your post re-affirms for me even strongly why I was filled with such trepidation and loathing when I heard Brangelina adopted zahara...

9/25/2006 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

With all due respect, this is the second time James has commented with something akin to "it's funny how people miss sarcasm online".

Well, the reason for that is that this isn't a sarcastic site. Plus, this really didn't come OFF as sarcastic. I mean, if this is a taste of what's to come, then I guess we, as an audience, will adapt. But for the most part, this blog doesn't have a huge history of tongue-in-cheek wittiness. If anything, it's been pretty scathing and to the point. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's its "thing". But I think we all might miss the sarcasm because that has not been the most commonly used vehicle on this site.

9/25/2006 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Hey Will, what's up? I dunno, I just have a hard time with the idea that anyone, reasonable or otherwise, could seriously read Jenn's post here and think that she considers Black people's hair "usually dull and smelly", but find nothing amiss with Pitt's quote from Esquire. Jenn obviously spoke of Black hair in the reverse of Pitt's comments to illustrate Pitt's rhetorical absurdity. (And now I've taken all the fun out of the joke. Sorry Jenn.)

I just found that anonymous comment illogical.

That being said, what annoyed me about this comment from Brad Pitt wasn't the obvious product plugging, or the possible (but widely overblown) insinuation that Zahara's hair in its natural state was somehow undesirable just because of its African roots. What's annoying here is the idea that Blacks are so intrinsically different from all other humans that non-Blacks require special instruction and total immersion in the mysterious ways of the African Diaspora in order to interact with Black people and raise Black adoptees. It's bizarre. Zahara's hair grows from a human head; how a parent like Brad Pitt could have "trouble" with it blows my mind.

Really, I'm glad Jolie and Pitt found a product they like, but it's really annoying to find that in 2006 it's an accepted part of American social discourse to consider Black folk so patently, fundamentally different that without special "products" non-Blacks will always have "trouble" with us. Let's just hope that Carol's Daughter doesn't produce a conk.

9/25/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Lyonside said...

Just to play Devil's Advocate, it's just this side of possible that the "smell" comment refers to the product, as opposed to chemical straighteners or processers. I think everyone would agree that no chemical straightener smells good.

And by "trouble," most European-descent (white) parents expect children to have hair that you can just run a brush through and go, especially if they don't have curly hair themselves. For tightly whorled or kinked hair, they often don't have a clue.

That said, a young kid of African descent shouldn't be using harsh chemicals on their hair ANYWAY, and a little quality time with a wide tooth comb is all you need.

I think the comment is a bit clueless, personally - if more parents did their homework (biological kid or not) a lot of "trouble" would disappear.

9/26/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous t-hype said...

I'm with lyonside on the smell thing. At least that's how I read it. I don't typically think of hair as having a smell but products do.

As far as Brad is concerned, we all know he's "whitebread with the crust cut off." If you didn't, I think the use of black-person hair as a descriptor would be a real clue...Natural African hair does typically appear dull compared to straight hair. And everyone--black, white or otherwise--should use product. Don't hate 'cause some people like Hollywood glamour! (These ARE movie stars we're talking about here.) Next thing you'll be complaining that Oprah wears weave...

9/26/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous MiaNaja said...

Well Brad is not alone in not being able to deal with Black hair, but Carol's Daughter has awesome products, for the body, bath and hair. She promotes natural hair growth and has products for locking as well. Jada Pinkett Smith is a partner in her business. Oh and Oprah is not the only one who wears weaves...

9/26/2006 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you all for your comments. I just want to make it clear that this is not a discussion about Carol's Daughter products -- I have no idea (nor do I particularly care) how good these hair products are or who have signed on as spokespeople for these products. The problem is that Brad Pitt a) used the really dumbass term "black-people hair" b) implied through his turn of phrase that Black hair is usually dull and smelly, and c) perpetuates white supremacist beauty myths by comparing Zahara's hair to White hair (in hopes of making Zahara's hair "more White" and "less trouble").

And to t-hype: Black hair isn't naturally dull -- hair of all kinds can be shiny or dull. Ever seen the sheen (or more appropriately, the lack thereof) of certain dirty blondes?

9/27/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous sk said...

I am amazed he used the term "black-person hair". I suppose they thought they did this child a great favour by adopting her and making sure her hair shines.

9/27/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Y. Carrington said...

"Black-person hair." Whoa there, Mr. Pitt.

I'm scared shitless for Zahara and Maddox when they're older.

9/27/2006 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay, i will definitely agree that the phrase "black person hair" was not the most.... considerate.

however, it is unfortunately the social norm in the US that white folk would have no idea what to do with/what products to use with hair that isn't typical white hair.

the commercials and ads we are bombarded with constantly are clearly geared towards white hair. if two black/asian/native american/hispanic people adopted a white child, they would know exactly what kind of products to use because there are nothing but pantene and herbal essance commercials on TV... which are clearly products geared towards "white" hair.

there are not nearly as many commercials on TV selling products that would be best suited for other types of hair. so even thought i think Pitt's terminology leaves much to be desired, i can't blame him for the fact that there is little mainstream publicity for products catering to hair that is not "white person hair".

nor do i think that the parents' ideas about hair has anything to do with what kind of parent they will be to a child of a different race.

9/28/2006 02:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Pitt was inarticulate and ignorant. As an (mixed-race) African-American, I can say that as a child my mother and grandmother would use Afrosheen on my hair because it was dry. Having one's scalped "oiled" is pretty normal: take a comb, split the hair take some Afrosheen and spread down the row and repeat.

The reality is that most white parents don't know how to treat some types of African hair.

9/28/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It comes up so much this hair thing when you have black kids (an you are white) especially girls. Basically both sides are damn uncomfortable about the situation and its played out through hair. I've lost count the times some B**** has told me "you do your daughter's hair?" when she looks particularly crisp with a cane row or complex plaited style. Yes I do just like I changed her black ass when she was a baby - she's my daughter.

Brad probably won't learn as he will be cushioned from a whole heap of black in-laws, sisters of the baby mother etc getting in his face about his remark which is a shame.

9/28/2006 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous shanda d. Smalls said...

Well, moderators you may need to check any Black hair natural website. Natural (as in unprocessed not relaxed) Black hair is much more dull than processed hair it's simple science really it has to do with the cuticle and how light reflexs.. but I digress. I as a woman of color did not read that comment and find it the least bit offensive. As, it has been saif I think the smell he was refering to the product...

Question is if Brad was Black would you be in an uproar too?

9/30/2006 12:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Shanda D. Smalls said:

Well, moderators you may need to check any Black hair natural website. Natural (as in unprocessed not relaxed) Black hair is much more dull than processed hair it's simple science really it has to do with the cuticle and how light reflexs"

Uh, sorry honey. But it sounds like you are the one that needs to check out the hair sites. First off, the range of "natural black hair" goes from straight to curly.

Shine depends on how smooth the hair's surface is which is why you can get coarse straight hair that doesn't have much sheen, and (surprise surprise!) smoother textured tightly curled hair with lots of gloss.

I don't know why you think being a "woman of color" gives you the right to make grossly inaccurate, sweeping statements about "black hair".

People like you just use their packaging to perpetuate all sorts of misinformation. I think it's time to hit the books, mamita.

10/05/2006 05:14:00 PM  
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