Photo of Rock with Daughters: Credit — Chris Rock, Instagram

Chris Rock Owes Black Women An Apology

We’re waiting for you to make things right, Chris. Please don’t make us wait forever. Now is the time to heal.

Nothing ever really is what it seems on the surface. What happened, happened because it needed to happen to draw global attention to change.

That change is the discontinuation of microaggressions and implicit bias against black women. As a father to two beautiful black women, Chris Rock could have been more sensitive to the impact of his comments.

His comments seemed a slight jest to the rest of the world, with punishment that did not fit the crime. However, the unobvious context warranted a rash reaction. (not violence)

It’s not just hair.

The Rock-Smith exchange was the equivalent of a Muslim man making fun of another Muslim man’s wife’s hijab in front of the world.

The Rock-Smith exchange was the equivalent of an Indian man making fun of the bindi (the red mark signifying marriage) on an Indian woman’s brow.

The Rock-Smith exchange was the equivalent of an Asian man making fun of another Asian man’s wife’s eye shape and dialect in front of her Anglo peers.

The Rock-Smith exchange was the equivalent of a white man making fun of another white man’s wife’s (over)weight on a global stage.

It was culturally insensitive.

It is clear that Rock’s misstep was not consciously malicious. He did not intentionally mean to disrespect the collective of black women or hurt anyone, but he did. Sh*t happens.

It is unspoken but understood that there are lines not to cross within each culture. Making fun of a black woman’s hair (or lack thereof) is cultural sacrilege because of the historical context, the socio-economic impact, and roots in the aftermath of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade.

The general population often asks why black women wear wigs so much. For some, it is creative expression. For others, it is imposed against our will.

On a conscious level, in America, a black woman’s hair in its natural state is deemed unprofessional, “ghetto,” and unattractive.

On the subconscious level, natural black hair is viewed as defiant. Black women wearing hairstyles rooted in African tradition (shaved, afro, Fulani braids, twists, locks, Bantu knots) and showing the natural texture of their hair are subconsciously deemed a refusal to conform to European beauty standards.

When black women do not wear wigs or straighten their hair, it is understood as a failure to assimilate, which (at one point in American history) was punishable by death.

In present times, black women are penalized financially (not hired or promoted in all fields — from the performing arts (acting) to corporate America) for non-conforming.

This implicit bias is a remnant of slavery. Chris even produced a movie about this.

This is so much an issue that federal legislation is pending by way of the CROWN Act to protect black women from implicit bias/discrimination:

Dove writes:

The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.

The timing was off. There is a rift in the black community that has worsened.

A culture shift is not apparent to mainstream (white) media and the general population. There is a rift between black men and women in the black community of seemingly irreconcilable difference, and the damage appears beyond repair.

During the pandemic, the online masculinity/feminist conflict took off with the mainstream (white) population discussing and redefining gender roles. These discussions included heated debates on everything from equal pay to demarcating domestic roles.

(Some — not all) men in the black community followed suit and impersonated these discussions, but instead of focusing on finance and gender roles, began to hit below the belt, stating that the reason for gender inequality in the black community is due to black women being ugly, mocking black women’s physical features (specifically hair and BMI), calling black women masculine, inferior to white and all other races women, and unworthy of love and protection, simply for being black.

This is internalized racism.

In the past two years, black men mocking black women and touting racist tropes became so profitable, that new social media accounts were created with the sole intent to become wealthy by exploiting and bashing black women.

Black women responded by asking to be protected from verbal abuse and discrimination.

Everyone in the black community is aware of the discord between black men and women, including extremely highly regarded black A-List celebrities, high-ranking black US politicians, and entertainers.

There is a rift.

A few black men have recently stepped up to publicly show support and oppose the microaggressions and racism directed toward black women. (Shocking to us)

It may explain Smith’s seemingly relentless display of support.

Chris, if you read this, you can make things right.

With all eyes on you, this is a perfect opportunity to show support for and protect black women like your daughters and your relatives from discrimination and microaggressions. It is the ideal time to raise awareness of the stigma brought upon black women for their hair.

Take this negative attention and turn it into a positive. You can bring awareness to and promote the CROWN Act.

You can use your global influence to request others to sign the petition and Protect Black Women.

We are all a work in progress.

Let us go out and make a change in a way that only we can.

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LA Rysk

LA Rysk

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