John Oliver largely took a break from politics and lambasting the likes of Tucker Carlson on Sunday night. Actually, he did so after some breezy introductory coverage on voter suppression bills, and then he veered in a sharply different direction for his deep-dive segment on Black hair.
Of course, the Last Week Tonight host knows that he’s not the right person to explain Black hair. He knows that he can lay out the facts about how Black people have been (historically) subject to discrimination and punitive actions regarding their natural hair. This is the case even after the 1970s and the embrace of the natural hair movement, during which “Black hair’s natural texture and culturally significant styles had become a radical act of self-acceptance and political power.” However and as Oliver notes, “White people’s discomfort and ignorance around Black hair has very much remained.” So, Oliver enlisted some experts at the end of the deep dive (around the 22:00 mark).
First, the host included panels and audio recordings (including calls to hair salons, in which white stylists professed their utter ignorance on working with Black hair). To further compound matters, Oliver highlighted how some stores place products for Black hair within protective cases alongside the freely grabbable products for white hair. However, Oliver noted that The CROWN Act, which has been passed in a handful of states, prohibits discrimination based upon race-based hairstyles. That would include braids, locs, dreadlocks, yet furthermore, as Oliver emphasizes, “Black hair shouldn’t be viewed or corralled by white people. White people really don’t need to have an opinion on it and our laws should reflect that.”
In the end, Oliver kept with his stance that he shouldn’t be the one delivering the final word on Black hair. As such, he brought on a few guests (Leslie Jones, Craig Robinson, and Uzo Aduba) to tell white viewers where they can learn about Black hair:
“F*cking Google it.”
That’s straight-up. “It can be f*cking Bing, YouTube, Wikipedia. I don’t give a sh*t,” Jones elaborated. A few short moments prior, Robinson and Aduba had explained that there are questions that can, in fact, be answered by Google, like “what does a do-rag do?” and “how often do you have to wash black hair?” Jones further added, “Once you get the information, you can appreciate all the beauty and hard work it takes to keeping my hair laid and looking good.”
Don’t want to Google it? Jones delivers an alternative course of action: “F*cking off is always an option.” Enough said.