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#BackChannel: ‘Hair Love,’ Remembering Kobe Bryant & Michael Vick’s Road To Redemption

What happens when a black father tries to do his young daughter’s natural hair for the first time? In the animated short “Hair Love” a battle ensues: The father wields a comb as his weapon, but his first attempt is a miserable failure.

''I love the treatment of her natural hair … He deals with the fact that our natural hair in its natural state can be unwieldy, challenging…'' -Natalie Bullock Brown

With his daughter’s encouragement, and help from a guided video, he eventually succeeds. The charming seven-minute film won an Oscar on Sunday for best animated short.

Popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal join host Frank Stasio in this installment of #Backchannel to talk about representation in animated film and how the short disrupts assumptions about black fathers.

"Hair Love" directed by Matthew A. Cherry

They also pay tribute to the recently-deceased Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and share insight  into the tension surrounding how his 2003 rape allegation is being talked about in the wake of his death.

''Part of Kobe's legacy is who he grew up to become. Part of the conversation we need to have is: How do we get men to grow up?'' -Mark Anthony Neal

Brown and Neal also review Google’s new ad released for Black History Month and shout out the Sundance Film Festival for how diverse and inclusive its awards were this year.

The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History Makers

Plus, Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson joins the conversation to talk about his new two-part 30 for 30 documentary series about former NFL quarterback Michael Vick. “Vick” traces his rise, fall and road to redemption.

Vick: Part 1 Trailer

Natalie Bullock Brown is a filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke Professor and chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University.

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Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist, host, creator, and executive editor of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.