Hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism, and its purpose is to preserve white spaces. Policies that prohibit natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs, have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms, and Black adults from their employment. With no nationwide legal protections against hair discrimination, Black people are often left to risk facing consequences at school or work for their natural hair or invest time and money to conform to Eurocentric professionalism and beauty standards.
WHY IS BLACK HAIR SPECIAL?
The exceptional nature of Black hair goes beyond just cultural differences. The elasticity and tight coils of Black hair cause it to have unique needs. The physical attributes make it more susceptible to breakage. It cannot easily be straightened without damaging the hair. Black people often wear “protective hairstyles” like braids, twists, and locs to maintain healthy hair. These hairstyles can be worn for long stretches of time without constant manipulation. The alternative is often to use chemical or heat straighteners that can damage the hair in the short and long term.
Black hair is also an expression of identity and culture. It’s a representation of history and carries deep emotional significance. Historically, Black hair has carried a profound symbolism. Cornrows, locs, twists, afros, bantu knots, and more all have historic connections to Black pride, culture, religion, and history.
WHAT IS THE CROWN ACT?
The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles. It prohibits discrimination based on natural hair style and texture, such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
WHERE CAN YOU FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CROWN ACT?
You can find more information about the status and future of hair discrimination legislation at TheCROWNAct.com. The CROWN Coalition, spearheaded by Dove and Unilever, has created a petition to help end hair discrimination in the workplace and schools.