Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair
Created in 2019 by Dove, the Crown Coalition, and State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, the CROWN Act ensures protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles (i.e., braids, locs, twists, and knots) worn in the workplace and public schools. The necessity of this act stems from a historically embedded belief that expressions of Blackness are not considered standard beauty. Instead, it is expected of Black men, women, and children to divest their racial-cultural identity and assimilate to Eurocentric views of beauty. This perspective was my introduction to disliking my natural hair.
My Hair Journey
As a young girl, my hair was pressed. I would anxiously sit in the kitchen chair of my childhood home as my father “tapped my hair” with a hot comb. I have never forgotten the sound of the sizzling heat as the tool grazed my textured strands. As this became my haircare routine, I never learned to love my hair in its natural, curly state. I avoided water, humidity, and certain activities (i.e., swimming) to maintain my pressed hair. I was afraid of embracing the difference in my hair as cultural appreciation of Blackness had not been illustrated to me.
My Girls & Curls
This experience is creatively shared in My Girls & Curls (2022). Author Layla Steele uses her protagonist–Ashley–to communicate to audiences that Black hair is beautiful and deserves to be celebrated in all spaces. Ashley, with Lila and Sarah alongside her, learns to care and nurture her natural hair. Through style exploration, Ashley is no longer fearful of her curls and realizes she does not have to press her hair to gain self-confidence. Celebrating herself in her truest form is how Ashley discovers self-confidence. Steele’s story of self-love is exactly the core message of the CROWN Act.
“Currently, it is legal to discriminate against a person in the workplace, schools, and/or pools because of their natural or protective hairstyle in all states except for California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, and Maine.” Only 15 states in the US have enacted this bill; the CROWN Act still needs a vote on the Senate floor before becoming nationwide law. But, there are simple ways that you can participate in removing the consequences of this racist ideology from all spaces:
These two actions can help to not only ban race-based hair discrimination for good, but give all elements of Blackness the celebration it deserves. We should not and will not be afraid to share our identities in their most authentic forms!
Visit the official website for the CROWN Act here.