As the owner of a hair salon that caters to Black businesswomen, one of the most fraught decisions I watch my clients face before public appearances, interviews or the first day of a new position, is what to do with their hair.
Black women are often pressured with phrases like “professional hair” or “neat hair” and many have experienced deep-reaching consequences for their “failure to follow” Eurocentric beauty standards in the workplace. The scrutiny, reprimanding and penalties are swift and damaging.
Hair discrimination (the preservation of white spaces with policies that prohibit natural hairstyles like locs, braids, afros and bantu knots) remains a major issue at companies and in schools. It is what sparked the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, a law that aims to end it nationwide.
Since its introduction in 2019 by California senator Holly J. Mitchell, the CROWN Act has been gaining traction. To date, hair discrimination is now illegal in 14 states (CA, NY, NJ, VA, CO, WA, MD, CT, NV, NM, DE, OR, NE, IL), but there is still more work to be done.
We can lend our support in a few ways:
- Join the Crown Coalition. It consists of advocacy and non-governmental organizations that seek to end hair bias and discrimination in the United States.
- Sign the petition. The campaign currently has 375,313 signatures. Its goal is to reach 500,000. Sign here.
- Introduce the Crown Act to your state legislators. Visit their website for resources and assistance.