Black Folks Are Still Discriminated Against For Their Natural Hair––Stop This Sh•t Now
Well, it finally happened. Americans witnessed Donald Trump totally reject the opportunity to publicly condemn white supremacists during his first presidential debate on Tuesday. After the totally racist and unhinged shitstorm he unleashed on America this past week, it’s understandably difficult to feel good about the state of our nation at the moment.
I don’t know about you, but I’m currently looking for every ounce of hope I can find, and I know that I won’t be able to get any from our president. So I’m going to bring you some majorly awesome news today in the hopes of drowning out this dangerously off-the-rails man, because we need all of the silver linings we can get right now. And more importantly, we need to know about the many badass human beings out there, primarily Black women, who are shaking things up in D.C. and showing Trump how to act like the inspiring leader he’ll never be.
In a powerful move by Dove, the personal care brand joined forces with The National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty to create the C.R.O.W.N. (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair) Coalition, a national alliance that tirelessly works to advance anti-discrimination legislation across the country. They also produced a 2019 study conducted by The Joy Collective to determine how explicit racial bias of African-American hairstyles impacts Black women in the workplace. The research has been collected was initially an effort to help make the CROWN Act, a visionary new piece of legislation authored by Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, a legal reality in California. Last July, California Gov. Newsom signed the new bill into law, making his state the first in our nation to legally ban discrimination against Black students and employees over their natural hair.
While it’s absolutely fabulous to have a state finally legalize this bill (with 6 states following California’s lead), it would be even more amazing — and long overdue — to see it passed nationwide. And last week, we learned that it just might happen. On September 21st, The Crown Act was successfully passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting Senate approval, making it an historic triumph for Black Americans who overwhelmingly deserve to receive equal respect, freedom, and safety in schools and workplaces.
If approved, The CROWN Act will nationally prohibit the horrific practice of flat-out denying employment and educational opportunities to Black Americans because of their natural hair textures, including hair that is tightly coiled, tightly curled, or styled in an afro, braids, locs, twists, or Bantu knots.
“In a country that’s supposed to be trying to fight against racial injustices and systemic racism, this is another one of those examples of how Black people—Black men and women—are discriminated against,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a cosponsor of the House bill, said in an interview with Vanity fair on September 25th.
According to the researchers of Dove’s study, Black women have reported being 30% more likely to receive a formal grooming policy in work environments, since natural African-American hairstyles and textures are often seen as “less professional.” Even more startling, respondents of the CROWN Research Study were shown two images of a Black woman and a white woman with the exact same hairstyle, with the white woman being typically noted to possess 25% more job readiness than the Black woman. Black women were also 1.5 times more likely to either be sent home, or know another Black woman who was sent home from her job, solely because of her hair.
The evidence found in this study is absolutely unacceptable and is further compounded by stories in recent years of Black teens being harassed, unfairly penalized, and discriminated against because of their appearance. Back in January, a Texas high school student named DeAndre Arnold made national headlines when he was banned from attending his graduation because of his dreadlocks. And a year prior, Black teen Andrew Johnson found himself at the center of a justifiable media storm after a video surfaced of the student’s hair being forcibly cut off in the middle of his wrestling match after a racist white referee threatened to disqualify him.
But let’s be totally honest here. Black Americans have been largely discriminated against in every way imaginable for centuries. The stark reality is that The CROWN Act should not have to be a piece of legislation that requires existence, but we are undeniably living in a divisive, racially unjust society that still displays hateful remnants from the inexcusable chapter of history during which white people enslaved African-Americans. The heroes in today’s story will always be the Black human beings who have endured the grave atrocities of living in our systemically racist country and have the courage and strength to rise up time and again to take a stand against it all.
Whether it’s calling out something as publicly documented as police brutality or as socially stigmatizing as persisting in the battle against hair discrimination, Black Americans are long overdue for the right to exist freely, safely, and joyfully. If Donald Trump won’t listen, then those of us who choose to become aware enough — and find ourselves lucky enough — to stand beside these extraordinary leaders and individuals will.
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