Beauty and hair are at the forefront of our mind, as women, as we prepare for our special wedding day. However, this day is sometimes met with anxiety when women of color are deciding whether to wear traditional head coverings, don a wig, straighten their hair, or style their natural hair texture. African American women, in particular, have faced non-acceptance of their natural hair texture from mainstream society, the African American community, and even their family.
As an academic, I was interviewing one of my research participants, Carla, who told me that her mother mocked her natural hair by saying, “If you want to live in Africa, you can just go back.” Another participant, Eboni, revealed that her husband didn’t like her natural hair. Natural hair acceptance doesn’t just impact African American women among their family, but also in professional spaces. Khadijah stated, “My boss was told that my natural hair was intimidating to white men and women.” Carla discussed a conversation she had with another African American woman, “This lady told me that she likes my hair, but she can’t go natural because she’s a professional,” insinuating that natural hair is less than professional. [Excerpt from Black Hair in a White World, page 74]
Hair discrimination is as old as the Atlantic slave trade, however, many instances of discrimination at work or school have come to the forefront in the last two decades. In 2019, in an attempt to combat the continued discrimination African American people faced regarding their hair, California became the first state to pass legislation, banning corporations, institutions, and so forth from discriminating against African American people because of their hair. This legislation is called Creating a Respectable and Open World for Naturals, a.k.a. the CROWN Act. July 3rd, 2023 is the fourth anniversary of National Crown Act Day. To date, 28 states still have not passed this law.
Join me as I stream live from Washington DC launching the Black Hair in a White World Procurement Project. Tap in on July 3rd, 2023 at 12 PM Eastern on my Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. You can also go to my YouTube channel (Dr. Tameka Ellington) to take part in this community-wide, impactful event. I look forward to seeing you there. Together, our voices can be heard! Let’s end hair discrimination and promote authentic beauty for all women of color.