North Texas Daily

African Americans still face hair discrimination

African Americans still face hair discrimination

African Americans still face hair discrimination
May 18
10:00 2022

African Americans just can’t catch a break when it comes to hair discrimination. The constant discrimination they face because of their hair is the reason why we have the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. The bill prohibits race-based hair discrimination and any denial of employment or educational opportunities from said discrimination.

There are currently eight states that have adopted the CROWN Act: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington. The CROWN Act coalition consists of an allegiance of organizations that includes Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill this past March, African Americans are still facing race-based hair discrimination.

A video published this April shows an unnamed Black student-athlete having to remove her hair beads to participate in a powerlifting competition has gone viral on Twitter. The video depicts her all-white teammates helping her remove the beads so she would not get disqualified from the competition.

One has to wonder why this kind of discrimination is still happening despite the passing of the CROWN Act.

The history of race-based hair discrimination in America ties into slavery. There were racist practices and ideologies that were used to oppress African Americans through their hair, such as not giving freed Blacks jobs if they weren’t able to straighten their hair. The same tactics are present today but they are reinforced through school and workplace policies.

We still need to protect ourselves from being discriminated against due to our hair. Consequently, there need to be clear and easy ways to help combat race-based hair discrimination. 

Educate yourself: be familiar with the CROWN Act. We need to know what it’s about, what it stands for and how it can help us. We also need to educate ourselves on workplace or school policies. Look at, read and study those policies. There may be some discriminatory policies that are there, and we can use that as leverage in case the discrimination comes down to a lawsuit. 

Talk about discrimination: we need to make sure we talk to those with the authority in the workplace. Schedule a meeting and talk to the manager or boss about hair discrimination. At this meeting be sure to bring up how the hair discrimination is racist and offensive. If things continue to not improve, escalate it with Human Resources. 

Documentation: documentation is everything, especially when fighting an issue such as discrimination. Be sure to save a copy of any policy, rule or regulation that may be deemed discriminatory. Also, save any emails you have sent if you have tried to talk to your manager, boss or HR regarding the hair discrimination issue.  You can also include text messages and other written communication in your documentation. 

Use your resources: If the Crown Act is in effect in your state, be sure to contact them. There are still plenty of resources if your state doesn’t recognize the bill. You can file a complaint to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing against your school or employer. You can also contact your local law firm and talk to a legal counselor. From there, they will be able to guide you through the next steps. 

Though African Americans still face race-based hair discrimination, we are still fighting the good fight. It only takes one generation to say “no.”

It took Rosa Parks saying “no,” to not give up her bus seat. That simple act of protest changed the transportation system for African Americans. We can do the same thing with natural hair discrimination. We will not put up with hair discrimination for ourselves, nor for future generations. 

Featured Illustration By Miranda Thomas

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Chelsie Burroughs

Chelsie Burroughs

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