Have you always envisioned yourself with locs? Does the constant worry of being seen as unprofessional hinder you from embracing the journey and lifestyle?
Research reveals that Black women in the United States are often subjected to the expectations of European norms when it comes to defining what is considered professional or beautiful. Our hairstyles play a significant role in these standards. When Black women strive to reclaim their authentic identity by embracing their natural hair, they frequently encounter discrimination within the workplace.
In response to these biases rooted in the history of enslavement, powerful social movements, such as the Natural Hair Movement, have emerged. The CROWN Act was created to oppose discrimination related to such hairstyles as locs, twists, or Bantu knots.
Read on to learn more and hopefully become inspired to fulfill your dream of getting locs!
What Does Research Tell Us?
While some people might dismiss hair-based discrimination as an imaginary problem, many studies prove that it is a social reality. For example, the 2021 Dove CROWN Study for Girls has shown that 66% of Black girls who study in predominantly white schools have experienced hair discrimination. Another study tells us that a majority of surveyed Black girls residing in the U.S. have experienced or witnessed hair-related bullying or teasing.
These studies are concerning because hair-related microaggressions induce trauma in girls, lead to missed school days, and can negatively affect self-image. Having experienced these prejudices in childhood, Black women are more likely to change their hairstyles when they go to work or have a job interview.
Brief History of Hair-based Discrimination
African hair was historically used by enslavers as one of the ways to “other” Black people and dehumanize them. Consequently, the natural hair of Black people was framed as not being beautiful or “unprofessional.”
Today, biases and prejudices are still very much a part of society. Privileged people with conservative views use these stereotypes to justify discrimination and microaggressions against Black people.
The Overview of the CROWN Act
In 2019, Dove and the CROWN Coalition created the CROWN Act. The abbreviation stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The mission of the Act is to advance anti-discrimination legislation across the United States.
Positive changes are certainly happening. California was the first state to ban discrimination based on hairstyles in the workplace. Hair discrimination is now illegal in the following states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Wearing locs may be viewed by some Black people as a way to spiritually connect to their African identity. Natural hair is beautiful, and American society needs to work towards challenging stereotypes.
If you face hair-related discrimination, there is help available. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization that can walk you through your legal rights and help you file a complaint.
If you have always wanted to get locs, you should know that you aren’t alone. Black people are increasingly embracing the beauty of natural hair and opposing hair-based discrimination. At Locsanity, we strive to support you on your locs journey. Contact us today to learn more!