The Crown Act is an Important Step Towards the Normalization of Black Hair
In high school, I attended a private Christian school. Like any other school, it had its restrictions. Some of them had to do with hair. I believe it was against the rules to wear colors that weren't naturally occurring hair colors. For example, reds were ok, but blues or greens were not. The boys could not wear their hair down past their shoulders and it couldn’t be over a certain height.
I disliked these rules. They all vexed me, even though some had nothing to do with me.
Why do we have all these restrictions on hair? What’s the deal with policing hair?
It comes from this idea that there is a set image that we should present. They’re like norms. We should wear our hair this way or wear these kinds of clothes this certain way or another. Where do these norms come from?
Well, historically, in America, whiteness — Europeanism.
Companies may want to present this set image. And for so long, that image has been White, and for so long, people have strived to get as close to that image as possible, believing it to be more high class. When you can get there, you’ve upgraded.
So naturally, some companies want that high-class appeal. They want to show that apparent neatness that comes with whiteness. And apparently, Black hair does not fit that description.
The Afro is seen as an untamed entity.
That’s what they’re saying when they ask you to put your hair in a style or straighten it. Whether they know it or not, they are insulting you.
You see, when a little Black girl is told to tame her hair, she is being told that her hair in its natural state brushed out state is not enough. She has to go the extra step to be accepted. Meanwhile, her white peer’s natural state is automatically accepted. What’s that about?
Now, I know not everyone cares about luxury or high classness, but I also know that most people do not like being devalued either.
We are not at the same starting line, me and my white peers. In each of our lanes, there are different obstacles. Sometimes it looks like my hurdles are just more worrisome or challenging. And all this is because I am not the norm.
I’d think in a perfect world, diversity would be the norm. But this world is far from perfect. And it seems as though countries can only handle a few ethnicities and colors being the standard at one time.
We need to see Black natural hair in our companies. We need to see Black natural hair in our schools. We need to see Black natural hair on our news stations. Let my brothers and sisters breathe!
Because my hair kinks and coils, it is less presentable? Do my braids offend you? Really?
It’s all a cycle. If you keep Black hair from these spaces, normalization doesn’t happen. The standards stay the same. And years from now, companies will still be abiding by the same standards and norms. Rise, wash, repeat.
The Crown Act is an important step towards the normalization of Black hair.
But is it enough?
In short, no it’s not.
It was passed by the House of Representatives just a few months ago and prohibits discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyle. It is the first of its kind to be enacted at the federal level.
The Crown Act is a chance for Black hair to boldly enter those spaces and stop the cycle. And I am thankful for it.
But after that, what’s next?
Well, we can’t celebrate entirely yet. The Senate still has to pass it.
But regardless of it getting passed or not, the next step is the shifting of public perspective. By having more Black hair in these spaces, this may happen naturally. Laws are only useful if people follow them. So let’s be honest and open with each other about this. Let’s hold people accountable.
I want to see the stop of workplace discrimination in my generation. It’s an ambitious goal, but we can hope.
Stop keeping Black hair from these spaces. Stop policing our hair. It’s hair. Let it be just that, so we can worry about other things, more important things. The world is much bigger than (most of) our fros, and they shouldn't stop us from getting jobs, going to school, or being treated like actual human beings.