December 1, 2023

Protecting our ‘Crown and Glory’

Billy Preston with afro. Courtesy, Wikipedia

It’s something to be said about the “souls of Black folks” and there’s even more to be said about our “crowns and glories.”  And since “Forever had a first name,” the uniqueness of the kinky, curly, thickness which sits atop our heads has been a source of our pride since we came from the Mother Land.

Braids, twists, dreadlocks, afros – you name it – we rock it–  and have been under attack since the white establishment has been hell bent on trying to separate us from our heritage.

Blacks – especially in corporate America – have been made to believe they needed to straighten, hot comb, Brazilian blow out, perm and “fry, dye and lay to the side” our hair to be more in alignment with the European (white) standard of beauty and acceptance.  That is, until the “natural hair revolution” exploded and, over the last half decade or so, our new generation picking back up where our Afro-coiffed to perfection Brothers and Sisters left off in the 1970’s.

Now, the revolution is aiming to “legally” protect our natural manes, without discrimination.

On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court  joined the national movement to guarantee county employees the right to work in an environment that remains open and respectful to natural hair by adopting a CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act resolution. This resolution calls for the county’s human resources department to develop updated personnel language that specifically prohibits natural hair discrimination.

“There is a long history of discrimination against natural hairstyles, particularly those worn by people of African descent,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who sponsored the resolution. “This has been an issue in the military, corporate America and schools. Students have been suspended from schools – including some in the Houston area – for the way their hair looks.”

Last year, the U.S. House passed the CROWN Act that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations and employment. The Senate hasn’t voted on the Act.

Fourteen states, and at least 29 local governments, have adopted the CROWN Act or similar language, Commissioner Ellis said. During the regular Texas Legislative session, Reps. Rhetta Bowers and Ron Reynolds introduced a bill modeled after the CROWN Act, which had over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors.

“This bill is not state law yet,” Commissioner Ellis said. “But, I am proud that Harris County is leading the way by setting a policy for a respectful workplace environment for natural hair.



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