By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
It is sad that in the year of 2022, bills and laws must be made to prevent discrimination against the African American race. Discrimination is not a stranger to African Americans as we’ve been dealing with this for many years. One recent bill that was passed was the CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful World for Natural Hair. This bill “prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair.”
Hair has always been an important part of the African American culture. It is deeply rooted in our culture, and we take great pride in the versatility of our hair. I find it ridiculous that a bill has to be made in order for African American women to wear natural hairstyles. Over the years, some women have even been hesitant to wear their natural hair or natural hairstyles in the workplace. I know I have. It was noted that, “A 2019 study conducted by the JOY Collective said Black women were 80% more likely to feel pressure to change their hairstyles in order to fit in at the office.”
I’ve personally experienced hesitation for years about wearing natural hairstyles in the workplace. For many years, I had a relaxer to keep my hair straight, and I was told by different people at a young age to keep it straight for job interviews so I can look “professional.” This notion made me self-conscious about wearing my natural hair and other natural hairstyles. It also made me feel like others would judge me because my hair was not “straight.”
The idea of having straight hair was so that we could blend in and conform to what was deemed “acceptable.” It all started with the invention of the hot comb, which is known to be created by Madam C.J. Walker. Then there was the invention of the chemical relaxer by Garret Augustus Morgan Sr., who is known to have discovered his invention by accident. It was tools like these that have made some black women in society feel as if they needed these items to manage their hair and look “professional.”
It has been noted that the natural hair movement started with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and came back alive during the early and mid-2000s. The natural movement came back in full effect and has been steady ever since, as I have seen more and more black women wearing their natural hair. Whether it is in commercials, or in the workplace, more and more black women are proudly wearing their natural hair, and it feels good to see. In addition, this includes men who may want to wear different natural styles such as an afro, braids, twist, and so much more.
Our natural hair is beautiful, and it is important that we instill this message into every black woman and man. This also includes our young black men, especially our young black women who may feel like they need relaxers, weave, etc., to fit in or to even feel beautiful. I tell my daughter all the time that she is beautiful, and her hair is beautiful so that no man can destroy or try to change who she is. Someone once said, “We don’t go natural, we return. Natural is where it began.”