For most of American history, naturally curly black hair has been mistakenly seen as unprofessional or even dirty, especially in the workplace. The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then-California state Senator Holly J. Mitchell, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists and knots in the workplace and public schools.
As a Black woman, you are taught from a young age that your hair is an extension of you. From loose strands to kinky tight nit curls, we are taught to embrace our natural hair and we shall not be defined by it. However as times have changed and you enter society, your hair may be seen as “unprofessional” and “unkempt.”
The first wave of the natural hair movement emerged during the 1960s. The “Black Is Beautiful” movement assured Black women and men that their skin and natural hair were in an exceptional natural state. Activist Marcus Garvey encouraged Black women to embrace their natural kinks, arguing that copying white eurocentric beauty standards denigrated the beauty of Black women. “Don’t remove the kinks from your hair! Remove them from your brain!” From rocking Bantu Knots, a puff, to even braids, black women’s hairstyles have been not only trendsetters for other races but not professional when we do it.
After graduating in May, I had to sit with the decision. To receive the dream job that I want, there is a possibility that I will either have to cut my hair or comb out my beautiful locs that I have been growing for months. Ultimately, I have decided to embrace my natural hair, with the history behind it. Locs, previously known as dreadlocks, represents a renewed sense of pride in African physical characteristics and the power of Blackness that coexist within the belief about keeping things natural.
Just as R&B singer India.Arie said, “I Am Not My Hair” and nothing is dreadful about them.