Hair is one of the least controversial natural features we have – or so one would like to think. Our hair provides protection, sensory input, thermoregulation, and communication about who we are.
The hair on our head has the primary purpose of protecting the skull from the sun and comes in a variety of colors and textures.
This is where controversy arises, particularly among people of African descent.
Much like skin, hair gets its color from the pigment melanin, whose structure is genetically determined by climate, which explains why people of African descent have thicker, coarser hair to protect them from the sun.
As we age, melanin production decreases and hair tends to lose color and turn grey, beginning a new chapter. Men and women are often referred to as silver foxes and they tend to gain similar appeal to Jamie Lee Curtis, Nichelle Nichols, George Clooney and Idris Elba.
It is troubling that last Friday the US House of Representatives had to pass legislation to create a respectful and open world for natural hair (Crown) by a vote of 235 to 189. It has now been sent to the Senate. If passed, the law would outlaw discrimination against hairstyles in occupations, government-sponsored programs, housing programs, and public housing. The law was passed to change the culture of hair discrimination, which predominantly affects black Americans.
The US has a history of over 400 years of people of African descent, yet such a law needs to be passed in 2022.
For research has proven what is undeniable and troubling – that people of African descent are routinely denied educational and employment opportunities for wearing their hair in its natural form or in hairstyles such as afros, braids, cornrows, locs or twists.
For those who have not faced hair discrimination, it may be difficult to understand. It happens overtly and covertly in schools against children, against adults seeking work, and throughout a person’s life when trying to access public or private services.
No doubt there are those in positions of authority who assume that a person with frizzy or braided hair is not a suitable employee and lacks professionalism compared to a person with straight blonde or light brown hair.
It is illogical for anyone to be discriminated against at any level because of the texture or style of their hair, the only logical explanation for such views is socialization.
In 2018, Andrew Johnson, a black collegiate high school wrestler in New Jersey who had dreadlocks, was forced out a white referee to cut his hair in the middle of a game in front of everyone or to give up his game.
I hope that the passage of similar legislation to the Crown Act in other countries will protect young children from being told “your natural hair is inappropriate”, being penalized or expelled from school for not meeting Eurocentric standards.
During the passage of the historic bill, Rep. Cori Bush shared her experience of being discriminated against because of her hair, saying, “As a black woman who loves my braids, I know what it’s like to feel isolated because I have mine.” wear hair. This is the last time we black people feel like we have to straighten our hair to be considered professional.”
The hair straightening and black hair care industry is a trillion dollar industry that has created wealth, including that of Madam CJ Walker, who founded her company in 1910 to become America’s first self-made millionaire. Women of African descent have invested in innovative hair straightening treatments that are sold around the world to pursue white standards of beauty.
It was not uncommon to find women crammed into a salon, covering their mouths with rags to avoid inhaling fumes while barbers doused their hair in formaldehyde or lye products, now proven carcinogens, to achieve a pin-smooth look to achieve .
A 25-year study conducted by Boston University found that frequent and long-term use of toxic hair straightening products or relaxants increased the risk of breast cancer in black women.
The sad reality is that there are still women with afro textured hair who continue to use these products, fully aware of the health risks, for fear of losing their jobs and social acceptance.
In the UK and elsewhere, black people are still profiled, penalized and disfellowshipped for wearing their natural hairstyle. It could be a young person who is called into the principal’s office to dye their hair red or blonde, while their classmate who was brunette on Friday comes to school blonde on Monday but doesn’t get a reprimand. In the workplace, reports of endured insensitive comments and views about Afrocentric hairstyle choices have created a toxic work environment for those affected.
In recent years, many women of African descent have chosen to go natural, such as Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi and BBC reporter Lukwesa Burak, who said: “I was panicking before reading the BBC news in my Afro.”
Irish journalist Ola Majekodunmi has also spoken about the racism black people experience at school, in the workplace and with their hair.
you and many others Women leaders are normalizing the acceptance of natural hair and it’s also a way of reconnecting with their heritage.
Perhaps the discrimination against natural black hair and hairstyles stems from the knowledge that enslaved women braided messages and escape routes into their hair.
Perhaps wearing black hair in its natural form is seen as a bold proclamation of one’s identity, free from the shackles of Eurocentric standards.
Whatever the reason for the hostile treatment of black hair, the US move The passage of the Crown Act law is very positive and sets a precedent worldwide that the way a black person wears their hair is not a measure of their humanity, ability or professionalism.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/its-sad-us-needs-law-to-stop-black-people-facing-discrimination-for-their-hair-style-41472432.html It’s sad that the US needs a law to stop black people being discriminated against because of their hair style