According to the Los Angeles Times, the long-running practice of Black workers being humiliated or even fired from their jobs, and students kicked out of predominantly white schools because of their natural hair, has finally come to an end.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) was the main driver behind the act which is now known as the “Crown Act”. This act makes discrimination in schools and workplaces against hairstyles that are majorly recognized as African American, including afros, braids, twists, cornrows, and dreadlocks illegal.
The bill went through a unanimous passage in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
Expressing her excitement, Sen. Mitchell said that the law protects the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms.
For Mitchell, the issue reached a head in December 2018 during a wrestling match in New Jersey. The referee had made it a choice for Andrew Johnson, a Black wrestler, to choose between cutting off his dreadlocks or forfeiting the match.
The video of the referee standing watch as Johnson lost his hair went viral. Johnson ended up winning the match, however, his parents expressed their fears to CNN on the effects of such an experience long-term.
New Jersey has similar legislation, along with New York, which outlawed this worrying measure in February according to CNN. In the case of New York, this new legislation was added to their already existing anti-discrimination laws.
For Mitchell, this act prevents the use of potentially damaging chemicals for no other reason than to satisfy the comfort of others. With this act, the existing standards of professional hairstyles in the workplace and schools are being redefined.
“For us, it is a symbol of who we are. I know when I locked 15 years ago, I knew it was both a social and political statement to the outside world,” she said in her statement to the Los Angeles Times
It would amaze most people in the world, why a non-significant factor such as natural hair should cause political, racial and social tensions in America, the land of the free.
Most people would find it silly for anyone (white or black), to make an issue out of the natural hair of men and women of color in America. It’s absurd to think of.
But that is the reality that many have had to live within America. Many of the victims of this hair discrimination, are shamed for their natural hair or disallowed to work or participate in certain sports.
This discrimination towards hair has been given racial connotations since it affects people of color more. But the question remains: what has natural hair done to you? That question goes to the racists who use the hair card in frustrating others.
News such as these gladden the heart and appease those who have faced the harsh social discriminations that come with having a beautiful and thick hair. To people such as these, we say “congratulations.” This is a victory well deserved.
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