Do you remember growing up when Mom leaned you over the sink to wash your hair for church on Sunday morning? Hair maintenance was a weekend love story that ended with a smile that I can’t touch in the mirror.
What you didn’t know then is that hair says something about a person’s personality. It’s more than a look. The consciousness of the Black Panther movement would have been different if Angela Davis had rocked a Jheri Curl.
Often times, we don’t spend enough time thinking about the importance of how our textured hair grows thick and strong naturally, and sometimes defiantly, but it seems like others are. They don’t like what it represents: our strength, our individuality, our resilience. They want us to subjugate it with chemicals or hide it under wigs or weaves. They fear the release and freedom of what our naturally textured manes represent.
“Braid it, tie it, crochet it, the Senegalese twist it. It’s your hair,” says Adjoa B. Asamoah, social and legislative impact strategist for the CROWN Coalition. “Far too many of our children have missed school, are suspended, [and have] had negative educational experiences because of the hair. It’s crazy on many levels. It’s absurd.
But today, July 3, marks National CROWN Day — the second anniversary of the signing of the CROWN Act — a law that declares racial discrimination illegal in an attempt to “Create a respectful and open world.” for natural hair ”. Since its initial passage in California, 13 states and 29 municipalities have now passed the law, and a federal bill was recently introduced to the House and Senate in March.
The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance founded by Dove, the National Urban League, the Western Center on Law & Poverty and Color Of Change, hosted a full day of virtual events, including an awards show and afterparty. “We are able to change society if we prioritize being a force for good. In these critical times, we must ask ourselves, “How can we help? How can we, our brands, be useful and help improve people’s lives? This means getting out of the survival mode of “How do we grow up and make money?” “To” How can we really have a positive impact? »Said Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and COO of Beauty and Personal Care North America at Unilever (Dove’s parent company).
Bracey started at Unilever in 2018, the same year the country saw countless media reports of Caucasians essentially applying Eurocentric hairstyling standards to our community. Take for example: Chastity Jones in Alabama lost a job offer because she refused to cut her locs; Louisiana 6th Grader Faith Fennidy was kicked out of a Catholic school in tears for wearing braided extensions, with the parish educational institution qualifies the hairstyle as unacceptable; and the following year, New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced by a referee to cut off his locs or forfeit. Bracey was appalled at how the natural beauty of our community was viewed as inferior to other beauty standards imposed on us. She enlisted her business in the call to action. “The conversation with Dove [to do something] was easy. We have always been known for the inclusiveness of beauty.
Bracey hired Asamoah to develop the legislative movement. “I know the psychological impact of being told the way you were born was wrong,” says Asamoah, also a registered psychologist who started her career working in K-12 education and juvenile justice. . “I do cheesy things like figuring out the makeup of a legislature and where it’s most likely to go, when is the right time.” This is also the person to have on your team when you need people to sponsor the invoice. “I don’t have to knock on doors to get things done. I called my friends that I work with in a number of different spaces and asked them to join me in this fight on behalf of the CROWN Coalition. An example: New York was the second to pass the CROWN Act because Asamoah called a Delta Soror Sigma Theta, who called her college line sister, MP Tremaine Wright. “But this is part of a larger campaign to also change the culture and the narrative. I don’t want people to think hair discrimination based on race is new. This problem is not new. Fonting black bodies to include black hair is not a new concept. We are tackling it now, legally, by banning it. But the problem is older than me.
In 1786, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Esteban Rodriguez Miró, passed the Tignon Law, a measure that forced black women to cover their glorious manes with a headscarf shaped like a turban in an attempt to diminish their natural beauty and reduce their stature in society. Fast forward to this week: International Swimming Federation (FINA) rejected use of black-owned mark Soul cap, a swim cap designed to hug the thickness of highly textured hair, whether natural, braided or in locs, during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The federation said the caps do not match “the natural shape of the head” and that to their knowledge “athletes participating in international events have never used or required caps of this size and size. this configuration “.
Danielle Obe, founding member of the UK Black Swimming Association, tell the Guardian the decision highlighted the systemic and institutional inequalities inherent in water sports. “We believe this confirms a lack of diversity in [aquatic sports], “she said.” We need the space and volume that products like Soul Caps allow. Inclusiveness is realizing that no head shape is ‘normal’. Regulatory Speedo swim cap doesn’t work for very curly or coiled hair, she notes, because heavily textured hair “grows and defies gravity.”
The FINA decision does not only affect Olympians, however, swimmers of all ages will be prohibited from wearing the caps at local competitions. This move has the potential to discourage natural-haired swimmers from continuing to compete. Which leads us to think: is it all about our hair or are they worried that we will soon dominate another sports category that they also currently rule over? (It’s the power of our roots!)
“I don’t want to have to put things in my hair to meet Eurocentric beauty standards; to be able to exercise a gainful activity or to be mobile upwards; or to progress in my career; or play sports, or have a positive educational experience. We, [at the Crown Coalition,] tackle all of this, ”says Asamoah emphatically.
PS Here are the states where the CROWN law has not been adopted: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Carolina South, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Is your condition one of them? Sign it petition to spread the word, and watch the inaugural CROWN Awards today, July 3 at 7 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. PST here on EBONY.com for more.