Discrimination. We understand it to be the unjust or prejudicial treatment of people or things based on race, age, sex, or gender, or sexual orientations. But did you know that some people face discrimination based on their hair?
Unilever North America’s brand Dove founded Dove CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Research and they determined that hair discrimination happens against Black children as young as five years old, with 86 percent of Black teens saying they have been discriminated against based on their hair by age 12.
This discrimination, microaggressions, and bullying create trauma, which keeps kids from attending school. Dove CROWN Research has found that nonattendance due to hair satisfaction can add up to one week each year.
But it isn’t just children suffering hair discrimination. Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. Additionally, Black women are 30 percent more likely to be made award of a formal workplace appearance policy.
And 80 percent of Black women feel they have to change their hair from its natural state, to fit in at the office or to meet social norms. (Natural state refers to have that is coiled, kinky, tight curly as opposed to permed, dyed, relaxed, or chemically altered.)
The research has shown that hair discrimination affects Black people’s perception of themselves, their performance, and their prospective academic or career trajectory.
In 2019, the Crown Coalition and Dove, in conjunction with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, created the Crown Act to “ensure protection against discrimination 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.”
California passed the Crown Act (called SB-188) in 2019 and New York was the second state to sign the bill into law. And then New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, Maine, Tennessee, Massachusetts followed suite. Similar bills were passed in New Mexico, Nebraska, Oregon, Illinois, Louisiana, and Alaska. And in March of this year, the federal CROWN Act bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But now, the federal bill awaits the vote in the Senate.
“These biases continue to perpetuate unfair scrutiny and discrimination against Black women and girls for wearing hairstyles inherent to our culture. This is unacceptable and why it is imperative that everyone join the movement to make hair discrimination illegal nationwide through the passage of The CROWN Act,” says EVP & COO of Unilever North America Esi Eggleston Bracey.
Ways to Take Action Against Hair Discrimination
- Dove has a petition they would like people to sign (Click the word sign to get to the petition) that urges lawmakers across the country to end hair discrimination in the workplace, schools, and in pools.
- They also encourage you to vote. As they say, “Currently, across the board, our human rights are under attack. The general election is fast approaching on November 8, 2022. There is a website to find out how to vote online, learn the deadlines for absentee or online voting, and more. Exercising our right to vote is the only way we can ensure we have elected officials who represent our views. The website ishttps://www.vote411.org/ and we urge you to check it out and vote.”
- You can e-mail or tweet in support of this issue, using the hashtag #passthecrown.
- You can e-mail your senator urging them to vote in favor of The Crown Act. Click here to be taken to the form letter.
- You can speak up in school or at the pool, or in the workplace when you see someone being discriminated against because of their hair.