Home » Hair discrimination laws: A reprieve from the crime of knowing and loving ourselves

Hair discrimination laws: A reprieve from the crime of knowing and loving ourselves

by The Grio

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Know thyself. These words were written on the monuments and walls of our African ancestors for a reason. Long ago, these ancient luminaries knew well the inherent and transformative value of a knowledge of self, the indelible significance of knowing your own culture, where you come from and who you are. Without such knowledge, it would be very hard to know where you are going. 

That acknowledged, how can a group of people who were kidnapped from their native land, brutally enslaved in an unfamiliar place and regarded by law as inhuman begin to know themselves? Especially when cultural aspects as natural as our own hair have been targeted to further discriminate against us and prevent us from embracing our own culture?

Last week, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs signed an executive order to end race-based hair discrimination, stating, “For far too long Black women, men, and children have been deprived of educational and employment opportunities for wearing their natural hair… Today, I am issuing an Executive Order that demonstrates the need to prioritize the protection of culture, and allows individuals to show up as their true selves without being subjected to race-based hair discrimination.”

Hobbs’ law is based on the CROWN Act — which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” — a legal framework that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, a far-too-common practice of denying jobs and school opportunities based on natural hair texture or cultural expression. The 2023 CROWN Workplace Research Study found that approximately two-thirds of Black women change their hair for a job interview due to past or potential discrimination. Since the act’s 2019 introduction by the Crown Coalition in California, similar laws have been adopted in…

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