The Case for Natural Hair

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The Case for Natural Hair

Rayna Cason, Writer

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How come the only time that African American hairstyles are ghetto is when we are wearing them? 

When Kim Kardashian wears “boxer braids,” it is trendy and cute, but when a black woman wears that same hairstyle, she could possibly get fired. When thinking of natural hairstyles, I also think of braids, locs, afros and many others.

Who has the right to say which hairstyles are acceptable? 

Hairstyle discrimination is an issue that many African Americans have faced in the workplace. News anchor, Brittany Nobel, from Jackson, Miss., was dismissed after filing a complaint against her supervisor, who did not allow her to wear her natural hair. 

Initially, Nobel had gotten permission to stop straightening her hair. However, in Nobel’s personal essay, she wrote, “A month after giving me the green light I was told ‘My natural hair is unprofessional and the equivalent to [her supervisor] throwing on a baseball cap to go to the grocery store.”

According to Nobel, her supervisor said that Mississippi viewers needed to see a beauty queen,  implying her natural hair made her look less elegant. 

Andrew Johnson, a 16-year-old high school wrestler from New Jersey, was ordered to chop off his locs or forfeit his match. The referee decided while Johnson was wrestling, his locs were inappropriate. Johnson is black. The referee is white.

The story made the national news, and caused an uproar. The black community was outraged. The white community didn’t understand.

Hair is a fundamental part of a black person’s identity, and, presumably, the referee didn’t understand that. Black people use their hairstyles as a personal representation of who they are and to reveal the development of black culture over time, a growth that has delivered us to a time when black people continue to embrace the natural attraction of their hair. 

California is one state that recognizes how significant hair is to black culture. California is the first state to ban discrimination based on natural hairstyles. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the crown act into law alongside State Senator Holly Mitchell. This is a movement that the rest of the states need to support. 

 

You can be an informed ally, if you follow a few tips:

  •       Don’t pretend it isn’t happening,
  •       Speak up
  •       Be aware of hairstyle discrimination. 

It might be simple to disregard hairstyle discrimination as real discriminatory if it isn’t happening to you.

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