If it is wrong to judge someone by the color of their skin, it should also be unacceptable to discriminate against them for the texture or style of their natural hair. Makes sense, right?
Unfortunately, Black people have had to deal with codes and rules that prevent them from wearing natural, protective hairstyles at school and in the workplace. According to the CROWN Act, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.
Black women are also 80% more likely than white women to agree with the following statement: “I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.”
Most of the policing of Black hair has centered around protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots. Protective styles are worn to grow healthier, longer hair, and to reduce split ends, knotting, and damage.
It’s unimaginable that people have had to face scrutiny for protecting their hair.
Earlier this year, Ida Nelson’s four-year-old son, Gus Hawkins IV (affectionately known as Jett), asked if he could put his hair in braids and she was happy to do it for him. “(Jett) was so excited, he wanted to go to school and show the teacher because that’s what 4-year-olds want to do — show his friends and his teachers his cool hair,” Nelson told Today.
But when he went to school with his hair in braids she was told it was a dress code violation. Jett attends Providence St. Mel School, an independent school in the West Side neighborhood of Chicago that has a predominantly Black student body.
“I said, ‘We still have policies related to Black hair in 2021, as an all-Black school? I’m really shocked about that,'” she told Today of the conversation with the school. “We have progressed, we have so much more information. … I thought surely this school would understand the trauma associated with policing Black hair and absolutely not have a policy like that.”