The Crown Affair: From Afro's & Braids to Wigs , Part 1
Ban Discrimination Based On One’s Natural Hair
Hair for a woman has always been her crown and glory. Whatever the texture maybe we will invest countless dollars to coiffe our hair.
Black women have always faced countless challenges when it comes to their hair from society--from their choice of style, processing products to texturizers; which would include products we would use to enhance, tame, or bring out the best of our God-given tres. But historically Black people have had to explain, excuse their hair appearance for centuries. California became the first state to have ban discrimination based on one’s natural hair.
"Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed a bill into law that legally protects people in workplaces and K-12 public schools from discrimination based on their natural hair. The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, prohibits the enforcement of grooming policies that disproportionately affect people of color, particularly black people. This includes bans on certain styles, such as Afros, braids, twists, cornrows, and dreadlocks — or locs for short." La Times.
New York became the second state in the US to ban discrimination based on our natural hair.
Think of the seriousness of this conversation. People lost their jobs or were denied the ability to earn a living because of the texture of their hair. They were dealing with discrimination based on the perception of what their hair texture or style represented as a specific group of people.
Can you imagine needing a law to be passed giving you permission to wear your hair in its natural state that God created it to grow out of your head?
It goes even further--there were limited options when it came to hair products available on the market out for our hair on the market less than 20 years ago. The shelves in any given department store maybe had one shelf if that much. I can remember the days when AfroSheen, Dark & Lovely, Luster's Pink Lotion, Dax Pomade, and lord the one and only all-purpose Vaseline.
Thankfully things have changed for the better and we have a plethora of options from Miss Jessie, Mix Chicks, Jane Carter Solution, Karen's Body Beautiful, Dickie's Hair Rules, and Oh My Heavenly Hair some of my favorites, and every one of them I have had the pleasure of trying at some stage of my hair journey.
My hair is my personal crown no matter what stage of my life--It is my superpower. How others saw me judge me--it greatly impacts how I feel about myself and how I thought society saw me which spoke volumes. Debra Hare-Bey is one of the beauty industry's respected hairstylists and one of the artists that helped me through my transitions. It started with braids.
I am My Hair
What about our hair as Black women demands we have this discussion about our "natural hair"? What does it represent to society and how can we navigate our career and our daily lives without it being a threat to those that question it?
It is a discussion worth investigating. Especially after a young African-American school-age teen on the New Jersey wrestling team was forced to cut his locs in order to participate. Acts such as these forced Debra's hand to work harder to promote the beauty of our hair. Debra Hare-Bey and an army of natural hairstylists have dedicated their life work to ensure that we today celebrate our beauty in all our glory no matter our hair texture. She went as far as to create International I Love Braids Day which is celebrated on July 29th of every year. Debra is best known for creating the signature look for Erika Alexander--Maxine of Living Single who most recently credited her for doing so on social media.
Her work has graced the pages of countless fashion magazines before focusing on creating her own line of products that are completely vegan--OMHH.
As we get closer to celebrating Black History Month, followed by Women's Month, we should thank so many pioneers who took a stand for so much so we can live free in our natural beauty.
Icons such as the late Cicely Tyson embraced their beauty, made bold statements, and reminded us of how beautiful we all are in all our natural glory.
I want to close this article by celebrating Miss Pam Grier whose beauty for me represented everything I ever wanted to be. She was the gateway to so much that could be done with our strength, our beauty, and our hair. So representation does matter--up to our hair.
So can you imagine my joy when I had the opportunity to do her nails in my glorious days of being a celebrity manicurist to later meeting her for an appearance for her book speaking engagement and signing? So representation does matter. Fall in love with your natural crown, braids, weave, or wig--own your beauty.