After having an open and honest discussion with the class about their feelings on hair discrimination I was able to understand this topic from a different point of view. I can say everyone agreed on the consensus of hair discrimination being wrong and possibly racially motivated. There is no particular reason for a person of color to be discriminated against because of their hair other than there being some type of hate that motivated the situation. A few points that some people made such as wearing certain looks like a protective style or how some hairstyles are used to honor religion therefore it can’t always just be removed. For a professional at work, or a student at school to be removed because of the texture of their hair is beyond ridiculous as it isn’t harming anyone. This type of situation can be embarrassing and emotionally damaging for some people to just flat out be told their hair is an issue, which is why the Crown Act was put in place to protect people of color. While doing my research it didn’t come as a shock to me that Black women were the most likely to experience hair discrimination, it made me reflect on some issues I’ve experienced with my hair being a problem at school. Although this may not seem like a big deal to some it is a real issue that affects people every day. It can be damaging to many to be removed from school or work because an administrator or boss has told you something is wrong with your look when you’re just trying to do your job. I chose this topic because it was something I wasn’t aware of until doing work for another class, once I found out this was an issue around the U.S I wanted to know more about it and I learned it’s deeper than just discrimination. This issue ties into cultural appropriation on social media, fashion, and in real life, while people of color are getting fired for having the looks they’re appropriating.
Hair discrimination is a form of social justice found worldwide that targets specifically Black people who have afro-textured hair that hasn’t been chemically straightened. Since the movement started to gain traction the Crown Act also known as Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair was passed. This law prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle and texture. Minorities have suffered through this for years and a recent study found that African American women face the highest instances of hair discrimination and are more likely to be sent home because of their hair.
Hair discrimination to only occurs in workplaces but outside of there as well. Aside from people of color being discriminated against at work teenagers and children as young as elementary school is being affected by this. Children and teens have had their education disrupted by suspension, detention, and sometimes expulsion for having a certain hairstyle on their head. As outrageous as it sounds it occurs around America and the most recent incident involved DeAndre Arnold, an 18-year-old from Belvieu, Texas faced missing his high school prom as well as graduation for refusing to cut his dreadlocks just recently in January 2020. Another harsh example involved Andrew Johnson a high schooler from New Jersey who was forced to cut his dreadlocks during a wrestling match by a white referee. These are just some of the few examples of hair discrimination around the U.S. It is completely inappropriate for a member of the student, faculty, or staff to comment on a child’s hair, especially if it is motivated.
Students, professionals at work, and other places have been discriminated against, demoted, or even removed from work or school because of their hair texture. When people choose to call out the way a person on color hair looks they aren’t understanding the true effects of their actions. Because pin-straight hair is deemed as “normal” people without afro-textured hair are constantly getting called out for looking different. Sometimes the effects of these actions can be embarrassing and emotional for anyone who is just going about their day with their hair.
Despite the ongoing discrimination towards people of color’s hair texture, fashion brands, influencers, and celebrities have been seen sporting traditionally known African American hairstyles. Looks such as dreadlocks, cornrows, twist, and laid edges have been seen on white influencers as well as white models on the runway. Designers such as Marc Jacobs have been seen sending models on the runway with dreadlocks.
Other fashion designers have been caught appropriating African American cultures and hairstyles without understanding the history and tradition that stands behind them. The issue here aside from cultural appropriation is the problem surrounding how people of color are looked down upon for having the same looks. The problem at hand is it’s okay for African American culture to be appropriated but it’s not accepted. Not only fashion designers but celebrities and influences have been seen sporting some looks such as the Kardashians/ Jenners, and other social media stars. If young children are being inspired by these white influencers to wear their hair a certain way why are children of color are penalized for it.
Is hair discrimination racial discrimination? Some can argue that if it’s part of a uniform or policy it is right but not if it’s only disproportionally affected African Americans. Many other states around the U.S have decided to enforce the Crown Act to prevent further discrimination against people of color, whether they are at work, school, or on the street, it is inappropriate to discriminate against someone’s hair.