Every morning Black women are faced with the difficult task of searching for the perfect persona for the office.
Various facial Expressions hang on the wall like a wig display at the beauty supply providing the comfortability for the fragile community.
The key is to select a persona that is not too aggressive, too passive, eccentric aka ghetto, or nonchalant to be expressed in meetings.
“How do you know which black girl you have to be? I am exhausted” the plight of black women everywhere.
Every aspect of my life is based on the opinions of others. In an attempt to “fit” into a role to avoid the micro-aggressions from our counterparts, we lose our individuality and creativity. Not to mention that Black women are always met by the curious cat asking redundant questions such as, “Is this your real hair”.
The greatest flex of the Black woman is our hair.
The infatuation with Black women’s hair began as early as slavery and its negative effects have lingered into the present. Before emancipation, hair wraps were required to hide Black women’s hair. It was used to make Black women appear less attractive to their owners. We all know that wrap would not distract the attention they would receive. They exhibited a natural beauty that other women could never achieve. As of today, not much has changed except the scenery. Working in traditional office spaces, many Black women feel the need to anglicize their temperament, attire and of course their hair. Even today, some businesses ban employees from wearing “locs, braids and other acrocentric styles” at the office. These restrictions do not qualify as racial discrimination according to recent appeal rules.
My ancestors were taken to foreign lands and forced to submit to European standards of beauty. The incredible strain that is placed on Black women’s hair to look a certain way at work has become tiresome. The narrative of some Black women is not to become comfortable with their cultural identity but to have manageable hair at any cost. I am not referring to whether natural hair is better than relaxed hair but the fact some identify with straight hair with professionalism. This perspective has even found its way into our schools restricting braids at the schools. Luckily, the CROWN act was created for this reason
Crown Act: Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair
The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools. (thecrownact.com)
The legislation was filed for the CROWN Act, but the law did not pass in Texas. Residing in the 4th largest city in America, Houstons, we feel the pressure daily to conform to the limited box of what society considers professional. The CROWN Act has the potential to change what is acceptable in their place of employment or denied educational opportunities due to hair texture/style. They have a petition you can sign to join the journey of the CROWN Act as it becomes a law to protect natural hair across the United States. They also have several resources that can assist in formatting letters to your state and federal legislators or assist with locating help if you have experienced discrimination.
My hair is often the point of conversation of those that are not blessed with the crown of kinks and coils. They are fascinated at the intricate designs of our hair not realizing the internal effects of their subtle expectations have on our creativity. These decisions are made by individuals who do not look like me nor do they have my experiences. My hair is an expression of my individuality, creativity and my overall will to be great. I look forward to the day that I am no longer limited by stereotypes of my appearance but recognized by my authenticity.