Talking Hair Discrimination on Capitol Hill

By Orlena Nwokah Blanchard
In May 1, 2019
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We all know about hair discrimination. If not, its highly likely you are sleeping under a rock given the public discourse of the past year. Not everyone paid attention when CJ Stanley and Faith Fennidy were sent home from school last August but it felt like the whole country watched in syncopated awe last December when high school wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced to cut his locs mid wrestling match for honestly no good reason. It was a violent attack with no recourse because such biased and prejudice behavior against African-American protective hairstyles is perfectly legal in the U.S.

Numerous past studies have evaluated the existence of hair bias against black people in America but none have explicitly revealed exactly how hair bias impacts the social and economic mobility of Black people.  Ealier this year the JOY research team conducted the CROWN Research Study on behalf of the Dove brand, a business with a strong commitment to creating a positive beauty experience for Black women. Who knew black women in the workplace were being given grooming policies during the interview process at a rate 25% more than that of other women? And in this day and age of the natural hair movement (we’re working hard to be done with curling our toes from the craziness of burning our scalps with chemical relaxers), Black women still feel pressure to change their natural hair to fit in at work. 80% change their hair to fit in at work. Craaaazy.

Last night in the auditorium at the gorgeous Capitol Visitor Center in Washington D.C., we revealed the finding of Dove’s CROWN (Creating A Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Research Study. It was Dove and the CROWN Coalition’s first public effort to take our advocacy to the Federal Level. There were 200 power-players in attendance from Congressional members, congressional directors and staff, to media partners and researchers. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge opened the evening and then Hon. Yvette Clarke, Co-Chair of our host partner Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, give credit to Dove for leading this work. And wow, and what a drop the mic moment when Louisiana Congressman and former CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond announced his intention to lead the introduction of a federal bill!

It was a great moment.

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On behalf of JOY, we want to personally address and update you on how we at JOY are responding to the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19).  As always, the health and safety of our employees, friends, families, colleagues and clients come first!  We encourage everyone to stay safe and adhere to the government’s requirements and guidance during this unprecedented time.  We are consistently encouraged by the resilience of the American people during trying times, and we know we will overcome this together.

A few key things to note:

  1. Please make sure to stay informed and updated on news developments from official health authorities including Center For Disease Control and World Health Organization to understand and help minimize the spread and impact of  COVID-19.
  2. Check on each other during this time, especially the elderly who are at high-risk.
  3. Don’t sit in front of your computer all day. Meditate, get up, move around – tackle one of those household chores on your TO DO list from 2019.
  4. If you are working from home for the first time, here are some quick tips to help stay productive 1) keep your usual morning routine 2) Get dressed 3) Set up your work space at a table or desk, and most importantly 4) TAKE BREAKS throughout the day.

At this time, our priority is to make sure our JOY team, clients, and partners are safe while maintaining business continuity.  We remain fully prepared to address the needs of our clients as necessary.  One of the greatest things about JOY is that we’ve had a flexible workforce since our launch 6 years ago, and we will continue to service our clients with the excellence we pride ourselves on delivering, while maintaining safe social distancing.

Let’s continue to support and take care of each other as we get through this together.

With positivity and joy,
Kelli and Orlena