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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