The CROWN Act Makes Our Hair Just as Protected as Race, Sex, and Religious Beliefs

Eggleston Bracey: “She was oppressed, honey. She was down.”

Cruel: “My hair has been oppressed many a time. What are your memories around hair from growing up?”

Carroll Foy: “I remember my grandmother sitting me in the kitchen chair. I had to be all of, like, five or six when I had my first perm. It burned, and I remember thinking, Why do we do this to ourselves? I have no problem with what my hair looks like, but clearly everyone else does. It sends a negative message that how you are is not okay.”

Cruel: “How do you think the CROWN Act is going to affect the way our own community sees natural hair?”

Eggleston Bracey: “I think you start changing legislation, then you can start to change the culture. I’ve been natural for years, but my mother was like, ‘Girl, what is wrong with you? They are gonna fire you with your hair like that.’ [Our parents] were scared. It’s the same thing from slavery. You learn that the more compliant you could be, the better your life would be. So how does the CROWN Act make a difference? It legitimizes the fact that our hair is great the way it is.”

Brown: “With our parents and grandparents, it was fear. You can’t do anything that makes you look stronger. The moment that we take our power back, we know what true freedom is. What it boils down to: You can’t free part of us and not all of us.”

Carroll Foy: “It also has to do with addressing the systemic racism that has happened for generations. It is about three things: economics, empowerment, and equity. The economic piece is that we shouldn’t have to get a perm to get a permanent job. The empowerment piece is about setting that new normal, which is natural [hair]. The equity is eliminating the policing of Black bodies.”

Cruel: “Why do you think our hair needs to be a protected class?”

Brown: “I think when you try to get us to change our hair you’re trying to erase our culture. Our hair is part of our culture. We share things, especially us natural-hair women. We know how, when you go to wash and detangle, you’ve got to do it in sections. We know how you can’t air-dry without a conditioner on. These are things that we relate to and understand. And that’s ours.”

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