Hair has long been considered a woman’s crowning glory, that is especially true for African American women in particular and women of Color in general.
Madame C.J. Walker, earned millions perfecting methods to allow African American women to style and wear their hair to suit the fashion and style of the day.
Unfortunately for longer than most would like to believe, women of color have been discriminated against with regard to how they chose to wear their hair in work environments as well as institutions of higher learning.
No longer, the Tucson City Council recently voted unanimously that discrimination against natural hair in the City of Tucson would not be tolerated. It is now illegal to discriminate against natural hair in Southern Arizona. The City of Tucson joins New Orleans, Kansas City, MO, the state of California, Pittsburgh, and New York (to list a few locales that have ordinances to recognize hair equality in the workplace.
While discussed openly for decades, the Crown Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the Crown Coalition in collaboration and partnership with then California State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, to ensure protection against discrimination based on racial-based hairstyles. California, the Golden State was one of the first states to pass the Crown Act state –wide.
SB188 passed the California Senate on June 27, 2019; the ordinance was in turn passed by the California House of Representatives and signed into law on July 3, 2019.
The Act extends statutory protection for those desiring to wear their hair natural in the workplace or a public school, whether the choice is a unique braid pattern, twists, locs, knots, or a Pam Grier sized Afro
The Tucson Black Women’s Task Force, with close to four-decades of service supporting, promoting and championing opportunities for Black women in the Ole Pueblo worked tirelessly with Tucson Council member Steve Kozachick and Vice-Mayor Nikki Lee to bring the law to fruition.
“We (African American) women have always treasured our hair and the various ways we can wear it. It makes no difference if someone chose to wear their hair natural or straight the freedom should dwell with that person,” noted Annie Sykes, a longtime member and officer of the Tucson Black Women’s Task Force.
“This is a bitter-sweet victory,” Sykes said, adding, “Bitter for all the years and discrimination that we as Black women have endured and sweet, because those days are now over. We have the freedom (without repercussions) to enter the workplace with our ‘crown’ anyway we choose.”
According to a recent survey by Dove and The Crown Coalition who’s leading the charge, about 80% of black women surveyed felt the need to change their hair to fit in at work. No more!
“African Americans in particular and people of color in general won’t fear scrutiny or discrimination in the workplace any longer when expressing their natural beauty in the workplace or anyplace else,” noted Sykes smiling at the thought.
Danny L. White currently lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is the author and creative lead for the Sensational letter “S”, a children’s book focused on early reading comprehension and word development. He is also a Adjunct faculty member at Maricopa College, and staff reporter for the Arizona Informant.