A few months ago, California became the first state in the US to ban natural hair discrimination. A few months later, New York followed suit. The fact that a law has had to be passed for an entire people group to wear their hair naturally, highlights the depth of the issue.
From braided hairstyles to wearing natural hair, black people have long received discrimination against their natural hair texture. Stereotypes like ‘unkempt’ and ‘unprofessional’ are often slewed labels for natural hair prejudice. This is a problem that affects all across the African Diaspora, regardless of their location.
Last year, a 12-year-old Rastafarian boy in the UK was banned from school because of his dreadlocks because it was deemed against school policy. If even children can’t wear their natural hairstyles, hope appears limited for anyone else. Thankfully, the schoolboy eventually won the court case, but the fact that this happened only last year, highlights the severe issue at hand.
But there are some organisations taking a stand against this in the UK too. Project embrace is in its third year of running billboard campaigns to help increase the visibility of natural hair in society. It features photos of black people wearing natural hairstyles, showcasing the unique and diverse beauty of black hair. This year, Project Embrace’s theme focuses on embracing natural hair in the workplace.
Many black men and women can relate to the sense of feeling pressured to give in to European beauty standards, especially in professional environments. Chemical straightening is an example of this. Michelle Obama said she felt she had to adopt a policed hair strategy whilst living in the white house.
Campaigns like Project Embrace and discrimination laws are key steps to combat black hair prejudice. Through persistence, we hope to completely eradicate this social injustice. Sign this petition for a UK hair discrimination ban to be passed: https://bit.ly/2m3dP5t