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Don't touch my CROWN

The history of black hair has always been significant. During slavery, braiding was a meaningful hairstyle that meant more than just looking pretty. Slaves would braid their path to freedom in their heads, hence the power that braids hold. There is a deep history in the dreadlocks and the braids that we wear. The natural state of our hair in all of its kinky curliness is something that many of us wear proudly. Banning hairstyles that are important to black culture insinuates that black culture is not accepted in professional settings.

Jett Hawkins is a preschooler who is painfully already facing pressure to conform to white beauty standards. At the mere age of 4 years old, he had to remove his braids as because the hairstyle violated the dress code at his Chicago school. His mother, Ida Nelson, has announced her plan to go global and advocate that “No child should have to experience discrimination based on something that is part of their bodies.” The conformity that is forced upon children as young as four must stop. As a society, we should be teaching all children to be confident in what is natural, including hair. The conformity taught to black children hurts their self-esteem and builds the mindset that they are flawed.

Senator Mike Simmons, a wearer of freeform dreadlocks and a victim of hair discrimination, supports Ida Nelson’s fight for equality for black hair in professional environments. He doesn’t want the children who wear braids and dreadlocks to “have to be traumatized like this and feel like there’s something wrong with [black hairstyles]”. His passion stems from his personal experience. Simmons wrote a bill that would necessitate the ejection of any discrimination toward black hairstyles. This bill was approved by the legislature this past Spring and was recently signed by Illinois Governor, Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Effective beginning January 1st, 2022, Illinois will join New Jersey, California, and New York in adopting variations of the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair).


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