When I was entering high school, I made the decision to go “natural.” In the black community, this means to wear your hair how it naturally is instead of adding perm to straighten it. Historically, black women may choose to get perms in order to fit into white American beauty standards. Wearing an afro was a powerful statement in the 1960s, when black pride was an adamant development, but dialed down when the civil rights movement ended. From past personal experiences, as well as various stories from others, it seems that wearing a natural afro then became a statement of being unkempt or not fit for society, especially in professional settings. I’ve even had a close caucasion friend tell me that her boss would not hire african-americans because of the particular hairstyles worn.
In July of 2019, California signed The Crown Act, a law that prohibits organizations from discriminating against (usually by not hiring) people of color for their hair styles. California was the first state to enact this bittersweet legislation. Yes, it was made illegal for businesses not to hire because of a certain hair type; however, why should an individual not be hired for work just because of the hair they were born with? One should not be required to control the hair he or she was born with in order to obtain income. Furthermore, shouldn’t the Fair Employment Opportunity Act established by the EEOC in 1972 make it loud and clear that this discrimination is illegal? But I guess additional legislation is what is needed.
My hair was always the part of my identity I struggled with, since there were not many people who resembled me, a Carribean immigrant, in the media. I researched how to take care of natural hair and the best things to help sustain it, as it takes a lot of work. I tried different methods and oil blends that led to making a bottle that best worked for me – as products in stores were not promoting the healthy hair growth I wanted after all the damage I acquired from years of perm damage. After I started using my own mixture, I gained plenty of compliments about my hair: how thick it had become, how soft it was, and how fast my hair grew. With the compliments ridding my insecurities, I started giving advice as to what they should use depending on their hair texture. I realized that there was a market for this when people started asking me to make a bottle for them. I began selling $10 oil blends to friends and family as a side hustle, but never took it further than that.
As time went on, I saw that more people of color were making hair tutorials online on how to take care of hair. Now I see that there are plenty of colored people who want to go back to the era of black pride – as the media has become more diverse in representation- just as I did when I was discovering my identity as a Carribean-American. Instead of caring so much about whether or not it fits into society’s standards, I hope more people are able to love and own their natural hair no matter how they choose to wear it.