Proposal aims to end race-based hair discrimination in Michigan

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 11:17 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 6:25 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Did you know you could be sent home from work or school for your hair? A new proposal aims to end race-based hair discrimination.

When it comes to hair, Black women face the dilemma of following Eurocentric beauty standards or going natural and risking their job.

Cameo King is an award-winning journalist and advocate who is proud of her natural locks. But her hair journey hasn’t always been easy. It was at her first job that she was told she needed to change her hair if she wanted to be on TV.

“It’s been about straightening your hair, taming your hair,” King recalled. “‘Your hair is too much, it’s a distraction, it’s too big,’ Those were the comments that I have heard in reference to my hair being a journalist.”

Research has shown one-in-five Black women feel the need to straighten their hair for work, which is why Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) wants to change hair restrictions.

Anthony first introduced the CROWN Act in February 2021, which protects people from discrimination based on their natural hair in the workplace.

The comments on your hair can take a toll mentally.

“It was a lot for me, it set me back,” King said. “It had a lot to do with my confidence and self-worth.”

Priscilla Mitchell, the owner of Sophisticated Stylez Hair Salon, sees a lot of social pressure when it comes to hair. Inflation also plays a factor.

“We get a lot of people that cancel because they can’t always afford it,” Mitchell said.

Some are told their braids are unprofessional and they need to change it.

“I had some clients that went in for an interview and they had braids in their hair. They told them that they didn’t get the job because of that and they had to change that which isn’t fair,” Mitchell said.

King and Mitchell both believe a person should be appraised by their abilities, not their hair.

CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. Michigan would be the 21st state to pass the law. More than 40 cities - including Detroit - have passed similar laws.

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