How Black People are being policed in their workplaces and institutions


Art by Ellie Lind

Tamara Guy, Staff Writer

Black people are a target of hate in their workplaces and institutions, as they can have their hair policed by their employers and administrators and have no legal protection when it happens.

Once the Crown Act is in place, it will protect Black people from blatant discrimination. Crown stands for creating a respectful and open world for natural hair. Quoting their mission from their website, “[the Crown Act] is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or Bantu knots.” This act calls for the protection of black hairstyles in workplaces and schools.

 One event that proves this act’s necessity happened in New Jersey at a high school wrestling match. Wrestler Charles Johnson Jr. was up next on the mat, and the referee gave him a choice to cut off his dreads, or else the ref would force him to forfeit his match. His hair met the length requirements, and he was not required to wear a certain hair cap for his hair. The wrestler and audience knew the referee’s action was racially charged. To many individuals, their sports are a comforting place for them, and the idea of not being able to wear their natural hair in their comforting space is very traumatic.

Statistics provided by The Crown Acts’ database show that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from their workplace because of their hair. Without this act, employers and institutions can get away with stripping Black women of their culture and forcing them to assimilate to white standards.

To Black women, their hair is more than just an accessory; it is seen as a place of comfort. Not only this, but all Black hairstyles are a form of their culture, as their hair type is like no other. We use braids and locs as a form of protective style on our natural hair as it is often difficult to maintain. Not having the protection of our hair in workplaces and institutions creates discomfort and the feeling of being unsafe, which no person should have to feel.

Many hairstyles that have been deemed inappropriate in workplaces and schools directly target Black people. But, as stated previously, most of these hairstyles are protective hairstyles that are easier to maintain than their hairs’ natural state. Black people should not feel like they have a target on their back because their hair doesn’t conform to White society, because when Black people do conform to hairstyles accepted in their workplace, they are often damaging to Black hair texture.

As of right now, the Crown Act has been filed in the state of Illinois, but it did not pass. We need to encourage officials and make every effort to ensure that Black people don’t miss certain opportunities because their hair is not deemed professional in our white, enriched society. Black people shouldn’t have to be afraid of losing opportunities because of their hair. We can prevent this from happening by encouraging companies and institutions to implement the Crown Act in their community as we wait for Illinois to pass the act to avoid the discrimination that harms Black individuals.