The CROWN Act: Lets Talk Hair

I will admit I was ignorant to this law, but I have done all my research and I am a so happy that this is being brought to the forefront, it’s about time.

My crown is beautiful

As a woman of color myself I have faced some criticism about my choice to go or be natural.

In 2020, as more and more black women are going natural it still seems as though it is more of a burden than a celebration of rediscovering one’s self.

the crown act

What is The CROWN Act?

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture in the workplace and school. 

First introduced in California in January 2019, The CROWN Act expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code, to ensure protection in workplaces and in K-12 public and charter schools. The inaugural CROWN Act was signed into law by Governor Newsom in California on July 3rd and went into effect January 1, 2020.

Still in 2020 black women are having to explain themselves about their hair. Why it is straight, why it is curly, why is it tied up, why is it so big?

This cause means a lot to me, because I’ve been there, young black women need to know that they are beautiful exactly the way they were born.

First, What’s my career background?

I have a BS in Biology, by trade I am an Independent Adjuster. When big storms hit , or catastrophes I contract myself out and work claims. For example you live in Texas and a hurricane damages your home. You insurance company is State Farm , they contract me to handle your residential claim.

When on an assignment it can be anywhere from 3-9 months or even longer depending on the aftermath of the weather event. On assignments I work 6-7 days a week 7am-7pm. The dress code is business casual.

The demographics for this field is 90% middle age to older white men, 5% white women, and 5% other or minorities.

My Hair story (shortened)

I have been natural since December 22, 2010. I was sitting at my desk in my dorm room. I was six hours away from home and did not know anyone who could do my hair. My hair was getting thinner and shorter every year so that’s when I decided to stop getting a relaxer.

I did not big chop, I wet and braided my hair at night and lucky for me my natural hair and relaxed hair matched. One day on summer break for college I was standing in my bathroom and just started snipping, the demarcation point (it’s where the relaxed hair and the natural hair meet) was getting to be too much to handle. My hair reached my shoulders on the sides and in the back a little past my shoulders. Which was the shortest my hair had ever been, so it was new for me. I never looked back, and it was the best decision I have ever made because today I have waist length hair.

The Crown Act
July 2017

Disclaimer: I am in no way shape or form shunning or bad mouthing my sisters who wear wigs and choose to relax their hair. For me I want to represent myself in the most natural way possible. My point is, it is that particular women’s choice, but if your choice is to wear your hair natural you should be able to do so without be questioned or criticized.

My CROWN Story

It started in college, I had a black man tell me that I looked prettier when my hair was straight. I’ve had men tell me I’m gorgeous, but they can’t date me because my hair isn’t straight.

I actually had a man come up to me while I was minding my own business and say verbatim I cannot make this up “ wow you are gorgeous but I wouldn’t date you because you are natural.” I just gave him the Mya face and he quickly backed up. But the nerve of him. My fiancé could care less and that’s exactly how it should be.

The first time I heard it I just shrugged it off, and paid that boy no mind, because my mother had raised me to see the beauty in my hair along with my complexion, but it wasn’t until I began working in corporate America when I began to think would my work speak for itself or would I be passed up for a promotion or would I not not taken seriously all because my hair was curly and not like my counter parts.

My first encounter. I was sitting at my desk again minding my own business ( when I’m at work, I work, I don’t play games and I don’t gossip) and a co-worker (white women) walks up to me and asks if she can touch my hair. I immediately tell her no, but what I noticed is that as she was asking she was already reaching out to put her hands in my hair. When I told her no she pulled her hand back and actually caught an attitude. I have two responses whenever this conversation or experience is brought up: NUMBER 1 inappropriate, we are at work, go sit down, NUMBER 2 I am NOT an exhibit, I don’t know here your hands have been.

Later on that year another co-worker (white male) told me he wasn’t sure if I had hair. This particular day I wore my two-strand twists out. I usually have them pulled back and he wasn’t sure if I was bald or not.

Moving forward to another year, we are having a team meeting and our manger is going over what a professional hair is and is not. As I was listening, it was basically all the hairstyles indigenous to black people, mind you our clients never sees us, everything is done via phone and email. While I understand that our dress code is business casual, this is the hair that grows out of my head, I cant change that and nor will I.After that meeting one of my co-workers was actually let go because his dreads were “unruly”.( he hadn’t gotten the chance to redo he dreads because like I said before we are working 6-7 days a week 7am-7pm.)

Again sitting at my desk another white male asked me why my hair looked like that. He wanted to know if I just roll out of bed, put my clothes on and then came to work. He kept harping on it. I spoke to HR, he was moved to another area. I later found out that no one even spoke to him about it, instead they chose to fix problem by moving him to another area, where he began harassing another black woman about her dreads.

I was passed up for a promotion. On paper my resume is very impressive, but in my line of work you don’t see what people look like until you reach your assignment. It only was when the deciding manger found out who I was and what I looked like that I was to be just a regular desk adjuster and not a manager.

What do I want out of this law?

I want to be able to walk into a work environment and not have to be questioned or given the side eye about my hair. I want my work and experience to speak for itself.  

To be honest lol, I would love to wear a head wrap on mmmm maybe two Fridays out of the month. I do henna treatments and they can take anywhere from 4-6 hours to take, and on assignments I don’t have time to do them when I get home. Now…I believe that is asking for a little much , but a girl can dream.

Other CROWN stories

My mother had a friend who came to her and asked what she should do because she found out that her boss referred to her as Medusa in an email. This woman had dreads. This man felt so comfortable calling this women Medusa, I m sure he as made this reference before.

When I was in college I was a mentor for incoming freshman and a young lady shared with me when she was in high school her white boss, she was a women, was surprised that she came to work today because she didn’t know that her kind came out in the rain.

New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Johnson’s locs were forcibly cut off right before his match. (My son has dreads, well partially lol, they are on the top of his head and he is a football player.)

Hampton University was in the middle of a scandal because they were telling their business majors that braids and dreadlocks were not professional.

With class and grace,

Mya – Karren

I have linked below the website and the petition if you would like to sign, they have reached over 105k signatures.

Sign the petition here: The CROWN Act