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I Am Not My Hair: An Exploration of Black Hair Pride & Discrimination (Part 2)

Part 2: Hair Politics and Economics


“I love my hair because it’s a reflection of my soul. It’s dense, it’s kinky, it’s soft, it’s textured, it’s difficult, it’s easy, and it’s fun. That’s why I love my hair.” - Tracee Ellis Ross

From Josef Adamu's photo series "The Hair Appointment"

Although the various ways that Black people style and wear their hair should be uplifted and celebrated, in many academic, professional and social spaces, it is considered unpresentable and unkept. Many Black people deal with the prioritization of European standards over Black cultural staples. Today and in the past Black people have faced denial of access in various academic, professional, social and cultural spaces. Black people have also grappled with denial of job and academic opportunities because of their afrocentric hair styles.


The first natural hair discrimination case appear in 1976 with the case of Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hospital Insurance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a race discrimination lawsuit against an employer for bias against afros. The appeals court agreed that workers were entitled to wear afros under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Today we see some political strives to end hair discrimination with policy change. For example, In June 2019, California made headlines for becoming the first state to outlaw the racial discrimination of individuals based on natural hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists and knots in public schools and the workplace. The bill, SB 188, passed in an unanimous vote by California’s state assembly on June 27, 2019.


From Josef Adamu's photo series "The Hair Appointment"