MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Discrimination against certain styles and textures exists and this week the House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act.
This makes Tennessee's House the first in the Deep South to approve the legislation, which prohibits discrimination against natural hairstyles.
Imagine growing up asking yourself if your natural hair or protective hairstyle is professional or inappropriate in school or at work. Hair discrimination is real.
"No one should be fired off their job because they're wearing twists or an afro. No child should be left behind because they have braids … it's just misfortunate," A Touch of Paris Natural Hair Salon Owner Anya Parker said.
Our hair is our pride and joy.
"It's who we are. It's the way our hair grows out of our heads. It's an extension of expression for us, it's a part of our culture, traditions, it's in our DNA," A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge Apprentice Stylist Chiedza Zimuto explained.
There's a lot of glory in our hair.
"African-American women could not wear their hair in its natural tresses the way that it grows out of your head, but I always say this. If it's good enough for God, then it's good enough for you," Parker said.
A Touch of Paris Natural Hair Salon Owner Anya Parker said there was a time when she changed her hair to fit the world's definition of professional.
"There was a time when I was going into a different career field. I decided to cut my hair just to make other people feel comfortable, but in the process, I learned that it didn't really change anything," Parker stated.
Like Parker, many have experienced the pressure to alter their look.
Monday, the house of representatives passed the CROWN Act, which was created in 2019 in California.
It stands for Creating A Respectful And Open World For Natural Hair.
The act covers those who choose to wear their natural hair or protective styles like braids, locs, twists, and knots from discrimination in the workplace and public schools.
A Natural Affair Beauty Lounge Apprentice Stylist Chiedza Zimuto specializes in locs. She said this is a small step in the right direction.
"People of color, Black people … when other groups are welcomed to be who they are, we're not. Now there's something in place to protect us to just be," Zimuto said.
She expressed that she is glad the conversations are much bigger now.
"For women to talk to each other about what they've experienced, men to talk to each other about what they've experienced … I didn't realize that so much drama was attached to that until I was graduating from college," Zimuto expressed.
The act will allow employees who face discrimination to file a complaint to the federal government.
The state senate is expected to take a final look before sending it to Gov. Bill Lee's desk.