“Our hair doesn’t define who we are:” CROWN Act to bring freedom of expression to workplace

DELMARVA – Hair comes in many textures and colors, yet how you style it could determine whether or not you’re hired.

That’s something Katrilla Giddens, Owner of Blessed & Beyond Hair Salon in Salisbury, says needs to change. “It doesn’t say your education level, doesn’t say who you’re going to be, how you perform on the job, or any of that.”

Change could be right around the corner, as the U.S. House recently passed the CROWN Act. This legislation would ban race-based hair discrimination in the workforce.

Absolutely Flawless Women Founder Dr. Leshell Dennis says minorities in America have many disadvantages to overcome and their choice of hairstyle shouldn’t be one of them.

“Being looked at as different because we want to wear our hair in locks or have natural hair. Our hair doesn’t define who we are,” Dr. Dennis said. “It can be very intimidating and a message of I want to be all I can be but I’m afraid.”

Giddens started her cosmetology journey back in 2010 but recently decided to expand into realty. She feared a more natural look could affect how she was viewed professionally.

“So I was like I think I might want to wait because I don’t want to look unprofessional. Not that I think we look unprofessional, but I don’t want anybody else to think that I’m unprofessional because of how I wear my hair,” Giddens said.

It’s those concerns that fuel both businesses owners to continue building their clients from their feet to their crowns.

They say professionalism comes from the inside. “In the salon, you’re taught if you look good, you feel good. So that’s just how it goes. I can go on the job and give it 100% because I’m looking cute or I feel good today,” Giddens said.

I’m also told that this legislation brings hope for young adults heading into the workforce providing them a sense of pride in who they are.

The CROWN Act is the law of the land in more than a dozen states, with California being the first to pass the legislation back in 2019. It now heads to the U.S. Senate.

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