Hair discrimination starts at a young age and is unfortunately a daily reality for Black girls and women. For me, it started in second grade. I remember being at a classmate's pool party and as I came out of the water, one of the boys said, "Whoa, what happened to your hair?" As a 7-year-old, his remark was quite playful and innocent, but it still stung and is one of my earliest memories of feeling "othered."
And I'm not alone. Black girls and women are discriminated against all the time for rocking dreadlocks and natural hair in school and the workplace. A lot is being done to minimize and end discrimination for Black and brown people, including the CROWN Act (a law that grants freedom to Black employees to wear their hair in natural curls, braids, dreadlocks, twists, Afros, and any style they desire) and Black public figures showing out in the media, like Gabrielle Union inviting high school senior DeAndre Arnold to the Oscars earlier this year after he was suspended from a Texas high school for not meeting the dress code when he showed up with dreadlocks. Or Solange Knowles sporting a durag, an essential tool in the Black experience, at the 2018 Met Gala.
But as Adjoa B. Asamoah, an impact and political strategist who developed the legislative strategy for the CROWN Act, told me, "There is a role for everybody in terms of helping to shift both policy and culture." Meaning, legislation and Black celebrities are great, but we have to change the language we are using around Black hair in schools, friend groups, and all other environments. And for Black girls, we need to continue to encourage positive narratives to build up their hair esteem. Introducing young girls to love their hair is an important part of the equation. To help, here's a starting list of great children's books that celebrate Black hair and teach children to be proud of the crown they were born with.