A major Arizona city is taking action to stop race-based hair discrimination, and it could forge a path for others to follow.
On Tuesday, March 9, the Tucson City Council is set to formally adopt The Crown Act. The legislation is part of a nationwide movement to prevent race-based hair discrimination in schools and the workplace.
"I think, though, it's very important that we bring the conversation forward that we have these conversations about this issue," said Tucson Vice Mayor Nikki Lee.
Lee is one of the councilmembers who helped to introduce The Crown Act to her colleagues. She says it's about helping Tucson move forward, and her mission has the support of local cosmetologists and community organizers.
"As an African American community or population, this is part of our history, so to be asked to dismiss or to change in any way to fit in... is such a form of dishonor to the African American Community. As long as the hair is clean and you're presentable, and you're up for the part, so to speak, or that promotion or to be employed, gainfully employed, should have nothing to do with having an ethnic look regarding your hair care or hairstyle," said Desiree Cook, a licensed cosmetologist and founder of I AM You 360.
In her work, Cook has seen and experienced race-based hair discrimination first-hand, and that's why she is excited to witness Tucson become the 10th city in the nation to adopt The Crown Act.
"I truly hope and feel that Arizona will definitely help unmute, so to speak, so many that have felt muted because of their choice of hairstyle in the African American or blended community, but they will also be a voice here in Arizona as a state for the voiceless," Cook said.
Dove conducted a study and found Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair. Cook believes passing The Crown Act is about protecting freedom of expression through hair.
"Truly your hair is your Crown and don't allow anybody to put you in a box because of your uniqueness, please rock your crown in a way that you feel the most comfortable," Cook said.