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Monday, April 15, 2024

I am not my hair…

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Doneisha Posey
Doneisha Posey

In a society where the intersectionality of race, gender, and law continually shapes the lived experiences of Black women, the upcoming event at the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, presented by the Marion County Bar Association, is an opportunity for us to support Black women. This event, set for March 8, 2024, will feature Jantina Anderson delivering a compelling talk titled “Happy 5th Birthday: Hair Discrimination Has No Age Limits,” addressing the pervasive issue of hair discrimination and its legal and historical implications for Black women.

This event is free and open to the public.

Date: March 8, 2024

Time: 2:00 p.m -4:00 p.m.

Location: Federal Courthouse, 46 E Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204, Courtroom 344


The issue of hair discrimination is not just a matter of personal beauty but is deeply embedded within the broader context of racial equity and legal justice. Historically, Black women have navigated a complex landscape where their natural hair has been a site of contestation and discrimination, impacting their professional, educational, and social lives. This discrimination is not just anecdotal but is supported by compelling data, such as that reported by Dove USA, which reveals that Black girls as young as five face bias for wearing protective hairstyles like braids, afros, locs, and twists, and a significant majority of Black women feel compelled to alter their hair texture for employment opportunities.

The legal discourse surrounding hair discrimination has seen a significant shift with the advocacy of the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. This landmark legislation represents a critical step forward in the legal recognition of hair discrimination as a form of racial discrimination. Initially passed in California in 2019, the CROWN Act explicitly prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture, by extending protection under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Education Code. It addresses the legal loophole that allowed racial discrimination to manifest through biases against natural hair, recognizing such discrimination as an unjust barrier to educational and economic opportunities for Black individuals.

The relevance of the CROWN Act at the federal level, despite facing challenges in Congress, underscores the pressing need for national legislation to protect individuals against hair discrimination. States like California have paved the way, establishing legal frameworks that affirm the rights of Black women to wear their natural hair without fear of prejudice or penalty. This movement towards legal recognition and protection is a testament to the ongoing struggle against systemic racism and the fight for racial equity.

Black Onyx Management is the proud sponsor of this event, in collaboration with Indiana Humanities’ Advancing Racial Equity Speakers Bureau and this is a testament to the importance of legal education in the pursuit of justice. By focusing on the historical and policy frameworks that have led to the enactment of laws like the CROWN Act, this conversation aims to illuminate the intersection of Black women’s rights and the law. This discussion is not only critical for legal professionals but for all members of society, as it highlights the broader implications of hair discrimination on racial equity and justice.

You should attend this event not only to gain insights into the legal and historical aspects of hair discrimination but also to understand the importance of current law and policy in protecting the rights and dignity of Black women. I am not my hair but I, alike all Black women, deserve to live in a world where we can be our natural, authentic selves without any concern as to how the world perceives us based on our hair.

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