Va. set to be 4th state to ban hair discrimination

Virginia Politics

Shana Bonner, left, styles the hair of Pho Gibson at Exquisite U hair salon in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, July 3, 2019. California is the first state to ban job and school discrimination against people for wearing natural hair styles such as braids. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is on the brink of becoming the fourth state in the nation to ban hair discrimination. The Crown Act awaits Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature after passing in both the Virginia Senate and House.

The folks at Tony Turner Unleashed Salon in Henrico County welcomed the prospect of the proposed bill becoming law on Wednesday.

“Natural hair does take time, it is a process,” said Antonio Turner, an owner of the salon who also works as a stylist, told 8News.

The days of straight hair and relaxers are over for a lot of women and more curls, braids and dreads are being seen, but there are concerns on if these hairstyles are always accepted. Advocates for the measure said the Crown Act is a breakthrough bill that will make way to ensure acceptance.

Antonio and Martina Turner, a husband-wife duo doing natural hair for 30 years, own Unleashed Salon and have created their own product line.

“It’s disappointing that in this day and time that we have to fight for our right to wear our own texture of hair,” A. Turner said.

The fight could soon be over with the passing of the Virginia Human Rights Act, nationally known as the Crown Act. The bill would expand the terms of racial discrimination to include hair texture and type, as well as protective styles like braids, locks and twists.

The measure is backed by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

“We are doing letter writing campaigns and talking to legislative officials,” Quanda Baker, the president of the Richmond chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, said. “Sometimes people feel like people are just wearing this wild hair and it brings a stereotype against the black female.”

For decades, black women have felt pressure to wear their hair straight, putting excessive heat and chemicals on their hair because their natural kinky, wavy or curly hair might not be as accepted in professional settings.

“You could have beautiful natural curly hair because someone in authority just didn’t like the way you look or the way your hair looked, so this legislation is big,” A. Turner said. “I’m hoping that people learn to expect the beauty of pure natural hair.”

The Crown Act has passed in California, New Jersey and New York. Virginia’s bill is expected to be signed by Northam.

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