GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After the CROWN Act passed in Ingham County this week, it started a conversation in Kent County.
Some business owners and community leaders said that if passed in their community, it could help stop discrimination on the job.
“Just because they look peculiar, doesn’t meant that they’re not qualified,” Demarcus Baty, a barber at Designer Dugout, said. “Some people are getting discriminated against because of them not looking like what other people expect them to look like.”
It’s a problem that disproportionately affects Black women in the workplace.
A recent Dove study revealed a Black woman is “80% more likely to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.”
“Although hair or styles can be a cultural statement, it is a part of our stories as Black women,” Dr. Kimberly Slaikue, owner of Luxe Artisan Preserves, said.
Dove aims to be a part of that story. The company helped create the CROWN Act in 2019, which is a law banning discrimination based on hair textures or styles. Ingham County commissioners adopted the legislation Tuesday, becoming the first county in Michigan to ban hair discrimination for public employees.
It’s a landmark decision Slaikeu hopes will come to fruition in her community.
“It’s important for me as a mother raising a young, beautiful brown-skin girl,” Slaikeu said.
Kent County Commissioner Robert S. Womack understands and said he wants to bring the CROWN Act to Kent County.
“We have to prepare for our youth and for a lot of people that have historically already been shunned because of their hairstyles,” Womack said. “I think our diversity is a beautiful thing.”
Womack said he will introduce the CROWN Act to his colleagues during their meeting Thursday, hoping it’s another step toward change.