'Natural hair' bill could change workplace standards

CONCORD, Calif. -- A California state Senate Bill could soon be loosening standards at work for what could be considered "appropriate hair." Which means being allowed to wear your hair naturally, something that still, even in 2019, poses problems, especially for African Americans.

There are still harsh and expensive standards imposed on some at work and school, with hair texture and style historically associated with race.

State senator Holly Mitchell introduced a bill dubbed "the crown act " to make natural hair acceptable.

"I have heard too many reports of black children being humiliated and sent home from school because their natural hair was deemed unruly or a distraction to others. Hair texture doesn't deem a professional look."

The owner of the M & E beauty salon in Concord, Ezella Red, said she has many clients who endure tedious appointments to straighten their hair saying, "To this day as we are speaking, there are still businesses out there that won't let them wear their hair in its natural state. I'll offer and say let me put some braids in and be creative and they are like, no my job doesn't allow that."

Kadidja Coulibaly who runs the Braids by Kadi salon in Antioch echoed the same concern. She said clients say they are not comfortable wearing braids at work.

"I don't understand. If you're productive at work you need to be happy. You don't need to change your identity."

The bill has already sailed through the Senate and is now before the assembly. It could become law by next year.

Some liken SB188 to relaxing work standards for women having to wear heels at the office or men wearing ties, letting people be more comfortable.

Coulibaly stressed, "We really need to get this bill passed so we can be ourselves at work."