HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Brenda Morrison was among the women who were interested in the natural hair movement because it addressed the problem of being forced to change hair texture to abide by a racist definition of workplace professional appearance.
Morrison, of the Broward County Urban League, celebrated on Tuesday when Broward County commissioners unanimously agreed to pass a ban on racially-based hair discrimination. The hair-texture protected styles include braids, locs, twists, bantu knots and head wraps.
“Sometimes you get the looks and you wonder why the looks are coming when you’re coming professionally dressed, just like everybody else, ready and able and willing to do the work,” said Morrison, a former staff assistant to former Sen. Bill Nelson.
Natural hair movement activists want Florida to follow the example of Broward County. California, New York, New Jersey, Washington State, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia have also passed similar bans.
“We understand from a historical standpoint that even just a lot of Black folk have been looking at having to have this continuing conversation for years and years on end, and saying, ‘Why is it needed?’ ... But then, we look at cases,” Morrison said.
The ban forces employers and school administrators to reconsider rules restricting hairstyles unless the restrictions are related to legitimate health and safety issues.
At the state level, a Florida Senate bill died in the judiciary in March. There is more hope at the federal level. The House passed a bill on Sept. 21, which is now awaiting review by the Senate. Sen. Cory Booker has been pushing for The CROWN Act or the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act since January.
“I take the ownership of loving my curls, but also, empowering and inspiring other black women, black girls who look just like me,” Morrison said.