CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — According to the CROWN Research Study, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair. The group behind CROWN is fighting to end hair discrimination.
Columbus passed the CROWN Act and it went into effect in 2021. It's also been introduced in the Ohio legislature.
But some Northeast Ohioans aren't waiting for a law and are fighting for change now.
Cosmetologist Ladosha Wright knows a lot about hair and not just how it's styled. She said it all started when she previously worked as an outreach worker.
“I discovered the importance of hair and image and how it plays in what a person is going through,” said Wright.
Wright means experiences like discrimination, shaming, bullying and hatred which many Black people who wear their natural, textured hair have to endure.
“We know for certain that textured hair in America has not been treated very well. So a lot of that, well the bulk of that, has stemmed from not having a history about our hair before slavery,” said Wright.
Wright’s a big supporter of the CROWN Act, but she believes there needs to be more work done in addition to legislation.
“How are we going to pass the act, but have no people to help people with their hair who've been denied history, they've been denied the right products, the right tools and the right techniques?” said Wright.
That’s why she’s launching the Ubuntu Hair Love Project at her salon, Reverence Design Team, in Cleveland Heights.
It's a new, free community program to educate people struggling with issues related to their hair, give them a place to express their feelings, and find ways to deal with the negativity.
“I don't think society is really going to leave us alone. They're gonna keep picking on our hair. And sometimes, we're gonna pick on some other people's hair too. So we need to cope through that,” said Wright.
The project is funded through a $4,000 grant provided by Neighborhood Connections. With the money, Wright is bringing in hairstylists who will give each participant private hair consultations, a hair and scalp journal, personal hygiene products, hair care products, food, and a copy of Wright’s book, "What They Don’t Tell You at the Hair Salon."
Classes start on Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. and will continue every Sunday through June of 2022. New groups of participants will form every four weeks.
Wright is specifically looking for participants who live in the Central and Kinsman communities because Kings and Queens of Art is providing free transportation to RDT Salon from those areas.
Urban Barber Association executive director Waverly Willis is supporting Wright’s project because, as another hair professional, he said he’s seen the impact that the discrimination and hatred of Black hair has firsthand.
“People want to be themselves and it's time for African Americans to be able to do their jobs or a kid to be in school and not be teased or or not be forced to be away to make someone else comfortable,” said Willis.
Wright of course, wants to chip away at ignorance and injustice, but above all she wants to uplift those who feel defeated.
“You know, we can't stop it. We can't fight it. But we can definitely cope, and like I said, I believe the CROWN Act is definitely saying, ‘let's do this.’ And that inspires cosmetologists and barbers to unite and say, ‘OK, we've got a law that's saying you can't do this anymore.’ But now, we've gotta get out there and be on the pulse of the people and help them,” said Wright.
Anyone interested in registering for the Ubuntu Hair Love Project should call the Reverence Design Team at 216-321-1101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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