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‘It is so much more than hair’: Bill aims to stop hair discrimination in NC

By Kristen Aguirre

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — In an effort to stop hair discrimination, the U.S. House passed The CROWN Act earlier this month.

A crown act is also making its way through the North Carolina legislature right now.

The measure, which aims to create a respectful and open world for natural hair for all, is one local stylist Naomi Waller hopes passes.

“The people who sit in my chair are insecure about their curls because of an idea that’s been given to them through society,” said Waller, owner of Ayoki Styles Beauty Collection.

Waller, who primarily works with natural hair, helps her clients find their identity through their locks.

“Hair, actually, represents culture, where they are from,” she said. “It represents their identity.”

Ultimately, Waller said, hair represents more than just what’s on a person’s head.

“We’re told it does not fit into our work systems,” Waller said. “It doesn’t fit into our society, our culture.”

“It is so much more than hair,” said N.C. Sen. Natalie Murdock (Durham).

Murdock, who said she agrees with Waller, is the primary filer in the senate for The Crown Act.

“The Crown Act is basically saying that men and women should not be discriminated against simply because of their hair,” Murdock said. “Creating a respectful workplace for all.” “We’ve seen for years — whether it be employers or in the schools — people of color often face discrimination because of their hair,” Murdock said.

Right now, the bill is stalled in committee in both the state house and senate.

“We should all be concerned about any individual that cannot show up to school and work as their authentic self and for them to be discriminated against for being simply who they are,” Murdock said.

“It’s much deeper,” Waller said. “It’s rooted from generations behind us.”

The first crown acts signed into law were in New York and California in 2019. Since then, more than a dozen states have signed their own crown acts into law.

“What we now know is it is simply another form of racial discrimination,” Murdock said.

Last year, Gov. Roy Cooper declared July 3rd as Crown Day in North Carolina.

“It’s a celebration of who we are as people; it’s our crown, it’s our expression, it’s our culture, it’s everything we are,” Waller said.

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