This new initiative is working towards ending hair discrimination

65% of Black British people have experienced hair discrimination, new research states. Now, Dove has introduced the CROWN UK Fund to support Black women and girls.

In 2010, race-based hair bias became illegal under the UK Equalities Act. Still, though, a high proportion of Black people still experience hair discrimination. This was echoed in the results of Stylist’s 2020 Black British Women census; “A lot of Black beauty and hair care products are not readily available or advertised,” we were told. 

Hair equality is a conversation the Stylist beauty team has been spotlighting since launching our Hair Equality Campaign in 2017 and will continue to push to the forefront for years to come as it’s clear there is still work to be done. Children as young as 11 have experienced hair discrimination at school, new research revealed today. Additionally, over half (51%) have been sent home for wearing their hair naturally, the Dove research states. 

This type of behaviour can have a big impact on children’s self-esteem and also affect their psychological wellbeing. Sadly, 58% of children said they have wished they have a different hair type.

Speaking about her own experiences of hair discrimination, Zina Alfa, founder of Ub Hair said: “Natural and protective hairstyles including Afros, braids and locs are traditional ways to express our heritage and simply have our hair.

“It is because this is not understood that young children are subjected to being punished by teachers or bullied by peers. When we’re not attacked, we also experience people that see our hair, touch it, and grab it without permission – making us uncomfortable. It’s not OK for people to be targeted because of their hair.”

Of course, hearing that children are exposed to this sort of racism is unacceptable but this abhorrent behaviour doesn’t end on the playground, either.

The survey also found that 63% of Black adults have experienced hair discrimination as a result of wearing their hair naturally or in a protective style.

Meanwhile, some 37% of Black adults have experienced work-based discrimination due to their hair and 25% have been sent home from work for wearing their hair naturally.

This can have an impact on psychological wellbeing, so much so, 41% of participants said they have felt embarrassed, uncomfortable or discriminated against as a result.

“The issue of hair discrimination has always been important yet as a form of racism, it is all too often overlooked,” says Emma Dabiri, academic, author and broadcaster. “Following the Black Lives Matter movement, it is more important than ever to shine a light on this subtle form of discrimination that can be hidden under out-dated, and prejudiced, ideas of ‘professionalism’.

“I want to see an end to Black children being sent home from school for wearing their natural afro hair, I want to see that a Black person with braids would be deemed just as professional as the next person. I want to see an end to all hair discrimination.”

In an effort to help end hair discrimination, Dove – which was also one of the first supporters of the Halo Code – has announced a CROWN UK Fund (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) of £170,000.

Throughout 2021, this money will support the Black community in the UK by supply grants to Black-led grassroot organisations and projects working to eliminate barriers for black women and girls and empower the next generation.

Organisations that work within this space can apply for grants of up to £20,000.

Additionally, Dove has created a workshop within the Dove Self-Esteem Project to end hair-based discrimination within schools. Available from February 2021, this programme will provide teachers with guidance and downloadable resources to educate pupils on the issue.

To find out more about the CROWN UK Fund and how to apply for a grant, visit the the CROWN UK Fund website. Additionally, both Emma Dabiri and Zina Alda have created petitions to make hair discrimination illegal under the UK Equalities Act. To support change, sign both petitions at change.org.

To read more on Stylist about hair equality, click here. 

Main image: Getty

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