“It’s unfortunate that America continues to perpetuate unfair scrutiny, injustice, and discrimination in our schools and workplaces against Black people for wearing our God-given hair or any other cultural hairstyles.” – Dr. Tamecca Rogers
In December 2022, Congress took steps to block The Crown Act, a law that would prohibit hair discrimination in the workplace and schools. Their attempt was to specifically target Black people, as it relates to Black people who preferably wore natural hairstyles such as locs, afros, or, to put it simply, hair that was not forced into conformity for the sake of political correctness.
In short, this is a serious issue within the Black Community, specifically for those in corporate America and young people who opt to wear their hair naturally. Dr. Tamecca Rogers’s passion project CROWN speaks to an ongoing epidemic of hair discrimination in White America.
It is Dr. Rogers’s hope that this documentary will not only bring awareness to cultures outside of the Black community but, at the same time, shine a light on the resilience and strength of blackness as it relates to Black hair, especially since Dr. Rogers has had personal experience with hair discrimination in her lifetime.
When asked about the impact that experience had on her, Dr. Rogers had this to say: My earliest experience with hair discrimination that I can remember is when I first moved to Tulsa, in a majority-White neighborhood. I was in second grade, and a boy threw a book of matches in my coat hood, setting my hair on fire.
That experience was traumatic but suppressed. The problem is, every time a slight microaggression, or plain discrimination about my hair arises, that traumatic experience plays in my mind as if it was yesterday.
If it has not been made evident by Rogers’s own experience the necessity of this documentary, perhaps this tidbit will; the broadcast features generations of different women like Tonya Forbes, who openly discusses hair challenges she has faced. When asked about the importance of the Crown Act, Rogers expressed it this way: “Without passing the CROWN Act in Oklahoma, our children and adults do not have protection from employment decisions and school disciplinary policies that require them to straighten their hair or get rid of their locs, braids, or twists.”
Ultimately, the goal of the film is to showcase that professionalism should not be defined by what is considered acceptable to White America. Dr, Rogers continued to explain her stance on the Crown Act by sharing this: “We must understand why we are constantly teaching our youth to assimilate and then work on it. For example, right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tiana Parker was kicked out of a majority-Black charter school because of her locs. Additionally, a college recruiter at an Oklahoma City High School told the students to line up by skin color and then by whether their hair was “nappy” or straight.”
Dr. Rogers’s passionate crusade has pushed others to take notice. CROWN has garnered awards already, earning The LA Independent Film Award. When asked about the accolade, Dr. Rogers expressed her gratitude by saying: “I love winning! I am treating that award as if it was an Emmy. Of course, validation is not needed, but it is so nice when others see the beauty of your labor.”
In truth, there is a long way to go for Black people in America; a small victory is a victory nonetheless. CROWN is a movement that extends far beyond the present day. With that said, Dr. Rogers hopes that CROWN leaves viewers of all ages with a sense of pride, saying: “For so long we have been silenced, overlooked, and unheard. This documentary gives us a voice.”
“While we were taught to be strong and suppress our feelings and what we were going through, we had no idea that other Black women shared the same feelings. This documentary confirms our feelings and offers a call for action. The documentary is a whole celebration!”
Watch the trailer for CROWN here.
Interview Done by: Candis Johnson | Candis Johnson is an author and freelance journalist from NJ. She is the editor of the Literary Magazine series SOUL as well the erotica anthology Erogenous Zone. She has a passion for music and the artists who create it.