Ms. Mireille Liong
It didn't take a nanosecond for me to say yes when Mr. Derek Slaughter asked if I wanted to testify for anti-discrimination legislation. The NYC Commission on Human Rights where he serves as the Brooklyn Community Service Center Director, was looking for people in support of the proposed amends on the Crown Act.
Even more inspired after a welcoming message from Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives, Miss Brittny Saunders, I got to work.
The support and response that I got, especially on Facebook, was tremendous and for that, I sincerely thank you. For those who couldn't make it and interested is my testimony, here it is. Feel free to share!
My name is Mireille Liong, I am a lifelong Social Entrepreneur and Natural Hair Advocate with a Master Degree in IT.
Maintaining the longest running natural hair website for over 15 years gave me comprehensive insight on the issues of inequal hair rights. I witnessed the devastating impact up-close. On our hair, on the psyche of our people and frankly how it affects nearly every aspect of our lives.
To underscore my support for the proposal to amend Rule 47, I like to highlight: The human rights issue, the impact on our hair and the financial ramifications.
The Human Rights Issue
When a mom in the Netherlands won the case of her 12-year-old daughter who was suspended from ballet school because the mom did not want to straighten her daughter’s hair, I realized that Black people are the only people on planet earth who don’t have the fundamental human right to wear their God-given tresses natural.
We need to go to court to wear styles like locs, braids and cornrows which are all perfect for our natural texture. Instead we are forced to comply to a hair-etiquette based on strands that are genetically different. This is inhumane!
This is inhumane and it comes with a serious price which brings me to the next point.
The impact on our hair
Black babies are known to come out of the womb with the most hair on their head. Yet, our teenage girls are the first to suffer from hair loss, massively.
Research tells us that 73% of Black women are suffering from relaxer induced alopecia, a hair loss condition related to hair straightening chemicals and weaves.
These statistics should be alarming enough to make clear why the proposed rules are essential but I can’t leave out the financial ramifications.
The financial ramifications
By the time most Black women hit 30, they have spent a mortgage on hair. Nine times more than any other ethnic group.
The black hair care industry is a 2.5 billion-dollar industry. Please do the math and calculate the impact on our communities if our women didn’t have to spend nearly 2.2 billion dollars more on weaves and straighteners just to comply with society's standard of appropriate hairstyles unnatural to our texture.
So not only do I fully support the proposal of the NYC commission on Human rights to amend its rules on Title 47. I think these rules are imperative.
The current hair etiquette is inhumane for Black people, it literally destroys our follicles and set back our communities for billions of dollars.
Thank you and thank you Commission for the work that you do.
I am happy to donate a copy of my book Black Follicles, the Untold History of Black Follicles to the Commission as a gift for the work that you do and in the hope that it can help add to the understanding why anti-discrimination hair laws are needed.
Have a complaint about hair discrimination? Contact the NYC commission on Human Rights.