People • Inspiration
Oct.12,2021By Boulevard Staff
Contemporary artists are constantly creating new works that celebrate the beauty and power of natural Black hair. In the spirit of the CROWN Act — legislation that has been spreading across the country in an effort to protect against race-based hair discrimination — these books and public artworks capture that celebratory spirit for the next generation of crown-wearing kids. For beauty businesses, works like these present an opportunity to put their money where their merch is by sharing and promoting them online or even stocking copies on their shelves.
Here are four youth-friendly celebrations of natural Black hair to help your salon welcome the next generation of the movement:
“A fresh cut makes boys fly,” reads the official synopsis for this 2017 book written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James. The play on words tips the writer’s hat toward the importance of hair and the transcendence that the perfect haircut makes available. The countless awards and accolades that Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut has earned herald the book as a celebration of Black culture, Black language, and Black joy.
The read-aloud Crown story elevates natural hair as something to be tended to, cared for, and pampered, instead of something to change or hide. With a perspective focused on Black boys in particular, the book emphasizes that loving what you see in the mirror can change how you value yourself and shift how you interact with the world around you.
My Hair takes natural hair out on the town to show off the styles and looks that put Black hair in its best light. Young readers will witness the thrill of preparing for a party and learn to value the endless possibilities of intricate and beautiful hairstyles to choose from, like dreads, braids, twist-outs, and fades. The book realizes author Hannah Lee’s wish that more of the stories she devoured in her youth had featured children that looked like her. Both Lee and illustrator Allen Fatimaharan are recipients of the UK’s FAB Prize for undiscovered Black, Asian, and minority ethnic writers and illustrators.
Matthew A. Cherry is a former wide receiver in the NFL, an award-winning director, and the author of Hair Love, a tender tale about appreciating your natural hair and feeling the love between fathers and daughters. Illustrations by Vashti Harrison help to create a sense of empowerment and honor the Black experience through the unique coils and curls that bring protagonist Zuri and her father together over the course of the story. The book ties in beautifully with the mostly silent Oscar-winning short film that Cherry directed, which is also titled Hair Love.
In July 2021, the unveiling of a new mural on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue introduced the CROWN Act to the heart of Washington, D.C. Artist Candice Taylor created the mural as part of an art series spread throughout the city in celebration of diversity, social justice themes, and education and empowerment. The five women depicted in the piece sport braids, locs, twists, and knots in an homage to the natural hairstyles that the CROWN Act protects.
Whether out in the world or between the four walls of your salon, celebrations of natural Black hair can take many forms. These artworks are just some of the tools beauty businesses can use to help their employees and their customers pass the celebration onto the next generation, so the spirit of the Crown Act will grow stronger and stronger as time goes on.
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