GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — No matter who sits in Jacobi Garrett’s salon chair at JoJo’s House of Beauty, her goal is to protect her client’s hair, from the subcutaneous tissue to the tips.
“Our heads, our crowns, our hair is perfect just the way that it is,” Garrett said during an interview with FOX 17 earlier this week.
Garrett is a natural hair stylist at JoJo’s, a Black-owned beauty salon where the staff not only styles hair of all textures but also educates their clients on proper upkeep.
“So, right now we’re doing lots of extensions, a lot of faux locks, a lot of knotless braids and box braids,” Garrett said. “So, we’re coming into the spring, so now’s the time to come in, change up your regimen and get those sort of protective styles.”
Garrett said protective styles like locks, braids and twists have been worn and embraced in the Black community for centuries. However, over the last decade or so, she’s seeing it become more mainstream and trendy.
“Even my Hispanic friends are like, ‘I want my natural curl back, like, how can I do this?’ Just every shade of woman wants to embrace [their natural hair] and kind of minimize the abuse that we’ve caused our hair over the last 25 years trying to live up to the standards of society,” Garrett said. “I think it’s a yearning for a lot of women. With African American women, I think we’re just now getting the stamp of approval that our hair is OK.”
"About 15 years ago I stopped chemically straightening my hair not just because I wanted to own that my hair looked naturally curly & kinky. But, because the chemicals used impacted my body."@SarahAnthony517 reintroduces the #MiCrownAct— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) March 5, 2021
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However, it comes with unwanted controversy, she said, like hair discrimination.
“So, the other day I actually had a conversation with a [white] gentleman that probably was about five or six years older than me,” Garret recalled. “And the first thing he said to me--I had never met this young man before--he said, ‘Oh my goodness, I love your hair so much, and it looks so clean.’”
Garrett was shocked. However, she didn’t overreact.
She said comments like that, or microaggressions, whether intentional or unintentional, are pretty common in the Black community. It's one form of discrimination the community faces.
“We’ve seen children sent home, told they can’t have their pictures taken. We’ve seen that children cannot wrestle or participate in sports or even graduate, walk across the graduation stage all because of the way they wear their hair,” Rep. Sarah Anthony said during a Zoom interview last week. “It really is ridiculous that in 2021 we still have to tackle this type of discrimination.”
Representative Anthony (D, District 68) said it can also have a devastating impact on people in the workplace. According to MiCrown.org, Black women are three times more likely to have their hair perceived as unprofessional. So, to combat hair discrimination, she reintroduced the MiCrown Act in February.
“I’m excited that after the bill was introduced it didn’t go to a legislative graveyard, that it went to last term. It went to the judiciary committee, and this is a committee that’s very active,” Representative Anthony said. “So, I think that’s a good-faith effort from our Speaker of the House, from our Republican colleagues who control where the bill goes.”
Representative Anthony said it’s a positive step in the right direction. She believes that it’ll get to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk soon so she can sign it.
Garrett's excited too. She said it’s long overdue. Nevertheless, she hopes the MiCrown Act will deliver the final punch in the fight against hair discrimination.
“I hope that it literally shakes people awake and say, 'You know what? You are ok, no matter what your hair looks like,'” Garret said.