Discrimination is still a daily reality for African Americans. Two significant issues related to discrimination are sports and schools.
Hair is an important element by which non-blacks discriminate against black people. In the 21st century, hair-based discriminatory issues have gained more attention. The hair positivity movement addresses multiple aspects of this issue. Positivity includes expanding public awareness of the negative effects on children’s self-image that can result from hair straightening and related treatments.
Regarding the workplace, several states now include hair as an element of anti-discrimination legislation. In December 2019, New Jersey became the third state to enact workplace-related legislation.
In sports, a case in which a white referee, Alan Maloney, forced an African American teenager, Andrew Johnson, to have his hair cut during a wrestling competition has helped call attention to this issue. A video of this forced cutting went viral. Maloney was later suspended for two years.
Using African and African-influenced hair styles and hair treatments is a culturally based element of positive self image. In January 2020, first-term US Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts called attention to this issue in the context of a rare medical condition from which she suffers, alopecia. Pressley had formerly worn Senegalese twists, on which many people had made positive or negative opinions. Posting a photograph of herself in her current bald state, she revealed that she has lost all her hair from this condition. Her interview mentions that the complex issues around hair for African Americans is one reason she went public.