GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A story that made national headlines last week out of Mount Pleasant has reignited a conversation about hair discrimination.
After a 7-year-old girl from Mount Pleasant had her hair cut off by a classmate and then later a teacher from school, it sparked outrage across the country.
Samantha Tyler, a mother of three living in Kent County, says it reminded her of some of the struggles she faced growing up.
“When I first heard it, I think my heart just kind of sunk. I feel like I had a flashback to myself as a kid," Tyler said.
Cindy Beresford, a natural hairstylist in Kentwood, says the story is raising awareness about the “Crown Act,” a bill that would ban race-based hair discrimination.
“Our hair grows out of our heads the way that God designed our hair to grow out of our heads and so I personally believe that natural hair is one of God's greatest creations," Beresford said.
The Crown Act bill was reintroduced in Michigan this year by State Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing. The bill is still waiting for a committee hearing to be scheduled.
Meanwhile, Ingham County passed a resolution banning hair discrimination for public employees and Kent county could soon follow.
“I take pride in educating women and men about their natural hair and how to embrace it and love it. I would highly suggest that anyone just take two minutes to go on to thecrownact.com and please sign the petition," Beresford said.
Tyler says our hair is a part of us, it shapes who we are, there’s a lot of history behind it, and it shouldn’t be a barrier in the workforce for anyone.
“There should be no bias that would prevent someone from getting a job based upon their hair," Tyler said.
Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack says he's presenting a proclamation to the board followed by some policy actions.
In a statement, he says in part, "With the help of my fellow Kent County board of commissioners, I plan to end all discrimination within our influence. I plan to add the crown act into our hiring practices as well as the hiring practices of our contractors and subcontractors."
As for Jurnee, the young girl from Mount Pleasant, her father transferred her to another school.
The Mount Pleasant School District is conducting a review of the incident.
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