Dove hosted a breakfast Friday at the legendary Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans in honor of something legendary happening.

“Crowns & Conversations,” hosted by Esi Eggleston Bracey, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Unilever, was a special event to celebrate the CROWN Act. But it wasn’t just an opportunity for beautiful Black women to get together and share a mimosa, the event also served as a call to action. The morning fostered a conversation to build something bigger than us.

“We formed a Black beauty alliance to make sure you are clear on how we, together, can impact our community,” said Bracey. “It was mind boggling to us that in 2018, and still in 2019, when you Google search pretty women you see White women with blond hair and blue eyes.”

“The stories continued on issues with our hair and how our hair wasn’t acceptable or accepted. All of our glory and our hair is our crown,” she continued.

Dove sponsored research to discover what Black women were dealing with daily when it came to their hair. The findings were distressing, but not surprising.

Eighty percent of Black women were more likely to change their natural hair to meet social needs at work. Black women were one-and-a-half times more likely to have reported being sent home all because of their hair, and those who haven’t experienced that know someone who has. Eighty two percent of Black women have reported receiving grooming policies at work, compared to 60 percent of White women. And natural hairstyles such as locs, braids and bantu knots were ranked the lowest for “job readiness.”

Houston(lantaVegas), we clearly have a problem.

That’s where Senator Holly J. Mitchell and the CROWN coalition come in. ESSENCE has been following the journey of this monumental legislation since we got wind of SB 188, the Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, in California. And last week, the bill was passed unanimously in the State Assembly. But the work doesn’t stop there. The goal is to have this legislation sweep the nation.

The Dove booth at Essence Festival Beauty Carnival

“Standing there, July 3rd, next to my new partner Governor Gavin Newsom, to allow us to have the first bill signing ceremony in his inner office, since he’s become governor and to see him set the tone [was moving]. He got it. And it wasn’t about me telling him or his staff telling him, he got it,” said Senator Mitchell. “So for me, the only Black woman in the California State Senate, to know that my governor saw me, he sees me, spoke volumes to me personally.”

But not everyone is as supportive of Newsom or has the same vision as Mitchell. So the CROWN coalition must continue its work. But it understands that the mission can’t be achieved unilaterally. New York might be the next to take the leap, with the city already making moves in that direction, but CROWN’s mission is to ensure that it doesn’t stop with just those two states.

Esi Eggleston Bracey, Stella Reese Chase, and Senator Holly J. Mitchell
(courtesy Dove)

The CROWN Coalition has launched a national petition to support these legislative measures with the goal of reaching 100,000 signatures. When ESSENCE stopped by the Dove activation at Beauty Carnival during Essence Festival on Saturday, the count was at 4,158 (with an additional 1,158 votes forthcoming). So there is still much ground to cover.

Essence Festival attendees can sign the petition in person at the Dove booth at Beauty Carnival in the convention center. You can also go to the Crown Act website to show your support.

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