The fourth annual Twin Cities Natural Hair and Beauty Expo welcomed dozens of vendors to the cities to embrace natural hair and shed light on hair discrimination on Sunday.
The exhibit returned to Minneapolis for the first time in two years, highlighting the beauty of natural hair and bringing awareness to black health, wellness and economic growth.
“Black hair is big, it’s bold, it’s loud, it’s up, it’s down,” said Africa Brown, owner and stylist of Brown Beauty. “It’s whatever you want it to be.”
Black hair comes in different shapes, styles and sizes.
Brown is one of about 60 vendors who set up shop at the Twin Cities Natural Hair and Beauty Expo.
One of the exhibit’s missions is to empower black men and women to wear their natural hair and embrace it.
Brown explained that it’s difficult to navigate because not every space welcomes natural hair.
“As a teacher and an entrepreneur, I feel like I have to come into work with my students with straight hair because that’s what my fellow teachers look like,” Brown said.
A recent Dove study found that as early as age 5, one in two black children experience hair discrimination, and the impact lasts a lifetime.
Organizers are using the natural hair and beauty expo to shine a light on hair discrimination and the push to make natural hair acceptable in Minnesota.
“It’s considered unprofessional to have big, natural styles,” said Briana Cress, a Minneapolis hairstylist. “I’ve experienced the stress firsthand with clients who just feel like they can’t be themselves and can’t be accepted if their hair isn’t toned.”
Cress is on the production team for the show.
This year, there is a big focus on the CROWN Act. CROWN stands for “creating a respectful and open world for natural hair”. The bill would make it illegal for anyone to discriminate based on hair texture and style in the workplace, schools and beyond.
Rep. Rena Moran participated in this activity and educated the attendees about the national initiative.
In Minnesota, the House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act in February of this year, but the Senate did not vote on it.
“I literally have to change my whole look in order to get a job,” said Yvonne Amarteifio, a salesperson at the showroom.
Amarteifio said that while working in the corporate sector, she felt forced to fit the mold.
“I want to be able to be who I am all the time. But to get out there and make a living. This is what I have to do,” she said.
She said the CROWN Act could change that because everyone deserves to feel good in their own skin and hair.
“Black hair is everything. It’s empowerment. It is strong. It is versatile. It’s everything,” said Amarteifio.
The CROWN Act is now law in 12 states and several major cities.
At the federal level, it passed the US House of Representatives in March, but has not been voted on in the Senate. President Joe Biden said he would sign it into law if it reached his desk.