The Magnolia Literacy Project
“Black History Month: True Freedom to Embrace What Is Naturally Ours”
By LaWanda Dickens
Black History Month 2023 is extra special to hair artist, L. Lashley, owner of Salon Exclusive in Jackson, Mississippi.
Over the past year, she has been masterminding the CROWN and Glory Beauty Expo to engage the Jackson and surrounding community in a runway art show centered around natural hair, high fashion, and music. The event, just one week away, will take place on Friday, February 17, in the historic Farish Street District at the Alamo Theater, a well-known gathering site for activism against injustice. Doors open at 6:00 P.M. The event begins at 6:30 P.M.
In deciding on the event’s title, Lashley was inspired by Psalms 8:5-8, “We are crowned with glory and honor.”
This scripture coincides with the local business owner’s mission to challenge an issue that has led to a tradition of exclusion across the world, race-based hair discrimination. For decades, Lashley has served individuals of various races at her salon, gaining a heightened understanding of challenges her clients grapple with when it comes to their natural hair, especially disparaging cultural norms.
Certain groups have been systemically conditioned to believe that their hair needs to be processed or altered from its authentic state for it to be appropriate, stylish, or professional. One of the most diminishing forms of injustice, race-based hair discrimination, underlies adverse actions against people in schools, the workplace, and many other spaces – from children being expelled to employees losing their jobs.
“What I want to do is bring communities together in celebration of natural hair and diversity among people while raising awareness of race-based hair discrimination and the CROWN Act, which is not yet signed into law in our state,” Lashley told Literacy Shapers. “CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.
Lashley views the CROWN and Glory Beauty Expo as a step towards further energizing the movement to add Mississippi to the list of states that have passed the CROWN Act, making the practice of race-based hair discrimination illegal.
“This event is designed to bring us together during Black History Month, to embrace cultural pluralism, and to truly celebrate our rights to be us authentically,” said Lashley.
Featured artists will include models and designers from the Magnolia State in addition to New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, and California. Designers from Tokyo, Japan and Nigeria will be present as well.
The cost of admission is $25. Tickets can be purchased through one of the following platforms:
EventBrite (fees will apply): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crown-glory-beauty-expo-2023-tickets-482098909817
Or Cash App (no fees): $TheeLashBag
The Magnolia Literacy Project’s
initiative to showcase the writing and art