Black women in America know how relieved Forever First lady Michelle Obama considered wearing her hair in braids while living in the White House. But then she thought of the American people.
Rocking her braids, Obama is now on a 13-night cross-country tour promoting her new book, “The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times.”
Now six years removed from the White House, Obama says she made the decision to straighten and curl her hair during her husband’s term as president because, “they’re not ready for it,” she said recalling her thoughts at the time.
Recalling the 2014 upheaval when Barack wore a tan suit, Obama said she could imagine the fallout if she had worn her hair in a natural style.
Like so many Black women, Obama says she sacrificed the hairstyle she would have preferred to fit in and be accepted. She didn’t want the conversation to be about her hair. It was more important she said to keep the focus on her husband’s goals.
“Let me keep my hair straight, Let’s get health care passed,” she said were her thoughts at the time.
Obama said she recognized this is a dilemma Black women deal with on a regular basis with many giving in like she did to fit in in the workplace or society.
While standards are beginning to change, Black women — and also men — are still dealing with discrimination around their hairstyles that aren’t seen as conforming to White cultural standards.
Earlier this year the U.S. House passed the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The legislation prohibits discrimination based on someone’s hairstyle, including those “in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.”
The bill stalled in the senate.