Fayetteville business owners talk about the importance of ‘locals’

On New Years Day, a new law went into effect that prevented Illinois state schools from creating dress code requirements based on hairstyle.

Illinois Public Law 102-0360, also known as the Jett Hawkins Law, was introduced after a 4-year-old child learned that his pigtails were a violation of school dress code. His mother, Ida Nelson, started raising awareness about how the stigma of children’s hair can impact their educational development.

The stigma continues from school to the workplace. In 2019, California lawmakers passed the CROWN Act, a law that prohibits racial discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, hair texture, or hairstyle in the workplace. “CROWN” stands for Creating a respectful and open world for natural hair.

Last year, Fayetteville Councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram called on Fayetteville to pass the CROWN law, like Raleigh and Greensboro. In North Carolina, Senate Bill 165 was introduced on February 25, 2021 to enact the CROWN Act.

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Loc Technician Tressa Evans has been on this mission for 18 years. The Baltimore native graduated from Fayetteville State University with a master’s degree in professional cosmetology and is the owner of the Natural Genius hair salon on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.

She describes locs as a collection of shed hair that locks into a curl pattern when shampooing. When rolled to the palm or twisted, the curl pattern creates a cylindrical look.

Dominique Williams, originally from Evans and the Virgin Islands, explained the difference between “locs” and “dreads”.

Rappers J.Cole, Jay-Z and the late artist Basquiat all have dreads, which are unkempt and grow freely. According to Williams, locs are associated with strength and energy while dreads are “rastas” and “shottas”.

Rastas, or followers of the Rastafari religion, wear dreadlocks as a sign of religious affiliation. One of the most famous Rastas, Bob Marley, was known to have smoked “ganja” (i.e. marijuana). Therefore, much of society associates locs or dreads with smoking marijuana.

The media plays a role in a negative image of locs, often associating the hairstyle with criminal behavior. Father and business owner Kurin Keys started a movement called Decriminalize Locs to help remove the stigma associated with hairdressing, as he is the father of sons with hairdressing.

Contrary to the negative image, having a natural hairstyle, especially locs or dreads, is about growth and commitment. Speaking of the development of locs, Evans says, “Locs don’t always start with the prettiest hairstyle. But, when you see how quickly they grow, you are just as quick to create a commitment to yourself. They create a part of your lifestyle that you didn’t know existed otherwise.

“Some people grow to size in five years. If you apply the same commitment to any aspect of your life, it will grow just as fast. Locs symbolize the life we ​​can grow when we are patient and consistent.

A lawyer with locs

Being in the legal field, attorney Tyran George understands how patience and consistency create growth. While in law school, George became frustrated with traveling two hours for a haircut and let his hair grow out.

After returning home for the summer, her sister started her first set of locs. He passes the bar and interviews for a dozen jobs. But, he was not hired.

At that time, he hadn’t seen another lawyer with locs and thought that was why no one had hired him. The first day after being hired by Ron McSwain at the Cumberland County Public Defender’s Office, he says a court aide had a hard time believing he was a lawyer.

George says he didn’t see another attorney with locs until a 2006 public defenders conference in Wilmington. He cut his first set of locs in an effort to gain a wider range of customers. But as he gained clients, he felt like he was “selling himself out” or trying to conform to society’s idea of ​​what a lawyer should look like.

In 2014, he expanded his premises and continues to practice law on Gillespie Street in downtown Fayetteville.

Both Evans and George work to erase the stigma associated with locs and dispel misconceptions.

Locs, for example, aren’t just a “black” hairstyle: there are a number of white people who wear them, and society often associates those who do with words and phrases like “hippie”, “loves nature”, “rebellious” or “Bohemian”.

George says white people who wear locs may even be looked down upon by other white Americans — like what can happen with black Americans.

“So that’s one thing both bands have in common,” he says.

Peace to Evans, George and all activists who become active.

Rakeem “Keem” Jones is a community advocate and father of three from the Shaw Road/Bonnie Doone neighborhood of Fayetteville. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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