Hair discrimination affects children as well: From lots to afros, many children of color face discrimination in school and recreational acts because society has taught that their natural hair is “messy” and “unkempt”. Hair discrimination has no age or shade on it. Hair discrimination is regressive: Upholding these negative and untrue stereotypes leads to a less accepting and advanced society. Hairstyles that may reflect religion, such as locs, or culture, such as Fulani braids, are sacred to the cultures they reflect and should be treated like something to be cherished versus something to be dissatisfied with. There is so much I could say, but if you learn anything from these five points, learn that upholding a regressive and oppressive social construct will lead to a dysfunctional society. Why not be accepting?
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination, ”I had the pleasure of interviewing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyla Harris who is well known for playing Jasmine Wallace in ABC’s For Life. The show has recently been picked up for a second season. Her other credits include Tales (2019), Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (2017–2018), a series regular role as Esther in the History Channel’s Mini-Series Six (2017), and lead roles in the feature films Coins for Christmas and Claws. She is also president of a championship-winning policy debate team, leader in an all-girl volunteer group, an active BETA club member, and she works with the Saving Our Daughters Organization (co-founded by Keke Palmer), which works with girls from multicultural backgrounds through the arts to help them overcome esteem obstacles. Besides acting, she focuses on getting a degree in law.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what inspired you to become a natural hair advocate?
I’m an Afro-Latina born with beautiful 4c curls that I had to learn to love. This society is filled with European beauty standards that usually states to anyone with kinky or coily hair that their natural hair is not good enough. I’m here to say to all of those amazing girls of color that they ARE enough.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the funniest things that has happened to me is meeting the woman I represent in the show For Life on accident. I was at an industry event for one of the companies, and I walked into the woman’s bathroom. As soon as I saw Ms. Wright (not knowing it was Ms. Wright), I told her she looked stunning. Then, I used the bathroom, and coming out she said, “You’re me!”, to which I replied, “I’m you?”. It was a funny moment and we talked for a bit.
As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
Do what you want in life. It sounds cliché, but there is only one life and one you. Do not waste it on what others think or want you to be. Also, when you do the work, people will notice regardless, so do it for the love of the art and not the attention.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Join in mirror work. In order to reverse those societal implications of beauty standards onto us, you have to tell yourself that you are content with what you see. And you should be.
Dance when no one is watching. It’s an energy and mood booster that you can’t beat (plus everyone needs a little Soca in their life!).
Take time with yourself. You are delicate and wonderfully made, so extend yourself the grace to just be with no pressure. You’d be surprised what you’ll find within you.
Can you share with our readers some of your techniques to style/maintain natural hair?
Always have a good detangling brush. I usually use a denman, and even on dry hair its very smooth with my curls.
I love, love, love a good metal pik. You can also get a wooden oil-infused pik. I keep it in my purse just in case!
Water your hair like you water your plants, and remember some oils are a sealant. I used to neglect my hair of good ole-fashioned water for fear that my styles would be ruined, but it does so much for the growth and protection of our curls.
Finger detangle when you can. It will reduce shedding and control knots.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can help articulate to our readers your “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”. If you can please share a story or example, for each.
- Hair discrimination Is not dead, especially just because you choose not to see color: Hair discrimination is alive and prevalent today as we speak, and being blind to it is not the way to go. Understand why it happens and learn ways to combat the things from happening (even lean into legislation: check out “The Crown Act”).
- Hair discrimination roots in racial stereotypes that have shaped overtime: Hairstyles such as locs and braids have been looked down upon historically because of racist stereotypes that have been instilled through colonialism and imperialism.
- Yes, cultural appropriation does exist, especially In hair: This does not mean not to wear your hairstyles, although you do not have place in a culture. This means to APPRECIATE those hairstyles and the culture they came from by learning the historical significance of them. For examples, cornrows were used as geographical maps for escape roots during slavery, and they also are used a protective style for black women to date because of the sensitivity to our hair. These cornrows are called “unprofessional” in work places when black women wear them, and we get discriminated against because of the stereotypes that have been instilled. So, when you wear these hairstyles, understand and appreciate them for what they are.
- Hair discrimination affects children as well: From lots to afros, many children of color face discrimination in school and recreational acts because society has taught that their natural hair is “messy” and “unkempt”. Hair discrimination has no age or shade on it. Hair discrimination is regressive: Upholding these negative and untrue stereotypes leads to a less accepting and advanced society. Hairstyles that may reflect religion, such as locs, or culture, such as Fulani braids, are sacred to the cultures they reflect and should be treated like something to be cherished versus something to be dissatisfied with. There is so much I could say, but if you learn anything from these five points, learn that upholding a regressive and oppressive social construct will lead to a dysfunctional society. Why not be accepting?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is short and simple “reciprocity”. Be the change you want to see in the world, be the people you want to meet, be the love you want to receive. Life is about human connection and understanding, when you reciprocate, it makes everything clearer.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
I would love to have a meal with Donald Glover, Iyanla Vanzant, or Joy DeGruy.
Donald Glover has always been a creative inspiration for me, from 2013 when I just turned 13 and listened to my first Gambino album. He’s a writing, rapping, singing, producing, etc. genius. To meet my favorite artist and indulge in what he has learned in his industries would be thebomb.com.
Iyanla Vanzant because she’s a beam of light and peace that would be a blessing to meet. I loved all her books and lectures, and she’s an amazing spiritual coach.
Joy DeGruy is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Her name and talent speaks for herself, and I would love how she became inspired to do her life’s work.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram , Twitter
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!