Glamour‘s powerful September cover features six Black women who share their own experiences with discrimination and microaggressions
By Kaitlyn Frey, People
Gabrielle Union, Keke Palmer, Uzo Aduba and Marsai Martin are getting candid about the discrimination Black women face over their hair.
The stars teamed up to film a powerful PSA, “I’VE BEEN TOLD,” released in tandem with Glamour‘s September cover story, which is features the stories of six Black women across the country and the stigmas they’ve faced related to their hair. At the beginning of the video, each actor recalls common microaggressions Black women are confronted with over their natural hairstyles.
“I’ve been told it’s too big,” Union, 47, said. “I’ve been asked, ‘Is it real?'” Aduba, 39, added.
“I’ve been told it blocks people’s view,” Palmer, 26, said.
The stars also share specific stories, which were anonymously submitted to Glamour by Black women across the United States, of hair discrimination as a way to spread awareness and amplify Black voices.
Martin, 16, read one Black woman’s experience of being “mocked and ridiculed for the frizzy coils that escape my tightly wound bun.”
Another woman opened up about dealing with discrimination in the workplace. “The first time I walked into the office with my natural hair, my supervisor asked if it was forever,” Union read.
Other Black women say they’ve witnessed microagressions as early as in elementary school. “I’ve seen children humiliated at school, getting suspended,” Martin recounted of one Black woman’s story. “The baby girl whose teacher cut her hair because her beads were making ‘too much noise.’ Those actions are bullying, discrimination, microaggressions and acts of racial injustice.”
In addition to sharing their experiences with discrimination, Black women also opened up about why they love their natural curls and won’t stop wearing it.
“I wear my hair boldly and proudly as it is the crown that makes me unique,” Aduba said.
Union added, “Even though it can take a full day to wash and style, I love everything about my hair.”
Glamour‘s September cover story also dives into the details behind the CROWN Act, which was created in 2019 to protect against discrimination on race-based hairstyles. It’s aimed to extend statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles Black women commonly wear like braids, locs, twists and knots in the workplace and public schools.
“The relationship between Black women and their hair is unique, powerful, and extraordinary,” says journalist Ashley Alese Edwards, who guest edited the September issue. “Yet for too long, Black hair has been the subject of unwarranted scrutiny and controversy. I’m so glad Glamour recognized the importance of the issue and lent me their platform to create this package to amplify the message that our hair is beautiful, complex, professional, and not up for debate.”