New laws are on the books in California, New York and, most recently, Montgomery County, Maryland, to protect people from discrimination because of how they wear their hair.
News4's Tracee Wilkins recently sat down with a group of women to talk about natural hair. Read below for part of their discussion and check out the final part of the series on News4 at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
What is natural hair to you?
"So, natural hair to me is hair that's in its unaltered state. So whether you are rocking your natural hair with color, it can still be considered natural - as long as you're not breaking down the chemical bonds that is actually causing your hair to curl," said Dr. Isfahan Chambers-Harris, owner of Alodia Hair Care.
What about the folks who aren't doing chemical treatments, but are straightening their hair with a blowout, for instance?
"That's still considered natural. So, when you are straightening your hair, you're altering a different bond. It's not necessarily the chemical bonds in the hair, it's actually the water bonds that are in the hair," Chambers-Harris said.
Let's talk about the imagery of why we decide to straighten our hair.
"I think that is really a huge issue among those of us who wear our hair natural and those who are maybe considering it. It's the concept of what's beautiful and I grew up - there weren't beautiful black women on the covers of magazines," said Valerie Ervin, a former Maryland gubernatorial candidate and social justice advocate.
"The only person I could really reference was Angela Davis who wore that magnificent afro. I just wish I grew up today. All my three granddaughters wear their hair natural ... and that makes me proud for them because they have places to look, to see how beautiful we are in our natural state," Ervin said.