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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A billion-dollar industry for Black hair, but few Black owners

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Most of the time, Black History Month is used as a platform to discuss noteworthy figures within the black community often forgotten throughout history. This year, however, Audacy wanted to use it as a jumping off point for a series about cultural topics that some consider too taboo to tackle. One of those topics is hair.

As host Femi Redwood points out, for everyone, hair is an expression of self. At least it should be, anyway. When it comes to the Black community, it’s a component that’s unnecessarily politicized…literally.

You may have heard of the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, a piece of legislation specifically geared towards preventing discrimination against hairstyles predominantly worn by Black people. Despite it being passed by the House 3 years ago, however, it’s only a law in 14 of the country’s 50 states.

To say that there’s still work that needs to be done would be an understatement, but it’s nearly impossible to understand the current climate without looking back at when Black Americans first realized it was an issue.

In this very special Black History Month podcast, not only do we explore the history of hair care, but also take a look back at the life and legacy of the woman who helped the entire race realize it’s worth: Madam C.J. Walker.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Madam C.J. Walker was the first American woman of any race to become a self-made millionaire. She achieved this by making products for an overlooked market: Black hair care.

More than 100 years later, this previously ignored industry is now one of the biggest personal care categories. But how many Black women are profiting off the industry that profits off of them?


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