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Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review

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A Rebuttal to "Arréglate Ese Pajón": Reflections on Natural Hair Movements, the Crown Act, and #betraylatinidad


The CROWN Act is a huge achievement for multiple jurisdictions in the United States. However, legal shifts alone cannot do the work of dismantling a systemic culture of anti-Blackness in public and private space. This Article argues that profound cultural shifts must accompany political and legal shifts around an anti-Black history of hair policing. One example of a cultural shift advanced by Black activists, creators, and artists is the creation of natural hair salons, a social space that performsthe work of celebrating Black hair amid a harmful culture of respectability politics and Eurocentrism.

To advance this argument, this Article focuses on the happenstance of the passage of the CROWN Act at the same time as another significant development in the United States: the opening of Miss Rizos Salon in New York City. Miss Rizos Salon made its own name as one of the first natural hair salons in the Dominican Republic, an achievement borne of Black-centered organizing against structural and interpersonal anti-Blackness. Dominican salons in both the Dominican Republic and in the United States have served as common sites of pelo bueno versus pelo malo due to the Dominican salon’s established trait as the place clients go to straighten or relax hair. Today, the reclamation of this space into a reimagined site for the celebration of natural hair creates a promising venue for tackling anti-Black attitudes towards natural hair that cannot easily be addressed by legal regimes. It is this transnational movement of Black organizing that is the direct rebuttal to the command “arréglate ese pajón.” Rather than acquiesce to the command, the Black transnational natural hair movement responds by obliterating the white supremacist projects that created the command.

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