There may not have been a wealth of Black nominees at the 92nd Academy Awards, but there were at least two Black winners. Karen Rupert Toliver and Matthew Cherry just won the Oscar for Best Animated Short for Hair Love, which tells the story of a father learning to do his daughter's gorgeous Afro-textured hair while her mother is in the hospital.
As the pair took the stage for their respective acceptance speeches, the topic of representation was in front of mind. "We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply," Rupert Toliver said to a room that burst into applause. "Especially in cartoons. Because in cartoons, that's how we first see our movies, and that's how we shape our lives and how we see the world."
Cherry then took the mic to say his piece. "Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, and we wanted to normalize black hair," he explained. "There's a very important issue that's out there, the CROWN Act, and if we can help get this passed in all 50 states, we can help stories like Deandre Arnold's to stop from happening."
Arnold, who accompanied Cherry and Rupert Toliver to the Oscars, is a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas. He was suspended from school for his locs, which went against the dress code. He was given an ultimatum by the school: cut your locs, or don't walk at graduation. He was also banned from prom.
That's exactly what the CROWN Act is looking to fight against. It is legislation that prevents employers and schools K-12 from discriminating against hairstyles typically done by people with Afro-textured strands. So far, it's passed in California, New York, and has been introduced in New Jersey
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