Crown Act could make natural hair discrimination illegal in American public schools and workplaces

By Amarah Ennis

(JAC 210 class assignment using martini-glass organization formula. Family interviews approved by professor)

Afrikka Ennis has worked many jobs in her 45 years of living, from the drive-through of McDonald's to the offices of the Department of Defense. For much of her life, she kept her hair relaxed and straight.

"That's what my mom did to me when I was a child, and so I just kept doing it. I didn't have any knowledge of how to do my hair any other way," Ennis said.

In 2014, Ennis contracted breast cancer, and chemotherapy robbed her of all her hair. When it grew back, it was as soft as a baby's and relaxer-free. She had her natural curls back, and just in time for the natural hair movement to start gaining steam again. Since regrowing her hair, she's preferred protective styles like twists and Bantu knots for the workplace.

Because Ennis works for the federal government, she has yet to encounter any discrimination against her for her natural hair. However, not every African American is lucky enough to be in environments with the same standards of acceptance.

That's why the Crown Act, which successfully passed in the House on September 21 and now rests in the Senate, is so important. The bill, if passed into law, could make natural hair discrimination illegal in American public schools and workplaces.

Black people across the nation recall the stories of Andrew Johnson, DeAndre Arnold, and Kaden Bradford. Johnson was a high school wrestler who, in April 2019, was told either to get rid of his dreadlocks or forfeit a match; the video of a white athletic trainer cutting off his locs quickly went viral. DeAndre Arnold and his cousin, Kaden Bradford, were seniors at a Texas high school and on track for graduation. Both were suspended and barred from walking because they refused to cut their locks.

In addition, a study conducted by Dove on Black hair discrimination revealed that 80 percent of Black women reported having to change their hair for the workplace. They also found that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair.

In 2019, four organizations came together to found the CROWN Coalition: the National Urban League, Color of Change, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and Dove. CROWN is an acronym for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair". Their mission is to "create a world where Black lives are valued, respected and free of oppressive systems."

The CROWN Coalition created the Crown Act in the same year, a piece of legislation which aims to outlaw school and workplace discrimination based on hair texture or style. These laws would protect black people (especially women) from having to compromise their health, culture, and individuality to keep a job or get an education.

Initially, the Crown Act was passed by only seven states: California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington. Virginia was the fourth state to do so, back in March.

However, the act is now on the national table, and the House's approval is a huge step towards creating more Black-inclusive spaces. On the day of the bill's passing, Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted a message of success.

"For far too long, Black women have been penalized for simply existing as themselves--that ends today."

The Crown Act could also mean a shift in the way we evaluate all discrimination under the law.

Currently, discrimination lawsuits must show proof of bias over traits people can't change. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals co-signed this interpretation in 2010, during the EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions case.

In that case, Alabama woman Chastity Jones attended a job interview with her hair in short locs. Her interviewer told her that her hair violated the company's grooming policy, and rescinded their job offer after she refused to cut it. The court sided with the company, stating that because hair can be changed, it can't be discriminated against.

However, the Crown Act supports the CROWN Coalition's interpretation of race as a social construct, one that is also defined by cultural practices like protective hairstyles. This could open avenues for different races to pursue discrimination lawsuits for their cultural practices (for example, traditional tattooing for various Native American cultures).

The enactment of the Crown Act would allow African Americans to have the same rights as white people do: to wear their hair naturally at work and school and not be penalized for it.

Afrikka Ennis may never have dealt with hair discrimination problems herself, but she fully supports the Crown Act for a very simple reason.

"Hair has nothing to do with how good of an employee you are. I don't think that people should be discriminated against at their jobs for anything other than pure work performance."

ESPN writer & New York Times bestselling author Brian Windhorst inspires Sports Journalism students

HAMPTON, Va. (Oct. 30, 2020) – Brian Windhorst was buried in a pile of statistics, typing up high school football box scores in 1999 when page designer and copy editor Butch Maier joined him in the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper sports department.

A few months later, Windhorst burst through the office door and declared, "I have just seen a kid who could become the greatest basketball player ever.

"And he's in the ninth grade."

Cue co-workers laughing at Windhorst then and students in the Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications' new Sports Journalism class laughing with Professor Maier at Windhorst's stories Oct. 29.

This group knew the punchline ahead of time: The ninth-grader was LeBron James.

Fast-forward two decades, and Windhorst is an ESPN senior NBA writer and a two-time New York Times bestselling author, thanks to his writings on James.

"A lot of it has been luck," said Windhorst, referring to the times when other reporters were busy and he was assigned to cover St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, his alma mater in Akron, Ohio.

Back then, James was a skinny freshman and the basketball team had handed out only even-numbered jerseys, so the future King wore an unfamiliar No. 32. Maier shared a screenshot of James in that jersey with the class.

"How much is that throwback worth?" Windhorst said.

The Sports Journalism students learned from Windhorst that, in this profession, it's not always about getting paid. Sometimes it's about paying dues.

When sports editor Larry Pantages told Windhorst the Beacon Journal would not pay to send him to New Jersey to write about James attending a prestigious summer basketball camp, Windhorst bet on himself and paid for the trip out of his own pocket.

"It's really nice to hear tips and advice from someone who was not necessarily handed everything and had all the opportunities in the world but rather worked to get where they are at now," HU student Cole Parker said.

At every stop along his path, Windhorst had to prove himself, getting paid one story at a time or being given a beat to cover on an interim basis.

"Windhorst's journey wasn't easy, and hearing about it was inspiring," HU senior Lauryn Moss said. "It reminded me that I need to work on my craft constantly and that one day it will pay off."

Each student in the Sports Journalism class selects a beat to cover for the semester. Due to COVID-19 interrupting, delaying and postponing athletic seasons, the students and the professor have had to adjust accordingly.

Just because the games stop doesn't mean the reporting does.

"Even with no sports [events], you still have to cover that particular sport you are covering," HU student Aliyu Saadu said. "You have to learn how to do radio, TV and write as well."

Versatility and the ability to adapt keep sports journalism careers going. Windhorst and Maier worked together again at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Windhorst thought he might retire there.

Instead, James made his decision to take his talents to South Beach and play for the Heat. Windhorst took his reporting talents to Miami to cover the Heat for ESPN.

That time, things worked out.

That's not always the case, Windhorst said, when it comes to choosing career paths, selecting story topics and breaking news.

"Journalists have to be able to take a loss," HU student Kory Russell-Brown said, regarding what he learned from Windhorst. "Knowing how to take a loss humbles you and enhances you to become a better writer and reporter."

JAC 408 Sports Journalism is being offered in Spring 2021 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.

Perhaps one day students from this class will make names for themselves on ESPN.

What else did Windhorst say that might help get them there?

"The ability to identify news, have good news judgment and be able to use multimedia platforms are crucial in sports journalism," HU student Cameron Crocheron said. "Those types of abilities are what make you stand out from the crowd."

Do you want to be a part of the Script team?

The Hampton Script is seeking writers, editors, photographers, and social media gurus to help inform the Hampton community about what is happening with our Home by the Sea. It's even more important this semester as we manage through the pandemic.

Do you want to be a part of the Script team? Do you want to make an impact on your campus community? Do you want to get the kind of experience that will help you build your resume?

Apply to Join the Hampton Script here: [docs.google.com]

Mail-In Voting: What You Need to Know About the 2020 Election

By: Sara Avery

Thousands of North Carolinians are opting for mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election due to mounting concerns about the safety of in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. As of September 3, 2020, about 535,000 voters have requested absentee ballots, which is more than 15 times the number of requests submitted at this time in 2016, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE).

However, not all residents are choosing to vote by mail. Many are still casting their ballot in-person, citing concerns of potential election tampering.

"I noticed on the news that they were talking about how Trump doesn't want mail-in ballots and how mailboxes are being taken away," said North Carolina resident Hannah Escala. "I really think he's capable of manipulating the election."

Nasje Alexander, also a N.C. resident, agrees.

"I have a slight concern that [ballots] won't be counted in time. Hopefully, (the U.S. Postal Service) can have some kind of check point to ensure that absentee ballots are accounted for," she said.

In many larger cities in the state, residents have experienced mail slowdowns and have even seen the removal of mail sorting machines. This comes after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ordered more than 650 machines removed across the nation, though he said it was part of a long-term plan.

DeJoy, a top Trump donor, was appointed as postmaster in May. Since his start, he has enacted sweeping changes to the postal service, including eliminating employee overtime and mandating that couriers return at the end of their shift, even if they have not finished their route.

He claims that these measures were taken to cut costs after the Postal Service lost $2 billion dollars in the second quarter of this year.

"Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues," DeJoy told the USPS Board of Governors. "Without dramatic change, there is no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis."

However, several lawmakers have accused him of ulterior motives, saying he has a conflict of interest. DeJoy still owns several million dollars' worth of stocks in XPO Logistics, a contracting company for the postal service.

Additionally, DeJoy has been accused of colluding with Trump to attempt to privatize the service, something conservatives have discussed for years. His opponents cite his firing of two executives who oversaw day-to-day operations, as well as President Trump's blatant blocking of funds to the postal service in order to delay processing mail-in ballots.

Several house representatives, including Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, believe that conservatives will ultimately use the ensuing dysfunction of the postal service to discourage citizen use and promote privatization.

DeJoy has maintained good intentions, but that was not enough to convince Postal Service Inspector General, Tammy Whitcomb, who opened a federal ethics investigation.

House Democrats also wanted to question DeJoy and called him to an Oversight Committee hearing to discuss the extensive changes that he has enacted in his short tenure.

During the hearing, he had several tense exchanges with Democratic Representatives including Rep. Katie Porter (D-Ca.) who grilled DeJoy on his basic knowledge of the agency. He also clashed with Rep. Steven Lynch (D-Ma.) who questioned DeJoy's motives.

"After 240 years of patriotic service delivering the mail, how can one person screw this up in just a few weeks," Lynch said to DeJoy. "Based on what you have actually done...as a fact finder, we can only reach two conclusions. One, either through gross incompetence, you have ended the 240-year history of delivering the mail reliably on time. Or the second conclusion that we can gather, is that you're doing this on purpose."

Lynch also bluntly asked DeJoy if he would reinstall the mail sorting machines, to which DeJoy replied, "No, I will not."

However, he is considering reversing that decision after at least 20 attorney generals, including North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, sued the service.

"The Postal Service is a foundational American institution, and one that is vital to our daily lives," Stein said on his official website. "The Postal Service is how we pay bills, get our medications, and conduct business. But we especially need the Postal Service to be delivering mail on time during a pandemic and weeks before an election that will see more North Carolinians voting by mail than ever before. I will fight to ensure that the Postal Service is preserved, and every North Carolinian's vote is counted."

Despite the lawsuit, President Trump has continued to wage a war against the Postal System stating that mail-in ballots in this election will lead to widespread voter fraud. However, there is no evidence to support his claim, as the overall rate for voter fraud is between 0.00004 percent and 0.00009 percent, according to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice.

It appears that the Trump campaign knows this, as they have begun sending out absentee ballot request forms to supporters in battleground states like North Carolina, where Trump narrowly beat Clinton by 3.67 percent in 2016.

Michael Grether, a high school history teacher and NC resident, said that his parents received a letter in the mail from the president stating how "safe" absentee voting is. The mailer also encouraged voters to turn in their ballot by October 27 to ensure that it can be processed in time.

"What they're saying in public is different than what they're saying in private," he said. "Choose one, the national narrative or the private narrative."

He also has friends who work in data management for the post office who have told him that the likelihood of ballots being manipulated is very low.

"There are security checks each step of the way that are built to prevent tampering," he said. "The rooms where the ballots are put in, have poll workers from each party to watch the ballots."

Grether hopes that American citizens will see what is happening with the postal service and the election and will challenge their representatives to do something.

"It's a democracy, and people need to realize that if we want something to be a certain way, we need to step up, take action, make our voice heard, and put pressure on those in power to make sure something happens," he said. "The people on the left are Americans. The people on the right are Americans. Each side has a right to a voice and a fair election."

Home Fronts: A Peaceful Protest Prevails

By Wakeelah Bashir, Freelance Writer

Nearly 53 years ago during the 1967 Newark riots, residents protested violently in response to the community's mistreatment by those who were sworn to protect them--the police.

Contrary to the initiative the community is taking to end police brutality today, residents from all over New Jersey rallied together May 30 in Newark, New Jersey's largest city, to protest peacefully and bring awareness to racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After a weekend without any violence or arrests being made, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy praised the city of Newark for its civil approach during the city's protest, considering its reputation of being one of the most dangerous cities in New Jersey.

Eighty-eight-year-old Newark resident Geraldine Little recalled the restless week in July 1967, describing it as a civil war between the Newark police and Newark residents.

Continue reading here...

Home Fronts: ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’

By Jonathan Scott, Freelance Writer

June has just started and I already find myself at wit's end-- torn between trying to stay abreast of what's happening in the world on social media, and yet trying to distance myself from viewing the world's dueling health and social ills simultaneously.

During my usual virtual scrolling, I came across a quote from American author and activist Helen Keller, in which I found a rather profound meaning, solace, and significance in what's happening with and around me.

Finish reading here...

Home Fronts: Inflamed Tensions

By Carnell White, Freelance Writer

HARLEM, N.Y. – Parts of New York's Brooklyn and The Bronx boroughs burned Tuesday night as demonstrations turned from peaceful to restless and from civil to looting, awakening "the city that never sleeps."

Large, visibly flustered and vocal crowds reacting to the unlawful death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, gathered across New York City June 2 to vent and protest the injustice in the midst of COVID-19, according to city officials.

With fresh social media images going viral and media coverage of Floyd's arrest, detainment and ultimate demise, uproar sparked across the nation. What started out as hundreds of people quickly turned into thousands as people came together to have their voices heard in New York City streets.

"The city that never sleeps has been divided in the last three months (because of the coronavirus pandemic)," said social media influencer Lissette Hughes. "In May of 2020 it (Floyd's death) was given a reason to bring life back to the city of New York."

Continue reading here...

Chesapeake Bay Foundation leads Virginia in oyster restoration project

By Lauren Grayson

Outside of Smithfield Station, a popular local seafood restaurant, an employee threw a bucket of empty oyster shells into an already overflowing bin labeled "CAUTION: Oyster Restoration at Work."

"Every day, when the cooks take out the trash, they dispose of the oyster shells in a separate bin," store manager Evan Thomas said.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation collects the shells and uses them to construct and maintain the oyster reefs.

"The bin is in front of the restaurant so that when customers walk in, they can see the work that's being done," Thomas said. "It makes us feel like we're really making a difference because where we would otherwise just throw the shells away, we're finding a way to repurpose them."

Smithfield Station and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are trying to increase the number of oysters and slow the rate of species endangerment by increasing the variety of life that exists within freshwater, tidal and marine ecosystems.

Jackie Shannon, manager for the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center, is responsible for gathering volunteers to produce and place man-made clumps of collected oyster shells into the ocean.

"My role is to be a lot more hands-on with the work that we do," Shannon said. "What me and my volunteers do is place clumps of oysters, called hatchery clumps, into the ocean. The goal is that eventually, they'll naturally recruit oyster larvae, producing more baby oysters that will grow to create reef structures. These structures will then eventually serve as a habitat for underwater wildlife."

According to Shannon, these oyster reef structures require years of monitoring. However, if successful, they become self-sustainable and create diverse aquatic ecosystems that have a huge biological impact.

This biological impact includes the preservation of the genetic information of these species, which potentially hold the cure to future diseases and contain overall solutions for survival. As soon as a species goes extinct, all of their genetic information is lost.

According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, water animals and plants are our legacy to future generations. "Preventing habitat loss is the first important step to take in protecting our native species, and restoring important degraded habitat is the second step."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation would be unable to restore degraded aquatic habitats at a steady rate without the community's participation. "Building relationships with the community is essential to progress being made," said Christy Everett, Hampton Roads director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "My job is to build important relationships not only with the government, but with community leaders and representatives as well. Partnering with them is crucial to our goal of improving aquatic biodiversity and improve the local water quality as well."

Yancey Powell, manager of education for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Jenny S. Workboat Education Program, actively educates students and their teachers on the environmental health of the Hampton Roads waterways.

"Maintaining the waterways is crucial to the survival of certain species here," Powell said. "Overfishing is definitely a problem, whether it be because of huge fisheries or individuals who frequently fish in the waterways illegally."

"Either way, they are altering and impacting the environment around them, which is why we then have to come in and make sure that they still have an underwater environment to come back to!"

Meanwhile, one shell at a time, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Virginia restaurants will continue to do their part to restore oyster reefs and create a more diverse aquatic ecosystem together.

Vice President Mike Pence visits Hampton University’s Proton Therapy Institute

By Ayanna Maxwell | Hampton Script Editor-In-Chief

Photo Credit: Glenn Knight

Vice President Mike Pence visited Hampton University's Proton Therapy Institute on Feb. 19 to engage with students, faculty and HUPTI treatment survivors.

According to a news release from HU's Office of University Relations, the visit was arranged with the intentions of "supporting the University's efforts in providing state-of-the-art cancer research and delivering cancer treatment to military veterans and their families."

With it being Black History Month, Pence's visit to such a prestigious historically black university was extremely timely. Vice President Pence has established a fervent relationship with Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey and even noted that President Harvey played a major role in the recently signed policy making federal funding for HBCUs permanent.

Photo Credit: Glenn Knight

"President Harvey has been a real champion of this administration, particularly for HBCUs," Pence said.

Vice President Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos participated in a roundtable discussion with various campus leaders: SGA President Jonathan Mack, SGA Vice President Bruce Wilson, Junior Class President Oshae Moore, Student Representative to the Board of Trustees Kenneth Rioland III, Hampton Script Editor-in-Chief Ayanna Maxwell and Miss Student Nursing Association Ebony Johnson. Among students and faculty, Vice President of Administrative Services Dr. Barbara Inman, Senior Vice President Attorney Paul Harris, and Chancellor and Provost Dr. JoAnn Haybsert were present.

"We think Hampton represents the best of HBCUs."

––Vice President Mike Pence

The vice president engaged in a meaningful discussion about the current administration's plans for supporting HBCUs and increasing White House internship and study abroad opportunities for HBCU students.

"[The current administration has] increased HBCU funding by 17% in real dollars...and restored Pell Grants to being year-round," Pence said. "The Department of Education also provided more than $500 million in loans for capital financing."

DeVos also mentioned a new addition to the recent budget proposal, in which there is "a STEM initiative for HBCUs located in opportunity zones."

In regards to expanding White House internship opportunities, Pence plans to continue connecting with HBCUs in order to increase participation in White House internship programs. The current administration also plans to ensure that all students have access to the resources necessary to pursue an education abroad. "We are working to make college more affordable for all students, no matter where they come from," Sec. DeVos said.

For more on this story, go to Hampton Script.

Bahamian student settles in at HU

By Sydney N. Shuler

Krishona Minis glided into the Hampton University cafeteria for Saturday brunch as if she'd been doing it for weeks. She had dressed in a mid-morning brunch outfit that is quite familiar on HU's campus: a sweater over a tank top, casual cotton shorts and hot pink Crocs on her feet.

She started to make her way to the dining room but stopped abruptly to look down at her iPhone. Five seconds later, I received a text:

Can you send me a picture? I forgot how you look.

I responded, Short. Bald. Blonde.

She looked up from the glowing screen and smiled while walking toward me.

"Good morning," she said in a soft, but distinguishable Bahamian accent.

She arrived from the University of the Bahamas-North on September 24 following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. Eighteen-year-old Minnis is a sophomore business management major from Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas, and a new student at Hampton University. Over a breakfast burrito and a plate of bacon, eggs and potatoes, we discussed her life's most recent drastic changes.

"I'm not nervous about anything, actually," she said. "I'm really excited about this opportunity. I feel like I belong here because everybody treats me like I'm from here."

It helps that Minnis arrived at Hampton with 46 Bahamian peers. She admits that she did not know all of them.

"I'm meeting new people, too," she said. "I'm getting to know them, which is pretty easy because we went to the same school together; I've probably seen them before and just didn't know their name."

As we talked, Minnis showed me photos of her home country before and after the storm.

"From the plane you could see tha the trees were dry because of the salt water. Usually from high up you can just see green [trees], but when I was on the plane it was brown and I could see the houses that were destroyed."

The Bahamas before and after Hurricane Dorian. Photos by Krishona Minnis.

"I never imagined that I'd be in a situation like this because we normally have hurricanes, but we never flood," she said. "Because of the surges, most of the island got flooded. My area didn't get flooded, but poles and trees still got knocked down, and a few houses had some damage, like broken windows."

She said that, as the hurricane started to pick up speed and force, her mother sent her to stay with a family member farther inland, where she lost contact with family and friends for days.

"It got crowded because my other family's house got flooded, so they had to come there, too," she said. "I didn't see my daddy until four days after... I couldn't check on him at all because the signal was down."

Krishona Minnis hopes that coming to HU will help her return to life before Dorian, where she played high school sports, cooked Caribbean food, traveled with family and friends and worked toward her goal of being an entrepreneur.

I'm hopeful for her, too.

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