Aigné Goldsby’s mom was a hairdresser. So as a kid, Goldsby would flex a variety of hairstyles. But at her majority white school, kids would do things like pull on her weave, Goldsby recalled.
When Goldsby grew up and became a lawyer, she didn’t feel at ease bringing her full self to work.
“As a Black woman it’s been difficult for me, and it’s certainly been a process for me to feel comfortable in predominantly white spaces,” she told NEXT.
The American Bar Association says only 5% of lawyers in the U.S. are Black, and Goldsby noted that there are even fewer Black women in the profession. She coaches BIPOC prelaw and law students through her company Black Esquire and is a staff attorney at the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
“When I show up to work and when I go to court,” Goldsby said, “most of the people around do not look like me.”
This is where her hair comes in again. Earlier in her legal career, Goldsby said she felt an unspoken expectation to straighten her curls. But then about three years ago, she decided to wear her natural hair to work.
“I kind of got myself to the point where I just say to myself, ‘You know what, I don’t really care what you think. I’m going to be me 100 percent of the time,’” said Goldsby.
Last month, Connecticut passed the CROWN Act, which bans race-based discrimination against hair or protective styles.
“I was so excited,” Goldsby said. “I’m really proud of my state.”
Connecticut is the first New England state to pass the CROWN Act.
This interview was featured in the most recent episode of NEXT from the New England News Collaborative. Listen to the entire episode here.