When people of color wear their hair in its natural state, they are often met with curiosity, outright racism and exclusion. Black people, especially black women, are heavily scrutinized and labeled “unkept” and “unprofessional” when they opt for dreadlocks, cornrows or braids. Until recently, there weren’t legal protections in place for people unwilling to subscribe to Eurocentric beauty ideals.
US Senator, and 2020 presidential candidate, Cory Booker is trying to end hair-based discrimination at the federal level with a bill called Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or the CROWN Act.
Why Do We Need the CROWN Act?
Hair discrimination is common in many different environments — schools, the workplace and even the entertainment world. Who can forget In 2018, when high schooler Andrew Johnson was famously forced to cut off his dreadlocks before competing in a school wrestling competition? And just a few weeks ago, Gabrielle Union reportedly lost her job as a judge on America’s Got Talent for speaking up about her hair being labeled “too black.”
The CROWN Act will put an end to discrimination against people who wear natural hairstyles. It will provide legal security “by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and [in] state Education Codes.”
The History of the Bill
The CROWN Act was first introduced and then signed into law in California earlier this year. It will go into effect in January 2020. On the heels of the bill’s success in California, New York quickly followed suit and approved its own bill. The city of Cincinnati, Ohio and Montgomery County, Maryland have also passed the CROWN Act.
An additional 12 states are currently considering signing it into law.
Earlier this month, Senator Booker introduced the CROWN Act to congress. It is now up to congress to decide whether or not to sign the CROWN Act into law.
Click here to sign the petition to encourage your local legislators to end hair discrimination across the nation.