The fight against race-based hair discrimination just suffered a major setback.
On December 14th, Senate Republicans voted against the passage of the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, blocking legislation that would make it a federal crime to discriminate against someone based on their hair texture or hairstyle. With this blockage by the Republicans, this is now the second that the CROWN Act has failed to pass through the Senate since it was first introduced to Congress in December 2019.
For those of you who have been following the bill’s journey, you might be aware that it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. The CROWN Act was first introduced to the House of Representatives in December 2019 by Representative Cedric Richmond, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Marcia Fudge, and Rep. Barbara Lee. While it was initially passed by the House in September 2020, it was later blocked in a Republican-controlled Senate. Fortunately, the CROWN Act was reintroduced to the House in March 2021 and passed for a second time in March 2022. However, last week, it was once again blocked by Senate Republicans via the use of a filibuster and prevented from making its way to President Biden’s desk, where it could have been finally signed into law.
Rep. Watson Coleman, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, issued a statement, sharing her frustrations about the bill’s failure to pass in the Senate.
“The Senate continues to stand in the way of progres for our country. Republicans’ obstruction of the CROWN Act is part of a long tradition of weaponizing the filibuster to block civil rights legislation,” she said.
Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked the passage of my #CROWNAct — a bill that should never have been controversial in the first place.— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) December 15, 2022
This is merely a setback. It is not a defeat. I will never stop fighting for the right of ALL Americans to exist as their authentic selves. pic.twitter.com/whLhz9pZ8T
Rep. Pressley, also spoke out via a statement, sharing, “That Republicans would block passage of the CROWN Act in the Senate is unconscionable, but unsurprising given the blatant disregard for civil rights and contempt for Black, brown, and marginalized communities. Black hair is beautiful, and no amount of racism or ignorance from the other side of the aisle will stop the power of our movement. I won’t stop pressing to ban race-based hair discrimination and I urge the Senate to use any legislative avenue to pass this critical bill and send it to President Biden’s desk.”
But, all hope for natural hair no longer being an issue in the workplace or educational settings is not lost. Rep. Coleman has expressed that she will continue working towards the CROWN Act becoming a law. “Our fight is far from over,” she said. “Today I’m disappointed, but not defeated. I remain steadfast in my commitment to protecting all Americans’ right to exist as their authentic selves.”
Here’s How You Can Help
If you want to take action and support the passing of the CROWN Act, there are a few things you can do. First, sign the petition to end hair discrimination in the workplace and school’s here. Second, email your state legislators and urge them to introduce the CROWN Act in the 2023 legislative session, using this email template.