By: Cedric ‘BIG CED’ Thornton
Presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker has announced the first federal bill that bans natural hair discrimination.
The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act makes clear that discrimination based on natural hairstyles associated with people of African descent is a prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination. This includes hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.
“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” Senator Booker said in a press release. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country.
You need to look no further than Gabrielle Union, who was reportedly fired because her hair was ‘too black’ — a toxic dog-whistle African Americans have had to endure for far too long. No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage.
Our work on this important issue was enhanced by the tireless advocacy of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, Crown Coalition advocate Adjoa B. Asamoah, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”
U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives and is joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“For too long, black women and girls have been told that their hair is too curly, too unprofessional, too distracting,” Rep. Pressley said. “As a Congresswoman, I choose to wear my hair in twists because I want to intentionally create space for all of us to show up in the world as our authentic selves – whether it’s in the classroom, in the workplace or in the halls of Congress. I am proud to support the CROWN Act, which is a bold step towards ensuring that people can stand in their truth while removing the narrative that black people should show up as anything other than who they are.”
“It is disheartening that, in 2019, hair discrimination creates additional barriers for people of color in education and places of employment,” Rep. Fudge said. “Traditional hairstyles worn by African Americans are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and are a representation of our culture and ethnicity. To require anyone to change their natural appearance to acquire educational resources or a job is undeniably an infringement on their civil rights.
I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the House companion of the C.R.O.W.N. Act which protects against discrimination based on hair in federally funded institutions and in the workplace.”
This year, California and New York passed laws banning hair discrimination, and at least six more states, including New Jersey, are considering similar laws.