Story at a glance

  • On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act aimed at banning discrimination based on hair texture or style.
  • Seven states have already signed the bill into law.

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.5309, a landmark bill aimed at banning discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or style that is associated with a specific race or ethnicity.

Dubbed the CROWN Act, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2019, the legislation would prevent employers from denying economic opportunities to individuals with diverse hair textures or race-specific hairstyles, including Afros, locs, twists, bantu knots, cornrows and braids. 

It also specifically bans discrimination based on hair texture or style against individuals participating in federal assistance programs, housing programs or other public accommodations and institutions.  


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The act has been passed in seven states, including California, New York, Washington, Colorado, Virginia and Maryland. It was introduced in Congress back in December 2019 by its sponsor, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.). 

 

 

Another version of the CROWN Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in January 2020, where it was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. While no action has been taken on the version introduced into the Senate, the House’s CROWN Act will head to the U.S. Senate for consideration. 

Legislation to ban discrimination based on hair texture and style gained traction following a study commissioned by Dove, a haircare product company. Looking at 1,000 Black women and 1,000 white women, Black women’s hair is 3.4 times as likely to be regarded as “unprofessional,” according to GovTrack. Black women are also 1.5 times more likely to be sent home or know of a Black woman being sent home due to their hair versus their white female counterparts. 

“For far too long, Black Americans have faced senseless forms of discrimination merely because of how they choose to wear their hair. As states begin to tackle this issue, it is long overdue for Congress to act,” Richmond said in a press release. “From Louisiana to New Jersey, textured hair should never serve as a professional or educational impediment nor should it ever lead to a reprimand of consequence.”

The House bill has attracted dozens of cosponsors, including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). 

 

 

Multiple companies and organizations have expressed public support for the passage of the CROWN Act on state and federal levels, including Dove, the ACLU branches of California and New Jersey, and the Equal Rights Advocates. 


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Published on Sep 23, 2020