House

GOP blocks House bill to ban race-based hair discrimination OK

The House fell short of passing legislation on Monday that would prohibit discrimination against people with hair styles associated with a particular race or national origin.

Democrats set a vote on the bill, titled the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN, Act under a fast-track process used for noncontroversial bills that required a two-thirds supermajority for passage. While the bill clinched a simple majority, 235-188, it did not meet the two-thirds threshold due to GOP opposition.

It’s possible that House Democrats will bring up the bill for a vote again later, but under a process where they only need a simple majority to send it to the Senate.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), the bill’s author, argued it’s essential to formally ban hair discrimination because African Americans are often penalized under workplace and school dress code policies for having natural hairstyles such as afros, braids and cornrows.

“Far too often, Black people, especially Black women and girls, are derided or deemed unprofessional simply because their hair does not conform to white beauty standards,” Watson Coleman said on the House floor.

“Our natural hair is as innate a quality of Black people as the presence of melanin in our skin. Discriminating against our hair is no different is no different than discriminating against the color of our skin,” she said.

A 2019 study conducted by the JOY Collective found that Black women were 80 percent more likely to feel that they had to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.

The vote on the bill came moments after the House passed legislation to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

Democrats deliberately timed the votes on both bills for Monday, the last day of Black History Month.

Republicans questioned the need for new legislation formally banning race-based hair discrimination, arguing that it’s already prohibited under current law.

“Democrats are prioritizing this legislation, a bill to prohibit conduct already unlawful under our law, for political messaging reasons. This bill does not address any of the serious problems our country currently faces,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) was more derisive.

As she cast a proxy vote on behalf of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) against the legislation, Boebert panned the legislation as “the bad hair bill.”

Tags African-American hair Afro-textured hair Bonnie Watson Coleman discrimination based on hair Discrimination based on hair texture Hairdressing Hairstyles Jim Jordan Lauren Boebert Louie Gohmert natural hair
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