Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair

Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair
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Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE (D) officially unveiled federal legislation this week that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and hair styles.

The legislation, titled the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), has been enacted in multiple counties and states across the country, from Maryland to California and New York. It bans discrimination based on hair that is commonly associated with a specific race or national origin, according to a Thursday statement.

Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondCongress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Election security, ransomware dominate cyber concerns for 2020 Trump nominates DHS senior cyber director MORE (D-La.) introduced companion legislation in the House, joined by Reps. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe DCCC's 'blacklist' protects a white male political status quo Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Mass.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeOwning up to the failures of welfare reform US Virgin Islands delegate vies for impeachment manager position With holidays approaching, new SNAP rule hurts families and fails businesses MORE (D-Ohio), and Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeThis week: Senate barrels toward showdown on impeachment witnesses The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-Calif.).

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"Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people," Booker said in the Thursday statement. "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."

New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who is sponsoring legislation to make the term “race” in New Jersey discrimination laws inclusive of hair textures and styles, lauded Booker’s legislation. 

"As a New Jersey legislator and as a black woman who wears her hair natural, I'm proud to be a part of this movement to protect Americans from systemic discrimination based on racial traits such as hairstyles; and I welcome Senator Booker to the cause," she said in the statement this week. 

Black women are 50 percent more likely to be sent home from the workplace due to their hair, and 80 percent of black women feel they need to change their hair for their workplace, according to a study from Dove’s CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) initiative.

“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 the Thursday statement.

“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. Together, with this bill, we can ensure this form of discrimination no longer goes unchecked.”

In the statement Thursday announcing the legislation, Booker cited a viral incident last year in which a New Jersey referee forced a high school athlete to cut his dreadlocks on the spot or forfeit a wrestling match. The video sparked widespread outrage, and the referee was later barred from officiating any more matches.

He also referenced a Penn State football player who received a letter earlier this year calling his dreadlocks “disgusting,” as well as Gabrielle Union, who was reportedly fired from “America’s Got Talent” this past season and was repeatedly told that her hairstyles were “too black.”