In 2018, a high school wrestler chooses between having his dreadlocks cut or forfeiting his match. TV reporter Treasure Roberts was told by a news director that she wouldn’t get hired with braids. A bill in the Senate called the CROWN Act aims to stop this type of discrimination.
The CROWN Act stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The law prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyle.
Supporters celebrated National CROWN Day on July 3rd. That’s the day that California signed the first CROWN Act legislation into law in 2019.
At the present time ,only seventeen states have hair discrimination laws so far. California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, Maine, Tennessee, and Louisiana have state level CROWN Acts or similar laws.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in September of 2020. In addition, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar tweeted “For far too long, Black women have been penalized for simply existing as themselves—that ends today. The House just passed the CROWN Act to end hair discrimination.”
However, the Act then died in the Senate. The House passed the bill again earlier this year. Specifically, this law bans discrimination against hairstyles including “tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.”
Private Sector Support for the CROWN Act
Celebrities and private businesses are pushing for change too. Dove co-founded the CROWN Coalition in 2019 along with The National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty. They conducted a research study and found that “a Black woman is 80% more likely to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.”
However, these unfair standards don’t wait until women are old enough to enter the workforce. The same study found that “hair discrimination against Black natural hair can start as early as five.”
Most importantly, supporters are using the #PasstheCROWNAct hashtag and are also signing this petition. In addition, Matthew A. Cherry, director of ‘Hair Love,’ has been an outspoken advocate for this law. He mentioned the CROWN Act in his Academy Awards speech in 2020. More recently, he made this post to celebrate the third annual CROWN Day.
Meanwhile, Tabitha Brown also spoke up about the importance of this law at The 2022 Essence Festival. She told a story about her experience wearing her hair loose in ponytails to school as a child.
Altogether, the CROWN Act of 2022 is in the Senate awaiting a vote.The full bill can be found here.