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On Mar. 18, The House passed the historic CROWN Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would ban hair discrimination.

 

What is the CROWN Act? 

The measure, which is also referred to as H.R. 2116, was passed with a sweeping 235 to 189 vote and will now head to the Senate for further consideration. CROWN, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, will protect individuals from discrimination over natural or protective hairstyles in the workplace, schools, and other institutions. New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Waston Coleman spearheaded the historic move on Friday.

Why is the CROWN Act Necessary?

The legislation states that people across the diaspora living in America are routinely “deprived of educational and employment opportunities” for wearing their natural tresses in protective styles like locks, cornrows, afros, and kinky twists. If the CROWN Act is passed, it would be put an end to race-based hair discrimination.

“This bill is vitally important,” Watson Coleman said during her speech on the house floor, NBC News reported. “It’s important to the young girls and the young boys who have to cut their hair in the middle of a wrestling match in front of everyone because some white referee says that your hair is inappropriate to engage in your match,” the lawmaker continued, making reference to the case of Andrew Johnson, a Black 16-year-old high school wrestler from New Jersey who was forced to cut off his dreadlocks in order to compete in his school’s wrestling competition.

“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals — whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not — who are discriminated against as children in school, as adults who are trying to get jobs, individuals who are trying to get housing, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally funded programs,” Watson Coleman explained.

The former New Jersey Assemblywoman argued that there were people in authoritative roles “who think because your hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots or it is not straight and blonde and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access to those issues.” She added, “there’s no logical reason that anyone should be discriminated against on any level because of the texture of their hair or the style of their hair.”

 

Some Republicans opposed the bill

While the vote for the CROWN Act appeared to be unanimous on Friday, some Republicans voted against the bill citing inflation and the recent surge in gas prices as a high priority.

“Fourteen months of chaos and we’re doing a bill on hair,” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio reportedly said during the meeting, CNN noted. “I hope we can actually focus on the things that matter to the American people.”  Others argued that hair-related discrimination was already protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and gender identity. However, Democrat officials claimed that there were gray areas within the federal legislation that narrowly interpreted the meaning of race, thus allowing discrimination against people who wear natural or protective hairstyles to exist.

 

The Crown Act has already been signed into law in a few states

 

As MADAMENOIRE previously reported, in 2020 Dove and the CROWN Coalition helped to pass The CROWN Act with help from Senator Holly J. Mitchell from California. The bill was officially signed into law and is currently practiced in 8 states including CA, CO, MD, NY, NJ, VA, WA, CT but the fight for nationwide inclusion of the bill still continues.

 

 

RELATED CONTENT: ICYMI: Illinois Senator Mattie Hunter’s CROWN Act Passes In The Senate

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