Congress Just Passed a Bill to Ban Race-Based Hair Discrimination
In what feels like an increasingly rare win for progressive values in the U.S., the House of Representatives voted 235-189 on Friday to pass the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, a bill that seeks to ban race-based hair discrimination in employment and against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, and public accommodations.
The CROWN Act, which would render racially motivated bias against hairstyles including locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros illegal, failed to pass the House last month; now, though, it is headed to the Senate, where it has been sponsored by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker. The Biden administration released a statement last week expressing support for the CROWN Act, saying, in part, “The President believes that no person should be denied the ability to obtain a job, succeed in school or the workplace, secure housing, or otherwise exercise their rights based on a hair texture or hair style.”
“This is the last time we say ‘no more’ to Black people being demeaned and discriminated against for the same hairstyles that corporations profit from,” said Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush on the House floor before the vote. “No more to Black people being made to feel like we have cut our locs just to get a job. This is the last time we say no more to Black people being made to feel like we have to straighten our hair to be deemed professional.”
California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019, with Los Angeles Democrat Sen. Holly Mitchell stating at the time that the bill “protects the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms.”
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