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House passes the CROWN Act outlawing haircut discrimination

The House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation codifying measures deemed to discriminate against black people who have certain hair styles or textures — such as afros or cornrows — as federal civil rights violations.

Fourteen Republicans joined all 221 Democrats in supporting the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, sending it to an uncertain fate in the Senate. President Biden has expressed support for the measure.

“There are people in this society who think because your hair is tangled, braided, knotted or straightened, blonde and light brown, that you somehow don’t deserve access,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), the main sponsor of the bill, said during debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. “Well, that’s discrimination.”

The measure alleges that racial discrimination can and does occur because of “longstanding racial and national origin prejudices and stereotypes surrounding hair texture and style.”

“For example, people of African descent are routinely denied educational and employment opportunities because they are adorned with natural or protective hairstyles in which the hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, or worn in locs, cornrows, twists, braids. Bantu knot or Afros,” says the legislation.

Shelly Smith braids Bridget Dunmore's hair at her Braid Heaven salon.
The bill would make discrimination against people with hairstyles such as afros, cornrows or braids a federal civil rights violation.
Charlie Riedel/AP
The Chamber of the House of Representatives
Fourteen GOP members joined Democrats on the bill.
Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

Coleman cited the New Jersey case High school wrestler Andrew Johnsonwho was forced to cut his dreadlocks or forgo his match in 2018.

“This bill is critical,” she said. “It’s important for the young girls and boys who have to cut their hair in the middle of a wrestling match in front of everyone because a white referee says your hair is inappropriate for your match.”

Most Republicans called the legislation unnecessary, with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) saying, “That’s what the Democrats are focusing on.” Fourteen months of chaos and we’re doing a hair bill.”

A colored woman has her hair braided.
Rep. Coleman said people without straight blonde or light brown hair were denied certain access to the workforce.
Charlie Riedel/AP

Democrats argued that the bill was necessary because federal judges have dismissed civil rights lawsuits on the basis that the current civil rights law does not directly cover discrimination based on hair. Multiple states have already adopted similar measures aims to ban racial discrimination based on hair in employment, housing, education and the military.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), the main Senate sponsor of the bill, announced its passage in the House of Representatives and said in a statement that the measure will allow all people “to wear their hair proudly without fear or prejudice.”

“No one should be harassed, penalized or fired for their natural hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage,” he added.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/18/house-passes-crown-act-banning-discrimination-based-on-hair-style/ House passes the CROWN Act outlawing haircut discrimination

JACLYN DIAZ

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