After years of activists fighting against natural hair discrimination, on Friday March 18, the United States House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act. The act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is legislation that prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles, like braids, twists, locs, and knots. It was first introduced to Congress in January 2019, but this is the first step on a federal level needed to officially get the bill signed into law.
Previously, only 12 states had passed the CROWN Act, but stories about hair discrimination in the workplace remained throughout the country. For years, Black people – especially Black women – in the corporate sector have had to grapple with the implications of wearing their natural hair or protective styles to the office. Actors like Gabrielle Union shared how they have lost roles because of their hair, Black women in politics like Ayanna Pressely have discussed how much their hair impacted how they are perceived, and Black children have been suspended from school because of their natural hairstyles. Needless to say, this legislation is long overdue.
While the passing of the act is a step in the right direction, there is still much more to be done in order to truly advance in the fight against natural hair discrimination. The CROWN Research Study for Girls – the most recent study by Dove and the CROWN Coalition – found that 53 percent of Black mothers reported that their daughters have experienced race-based hair discrimination as early as 5 years old, and approximately 86 percent of Black teens who experience discrimination have endured it by the age of 12. There is clearly a need for this bill to be passed into law, and we will wait to see how the act fares in the Senate.