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Hair Discrimination Is Getting Closer To Being Illegal In The U.S.

The CROWN Act, which is designed to protect people from discrimination on the basis of hair in the workplace and in schools, passed in the House of Representatives.

Yasmine Young, owner of Diaspora Salon, styles Mercedes Fernandes' hair in Baltimore, MD. Maryland is one of 7 states to sign the CROWN Act into law | Reuters
Yasmine Young, owner of Diaspora Salon, styles Mercedes Fernandes' hair in Baltimore, MD. Maryland is one of 7 states to sign the CROWN Act into law | Reuters

A bill that prohibits hair discrimination is moving through Congress, and many supporters and elected officials are hopeful it will soon protect race-based hair styles in places of work and schools nationwide.

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act — Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — a bill created in 2019 by the CROWN coalition in partnership with Dove. 

The campaign’s mission is to prevent discrimination against and protect hair textures and styles such as “braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.”

California State Senator Holly Mitchell (D) first introduced the Crown Act in January 2019, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed it into law. Since then, race-based air discrimination has been outlawed in six more states thanks to the CROWN Act. With the bill moving forward in Congress, there is new hope that it will become federal law as it advances to the Senate. 

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and actor Tracee Ellis Ross all applauded the decision. 

“A federal bill is exactly what is needed to address the racial injustice of hair discrimination on a national level,” said Marc Morial, founding member of CROWN Coalition and former New Orleans mayor. “With the passing of The CROWN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, we now must put pressure on the Senate to pass this legislation and expand anti-discrimination protections to include hair texture and hairstyles inherent to race.”

According to a 2019 Dove study, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from a workplace because of their hair, and 80% of respondents said they’ve had to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office. 

In recent years, national outlets have covered stories of Black employees or students being fired or sent home from work or school because of hair or hairstyle.

“Dove is proud to be a co-founder and champion of the CROWN Act, which not only helps create a more equitable beauty experience for all people, but helps address this unacceptable form of discrimination,” Dove executive Esi Eggleston Bracey said in a statement."