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House Of Representatives passes The Crown Act

Landmark federal bill protects against hair discrimination in workplaces and schools

OW Staff Writer | 10/1/2020, midnight

The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance founded by Dove, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty and Color Of Change, along with over 70 CROWN Act supporting organizations, commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the CROWN Act of 2020, making the federal bill one step closer to being made into law.

Led by Rep.Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and introduced only nine months ago, The CROWN Act legislation (H.R. 5309) provides legal protection from hair discrimination based on the texture of natural hair or hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists and knots.

The acronym CROWN stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.

"It was an honor to author this groundbreaking legislation with my colleagues Congresswomen Lee (CA-13), Fudge (OH-11), and Pressley (MA-07)," stated Richmond. "Their partnership, along with Adjoa B. Asamoah of the Crown Coalition and key legal stakeholders was integral in making this historic moment possible."

"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,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and COO of beauty and personal care at Unilever North America. “We applaud Congressman Cedric Richmond and the U.S. House of Representatives for taking this action. We will continue to work with The CROWN Coalition to ensure protection of Black women, children, and men from hair discrimination, a form of racial discrimination."

"A federal bill is exactly what is needed to address the racial injustice of hair discrimination on a national level," said Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans and CEO of the National Urban League, a founding member of the CROWN Coalition. "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."

The inaugural CROWN Act was signed into law by Governor Newsom in California on July 3, 2019, and went into effect January 1, 2020. The law has been passed in 7 states (CA, NY, NJ, VA, CO, WA, MD) and 2 municipalities (Cincinnati, OH and Montgomery County, MD). Twenty-four (24) additional states haven introduced the legislation. With the passing of The CROWN Act in the House of Representatives, the federal bill now advances to the U.S. Senate.

The CROWN Act of 2020 is not the first time federal lawmakers have taken action against grooming policies that have a disparate impact on people of color. In 2014, the Congressional Black Caucus, led by then Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge, appealed to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to reconsider U.S. Military rules for hairstyles that lacked cultural sensitivity and gave little regard to what it takes for women of color to maintain their natural hair. As a result, military grooming standards were reviewed and adjusted to ensure fair and respectful consideration of a diverse military force.

"As reports of racial discrimination at work and in schools are increasing, it is essential that lawmakers recognize where more protections against it can, and should be, strengthened," said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. "We are so grateful to Congressman Richmond and the Congressional Black Caucus for their leadership on this issue and are eager to continue the work with other CROWN Act coalition members and allies until all workers and all pupils in our country are free from racial discrimination based on the texture or style of their hair. Passing this Act is an essential step to reducing school pushout of Black children and improving job opportunities for Black workers."

For more information, visit www.TheCROWNAct.com.