CROWN Act: California set to become first state in the country to end racial discrimination based on natural hairstyles
California is set to become the first state to ban discrimination against black people's natural hairstyles, which includes afros, braids, twists and dreadlocks
On Thursday, California's state legislature passed a bill that would protect students and employees from discrimination based on natural hairstyles making the state to become the first in the country to end race-based discrimination based on a hairstyle. Dubbed the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), the bill was passed by California's Assembly on Thursday with a vote of 69-0. Earlier, the bill was passed by California's state Senate in April and now awaits the final signatures from Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
Coming into motion, the new law will prohibit employers from firing or punishing employees for wearing "protective styles". The natural styles include " braids, locks and twists".
"Hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for black individuals. Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter black applicants and burden or punish black employees than any other group," the bill states.
In February, New York City had issued a new policy with similar intent, where the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued the new legal guidance for employers and public spaces such as library, gyms, schools and nightclubs. The new guidelines also noted that hair restrictions, whether in the workplace, at schools, museums or night clubs, have most often taken a heavy toll on black people who are "forced to choose between their livelihood or education and their cultural identity and hair health".
"Policies that limit the ability to wear natural hair or hairstyles associated with black people aren't about 'neatness' or 'professionalism'; they are about limiting the way black people move through workplaces, public spaces and other settings," NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis said in a statement at the time. "My hope is that entities throughout the country re-examine their policies and really ask themselves what this is based on," she added.