Thursday, August 5

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First Anniversary of CROWN Act – Protection of Natural Hair

The CROWN Coalition declared July 3rd as ‘National Crown Day’, marking its first-ever anniversary since the Act was passed in California, USA in 2019. The day is celebrated to extend solidarity to black men, women, and children in their rights to wear their natural hair without facing discrimination in workplaces or schools, and to expand the legislation to other states in America. The Coalition hosted several virtual events on their social media ‘that will support their effort to end hair discrimination’ to commemorate the anniversary.

The CROWN Act (which stands for – Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) prohibits racial discrimination against students and employees over their natural hair, including hair texture and protective hairstyles – braids, afros, locks, twists or Bantu knots. The CROWN Coalition is a national alliance founded by Dove, National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center of Law & Poverty.

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The preamble to the CROWN Act observes that “[t]he history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated ‘blackness’ and the associated physical traits . . . to a badge of inferiority, sometimes subject to separate and unequal treatment.”

Last year, the Coalition sponsored legislation was put forward in the state of California by Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell. Governor Gavin Newsom was the first to sign the CROWN Act into law. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, and Washington have also joined in to pass the Bill after California.

“For centuries black men and women didn’t often challenge these standards,” said Sen. Mitchell while introducing the bill. “It is 2019. Any law that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a position, not because of my capabilities or experience but because of my hair, is long overdue for reform,” she added.

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According to research conducted by Dove, a black woman is 80% likely to change her natural hair to conform to social norms or expectations at work. They are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home or know of a black woman sent home from the workplace because of their hair. They report receiving formal grooming policies much higher than white women. Black employees and applicants have been denied a promotion or terminated after failing to abide by the Euro-centric hairstyles to maintain a ‘professional image’. The Law cites the elimination of disparity in workplaces and schools that considers the natural trait of African Americans to be unprofessional or unkempt.

In 2018, a High School wrestler in New Jersey was forced to cut his dreadlocks by the referee minutes before the match or have his game forfeited. A student was kicked out of class because the teacher stated “lines shaved into his hair were a distraction to other students.” A woman was denied a job offer in an Alabama call center solely because of her dreadlocks. This racial prejudice of natural hair against black people is illegal now under the CROWN Act.

Employers and educational institutions should ensure the enforcement of neutral grooming policies and dress code, and prohibit discrimination against natural hairstyles like braids, dreadlocks, and twists. They are also encouraged to train their employees to be compliant with the new law, especially managers or supervisors.

 

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Canva

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A Mass Media graduate with a freelance background in Content Writing and Photography. Currently working as a Writer at The Ticket Fairy. (She/Her)

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