The House Friday passed the CROWN Act, which would ban hair-related discrimination particularly based on race.
The measure passed 235-189, with 14 Republicans joining every Democrat in favor of the bill. It was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).
The legislation, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, is designed to address educational and employment discrimination against Blacks because of the way they wear their hair. Some hairstyles described in the measure include ones in which hair is “tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots and Afros.”
“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals, whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not, are discriminated against as children in school, as adults who are trying to get jobs, individuals who are trying to get housing, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally-funded programs,” Watson Coleman said on the House floor Friday.
“And why are they denied these opportunities? Because there are folks in this society who get to make those decisions who think because you’re hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots or it is not straight and blonde and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access to those issues,” she said. “Well, that’s discrimination.”
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The Biden administration offered its support of the bill earlier this week in a statement, saying it “looks forward to working with the Congress to enact this legislation and ensure that it is effectively implemented.”
“The President believes that no person should be denied the ability to obtain a job, succeed in school or the workplace, secure housing, or otherwise exercise their rights based on a hair texture or hair style,” the statement reads
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who first introduced the Senate version of the bill in 2019, said in a statement Friday that he “applauded” the House’s passage of the legislation that would “allow individuals, especially within the Black community, to wear their hair proudly without fear or prejudice.”
“Fairness and equality should not be partisan issues, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this important bill,” Booker said.
The Senate has yet to schedule a vote on the legislation.
The CROWN Act has already been passed in several states, the first of which was California in 2019, according to the National Law Review. More than a dozen states have passed similar laws since.
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, celebrated House passage by urging young Black children to be proud of their hair.
“It’s simple — discrimination against Black hair is discrimination based on race,” she said in a statement. “To every young Black girl and boy, I say to you, your hair — from your kinks to your curls, from your fros to your fades, from your locs to your braids — is a crown.”