Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced the first federal bill against natural hair discrimination Thursday. His move supports the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair (CROWN) Act.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MD.), Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
This bill bans discrimination based on hair textures and styles typically associated with a particular race or national origin. Historically, Black people’s hair has been the target of discrimination, with workplaces telling Black employees that braids, Afros and locs are unprofessional, hair salons charging more to style thick Black hair, and women facing microaggressions by those telling them to chemically straighten their hair.
Booker released a statement about the CROWN Act, saying the proposition to implement it on a federal level is a civil rights issue.
“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” Booker said in a statement. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country.”
The Act was first signed into law on the state level, first in California, followed by New York. New Jersey is considering officially outlawing natural hair discrimination, and 12 other states have either pre-filed, filed or formally stated an intent to introduce their own anti-hair discrimination bills, according to the CROWN Act’s website. Cincinnati, Ohio and Montgomery County, Maryland have also implemented it locally.
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New Jersey Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is sponsoring Bill A-5564, which will amend the definition of “race” to include natural and protective hairstyles. In a statement, she touted Booker’s push to make the CROWN Act federal law, saying it strengthens the push in New Jersey.
“I applaud Senator Booker for amplifying our charge in New Jersey to advocate for those nationally who have been forced to change their hair in order to appeal to Euro-centric standards as a condition to pursue economic advancement,” McKnight said.