Speaking to many women with natural hair in America, the way you wear your hair to work can be a source of anxiety and sometimes even trauma. There is pressure to wear ones’ hair straight, which is often deemed “presentable” in the work. Whether it’s navigating how to wear your hair for an interview or changing your hair into box braids for summer only not to be recognized by your co-workers, natural hair in the workplace is unnecessarily stressful. Well, now, California is helping you deal with that.
California lawmakers have passed The CROWN Act, a bill to protect Black employees and students by outlawing discrimination against people with natural hairstyles like afros, dreadlocks, braids, and twists. The bill states, “The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated ‘blackness’ and the associated physical traits, for example, dark skin, kinky and curly hair to a badge of inferiority.” The bill shines light (and protection) on the fact that European aesthetics have been the standard for beauty and have unfairly targeted Black workers and students more than any other group.
The CROWN Act stands for ‘Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair. While there were no “no” votes, Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles told NPR, “I have no idea why they abstained.” There were 10 politicians that chose not to vote on the bill including Frank Bigelow, Joe Cervantes, Steve Cooley, Duke Cunningham, James Gallagher, Tom Lackey, Monique Limon, Evan Low, Kevin McCarty and Melissa Melendez. While it wasn’t important to them, it was important to Mitchell, who told NPR, “The sheer volume of women and men and parents of students who have been sent home because someone deems their braids, twists, or locs were inappropriate for workplace settings, the sheer volume of people, suggests this clearly is a law whose time has come.”
Dove was criticized in 2017 for a body lotion ad featuring a Black woman who took off her shirt to become a white woman, has supported this bill. The brand has also been working diligently for more representation, partnering with Getty Images and more.
New York and New Jersey has proposed similar legislation. In February, NYC enacted its own policy protecting afros, braids, fades and other black hairstyles.
We hope more states take a look at the CROWN Act and start to enact their own legislation.