Following in the footsteps of Virginia, Colorado has become the next and fifth state to ban hair discrimination.
According to the Denver Post, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1048 into law Friday evening (March 6) at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, a Black studio and performing arts school.
Rep. Leslie Herod, a co-sponsor of her state’s bill, was thrilled to see it passed.
“I am just really overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of community support around the CROWN Act,” adding that natural hair should be celebrated, not punished.
“When someone chooses to celebrate their natural hair, we should join them in that celebration and not discriminate against them,” said Herod.
The Post noted that when advocating for the bill to pass in the state legislature, Herod and co-sponsors Rep. Janet Buckner and Sen. Rhonda Fields brought forward nearly a 100 people who had experienced this type of hair bias at work in schools throughout the state. In addition:
“Colorado’s Black Democratic Legislative Caucus held a hearing at the Capitol about the act, more than 100 people attended, many sharing stories of direct and subtle discrimination because of their natural or curly hair. They talked about embarrassment, intimidation and retribution” the newspaper wrote.
According to CBS4, at the signing, Gov. Polis said this is how states can end discrimination against communities of color.
“When we look at how we can end societal, legal discrimination against marginalized communities, especially communities of color, it’s important to know that discriminating against people’s hair has often been a stand-in for discriminating against their race. We’re proud to say that today that will no longer occur in the State of Colorado,” he stressed.
Rep. Buckner added that the moment was “historic” and shows the power of standing together and sharing our stories.
“It is truly a historic moment for the Crown Act to be signed into law by Governor Polis today,” she said, adding, “Our voices have been heard and our stories have had such a positive and powerful effect. Today we stand together to say that hair discrimination has no place in businesses, schools, or our society at large.”
Last week on Twitter, Herod posted a video from CBS News about their journey to getting this crucial legislation passed and signed into state law.
Just beautiful! This is why it’s important to have elected officials in office that look like us and will fight for us.
While Colorado now joins California, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, we hope more states will follow suit. As we previously reported, thanks to the Oscar-winning short Hair Love, the concept of passing a CROWN Act on a local, state and federal level has catapulted into a national conversation with states like Minnesota, Ohio and Washington State—inching towards making these bills become actual legislation.
During his Oscar speech, Hair Love director Matthew A. Cherry used his brief time to raise awareness around the need to pass a federal CROWN Act that would make it illegal for people to be fired or suspended from school because of how they choose to wear their natural hair.
“Hair Love was done so to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize Black hair. There’s a very important issue out there, it’s called the CROWN Act and we can help get this passed in all 50 states and help stories like Deandre Arnold, who’s our special guest tonight, to stop that [from happening.]”
According to CNN, “at least 22 states are considering the legislation, and local jurisdictions like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have passed it too.” We just need for these state bills to passed in their senates and sent over to their prospective governors to sign into law.
So it’s clear we have more work to do, but in the end, our hair shouldn’t be looked at as a distraction and it has nothing to do with learning in classrooms or productivity or appearances at the workplace. Most importantly, how we choose to wear our hair shouldn’t be used against Black folks to stop us from succeeding or living out our dreams.
Now next step: Let’s get a federal CROWN Act passed STAT!