Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard a bunch of stories about Black people being discriminated against because of their natural hair. Schools have refused kids from competing in sports events, attending classes, and much more. In the same token, public figures have decided to take a stand and show off their natural tresses. News anchors, celebrities, and athletes have used their platforms to normalize seeing braids, loccs, afros, and twist-outs on screen.
The stories of adults and children facing discrimination because of their natural hair birthed the CROWN Act. The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture. First introduced in California in January 2019 by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (District 30) as Senate Bill 188, The CROWN Act expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code, to ensure protection against race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and in K-12 public and charter schools. The inaugural CROWN Act was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in California on July 3, 2019 and went into effect January 1, 2020.
Following California was New York and then New Jersey. As of June 28, 2020, 7 states, including Virginia, Colorado, Washington and Maryland have passed the CROWN Act to provide legal protections against race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and schools. In addition, 9 states are considering the CROWN Act or plan on introducing their own anti-hair discrimination bills, including Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
This is ground-breaking work. It’s shocking that in 2020 this bill has to exist, but with the efforts of the CROWN Coalition, the generations after us will be protected from hair discrimination. The CROWN Coalition is a national alliance founded by Dove, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Povertyand Color Of Change. They’re declaring July 3, 2020 as National CROWN Day; the 1-year anniversary of the signing of The CROWN Act in California. Via the press release, “National CROWN Day will be a day of solidarity for the human rights of Black men, women and children to wear their natural hair boldly and proudly, without the fear of being discriminated against in school or the workplace. The one-day celebration will feature a full day of virtual conversations and people are encouraged to #PassTheCrown and sign the petition to end hair-based discrimination at thecrownact.com.”
During a time where the celebration of Blackness is at an all-time high, National CROWN Day is the perfect way to show off your natural hair with pride.
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