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Democrats, hair discrimination, Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman, CROWN Act

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The fight to end hair discrimination continues.

According to CNN, Democrats are pushing to have the CROWN Act enforced on a federal level to ban discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle or hair texture.

MORE: State Of The Union: Darryl George, Black Student Suspended Over Locs, Attends Biden’s Address

CROWN, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, protects individuals from discrimination over natural and protective hairstyles in the workplace, schools and other institutions. The legislation also ensures that people with unique hairstyles like locs, Bantu Knots, or afros, aren’t deprived of educational, housing, or employment opportunities due to their tresses.

New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman is fighting for the Senate to pass the legislation nationwide. She met with lawmakers to re-introduce the bill on April 30.

“Being an American is about accepting the wonderful diversity of this country and it is knowing that our society is richer, and culturally and spiritually and economically emboldened because of it,”  Watson Coleman said during a news conference about the legislation, according to CNN.

“Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people and we’re going to put a stop to it.”


Who supports the CROWN Act?

Up to now, the CROWN Act, also known as H.R. 8191, has garnered backing from 84 co-sponsors, including Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Yet, rallying support from Republicans has proven to be a challenging task. 

Previously, conservatives contended that discrimination based on hairstyles was already covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits bias on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and gender identity. However, Democratic officials argued that there were ambiguities within the federal legislation, resulting in a narrow interpretation of race that allowed discrimination against individuals sporting natural or protective hairstyles to persist.

“A major hurdle we’ll have is getting the GOP leadership to bring the bill up for a vote. What is encouraging is that for the first time we have bipartisan support in the Senate,” Watson Coleman noted to CNN.

“This bill has broad support because people know this is fundamentally about freedom. The freedom to be who you are. Democrats know this, Republicans know this. What we need is for GOP leadership to bring it up for a vote.”

In March 2022, Democrats, who controlled the majority of the house at the time, successfully advanced the CROWN Act for federal consideration with a sweeping 235 to 189 vote. Sadly, the legislation has since stalled in the Senate. 

Previously, the Biden administration voiced its firm backing for a federal CROWN Act, stating that it “strongly supports” the initiative.

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 hairstyle,” the Whitehouse said in a statement.

While awaiting federal implementation, the CROWN Act has seen progress with over 12 states passing their own versions of the legislation to safeguard citizens from hair discrimination. States such as New York, Michigan, California, and Maryland have successfully enacted the CROWN Act. See a full list of states that have enacted the CROWN Act here.


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