The Crown Act Banning Discrimination Against Natural Hair Was Passed by the House

Some much welcome good news: The House of Representatives has passed the CROWN Act, a bill that ensures hair traits historically associated with ethnicity are protected at work and in schools.

The House Judiciary announced the decision via Twitter on Friday, writing, “BREAKING: @HouseDemocrats have PASSED the #CROWNAct, a critically important civil rights bill that would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair texture or hairstyles commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.”

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Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who recently spoke to ELLE.com about being diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata for our State of Black Beauty franchise, also weighed in on social media: “Black is beautiful and so is our hair. For anyone who has ever faced hair discrimination or punishment for showing up exactly as you are, the #CROWNAct is for you. TY to my sisters-in-service & the movement for making the House passage of the CROWN Act possible.”

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Race-based hair discrimination garnered national attention when the CROWN—Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair—Coalition first set out to ban intolerance based on style, type, and texture in 2019. Co-founded by Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the movement works to create a “more equitable and inclusive beauty experience for Black women and girls.”

The CROWN Act was first introduced in January 2019 by California State Senator Holly Mitchell. It is the first bill in American history to outlaw hair discrimination. The act is now one step closer to becoming law and will go to the Senate next for consideration.

According to The Hill, President Joe Biden has indicated that he plans to sign the Crown Act into law if it reaches his desk. “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 hair style,” the White House said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

This type of legislation is long overdue. In August 2018, 11-year-old Faith Fennidy left her Louisiana classroom in tears after school officials said her braids violated school policy. Five months later, high school wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced to shave his dreadlocks in public before competing in the 120-pound weight class. That same year in Alabama, Chastity Jones claimed she lost a job offer after refusing to cut her dreadlocks.

These stories, Sen. Mitchell told Essence, “were the wind that gave us the opportunity to help challenge public perception, to help us push back on employer perception, to change the law.”

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The CROWN Act was recognized at the 2020 Academy Awards during Matthew A. Cherry’s acceptance speech for Hair Love, which picked up an Oscar for best animated short. The film follows a Black father as he learns how to style his daughter’s hair. Cherry’s guest that evening was DeAndre Arnold, a high school senior from Texas who was told to cut his dreadlocks—or he couldn’t walk the graduation stage.

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Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation,” Cherry said during his acceptance speech. “We wanted to normalize Black hair. There’s a very important issue that’s out there, the CROWN Act.”

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