The House today passed a bill banning discrimination against Black hairstyles including twists, cornrows, Bantu knots, locs and afros. The law, called Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or CROWN Act passed after being considered a second time this year in the House.
"Natural Black hair is often deemed 'unprofessional’ simply because it does not conform to white beauty standards," Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. "Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people. I'm proud to have played a part to ensure that we end discrimination against people for how their hair grows out of their head."
The House today voted 235-189 to pass the legislation, which now heads to the Senate. The Biden administration came out in support of the law saying it "strongly supports" the CROWN Act and "looks forward to working with the Congress to enact this legislation and ensure that it is effectively implemented."
The origins of the bill stem from incidents like the one In 2019 when a high school wrestler in New Jersey was forced to have his locs cut by a white referee before a match or the athlete would forfeit. A number of states since then have passed similar legislation on their own.
"As a Black woman who loves my braids, I know what it's like to feel isolated because of how I wear my hair," Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said Friday on the House floor before the vote. "This is the last time we say no more to Black people being demeaned and discriminated against for the same hairstyles that corporations profit from. No more to Black people being made to feel like we have cut our locs just to get a job. This is the last time we say no more to Black people being made to feel like we have to straighten our hair to be deemed professional."
But the legislation was not without its opponents. Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan suggested the bill was a waste of time. "Fourteen months of chaos and we're doing a bill on hair. I hope we can actually focus on the things that matter to the American people," he said according to CNN.
When the bill came before the House for a vote last month, Colorado republican, Rep. Lauren Boebert, called the legislation, “The Bad Hair Bill.” Some criticized that language as being racist.
The bill now heads to the Senate where Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who co-sponsored the bill with Coleman will continue to back it.
Multiple states have already passed their own versions of the bill, including California, which passed it in 2019. Massachusetts is sending its own version to their state Senate after having passed it in their state House, CNN reported.
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