California Is The First State To Take A Stand Against Natural Hair Discrimination
Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, proposed the “CROWN Act”, which was established to protect black employees and students from being punished for their natural hairstyles such as cornrows, dreadlocks, braids or afros.
If the bill were to be passed, hairstyles would be used to further provide a definition under “race” for the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which currently prohibits discriminatory hiring or housing practices based on specified personal characteristics.
“Existing law defines terms such as race, religious beliefs, and sex, among others, for purposes of the act. This bill would provide that the definition of race for these purposes also include traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, and would define protective hairstyles for purposes of these provisions.”
The bill would protect people in workplaces and K-12 schools from being forced to alter their appearance to adopt “Eurocentric norms” in order to comply with a “societal understanding of professionalism.”
“Despite the great strides American society and laws have made to reverse the racist ideology that Black traits are inferior, hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for Black individuals.”
The bill passed the state Senate in April and was approved by the Assembly on June 27. It awaits a signature by Gov. Gavin Newsom.