Hold your crown high!
Year after year, BOSSIP reports racist incidents of athletes forced to cut their hair to compete, children punished in school, and Black employees harassed in the workplace or fired just for rocking their natural hair. Now the CROWN Act. NBC News reports on Friday the House passed H.R. 2116, popularly known as the CROWN Act to ban “discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair” by a vote of 235-189.
“CROWN” stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, protects “hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.” Watson Coleman and other Black U.S. Congresswomen spoke about the bill’s importance before the vote.
“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals — whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not — who are discriminated against as children in school, as adults who are trying to get jobs, individuals who are trying to get housing, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally funded programs,” Watson Coleman said on the House floor.
“I understand that my colleagues on the Republican side don’t get the vast array of discriminatory practices, because they spend so much time trying to perpetuate an all-white society here in the most diverse country in the world,” she continued.
There are as many ways to define Black hair as there are to style it. No one exemplifies that like Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who was known for her signature twists before she made headlines about her journey with alopecia.
“For too long, Black girls have been discriminated against and criminalized for the hair that grows on our heads and the way we move through and show up in this world. Black girls, with our braids, locs, afros, all forms of natural hairstyles, and yes, even our smooth Alopecian bald heads, belong everywhere,,” Pressley said on Friday.
“Whether you are a student in a classroom, an employee in the workplace, or the next Supreme Court Justice…you deserve to show up as your full self, rocking your crown with your head held high.”
Pressley’s state became next in line to pass the Crown Act at the state level on Thursday after the Massachusetts House passed the bill with a unanimous vote on Thursday. California was the first to sign it into law in 2019 shortly after it was created by four Black women, Esi Eggleston Bracey, Kelli Richardson Lawson, Orlena Nwokah Blanchard, Adjoa B. Asamoah. Even the U.S. Military updated its policies to remove regulations against natural hairstyles in 2021.
Fourteen Republicans voted for the Crown Act in the House, where the bill was previously blocked by the GOP on the last day of Black History Month this year. Even with this recent victory, 189 Republicans still voted in favor of continued discrimination. President Biden already committed to signing the bill into law, but the CROWN Act still has another obstacle before it reaches his desk: The U.S. Senate, where Sen. Cory Booker sponsored the legislation.