New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman reintroduced his bill to ban discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.
The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act makes discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles associated with people of African descent, including hair that is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros, a prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination.
Currently, eight states pass a law banning hair discrimination including New Jersey, which made discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race illegal in 2019. Booker and Watson-Coleman hope to pass a national law.
A study found that Black women are 50% more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair, and 80% of Black women feel the need to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office. The same study found that Black women’s hair is three times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.
“From schools, to the workplace, to mental health and self-esteem, to physical trauma, hair is a space where discrimination is having a disastrous fallout for Black communities,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman, a co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. “Black students are disciplined at a rate four times higher than any other racial or ethnic group.”
In December 2018, New Jersey student Andrew Johnson was forced to cut his dreadlocks to avoid forfeiting a wrestling match. A video of the incident went viral and sparked widespread outrage. Last October, Penn State football player Jonathan Sutherland received a racist letter deeming his dreadlocks “disgusting.”
“Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people,” said Booker. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large and continue the legacy of dehumanizing Black people. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day across the country.”