Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is working in conjunction with several other congress members to ensure that hair discrimination is addressed not only on the local and state level, but on the federal level as well.
While there are federal protections to prohibit mistreatment based on race, creed, sexual orientation or religion, several courts have issued rulings which allow for an entryway for schools, institutions and workplaces to align themselves with discriminatory practices.
The bill titled, Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act or (CROWN Act) asserts “that 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, is a prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination.
Booker launched the bill as a joint effort between U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA) who introduced companion legislation in the House, and is joined by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” Booker said in a statement obtained by MadameNoire. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country. You need to look no further than Gabrielle Union, who was reportedly fired because her hair was ‘too black’ — a toxic dog-whistle African Americans have had to endure for far too long. No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage.”
“For far too long, Black Americans have faced senseless forms of discrimination merely because of how they choose to wear their hair. As states begin to tackle this issue, it is long overdue for Congress to act,” Rep. Richmond said.
Hair discrimination is still a hot topic issue, as several high-profile cases have made the news, where prohibiting Black men women and children were ostracized in the workplace, military and school over their hair.
Black women face the highest instances of racial discrimination according a recent study, which found that Black women are 50 percent more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. The study also uncovered that 80 percent of Black women felt they needed to switch their hairstyle in alignment with more conservative standards in order to fit in in the workplace.
“For too long, black women and girls have been told that their hair is too curly, too unprofessional, too distracting” Rep. Pressley said. “As a Congresswoman, I choose to wear my hair in twists because I want to intentionally create space for all of us to show up in the world as our authentic selves – whether it’s in the classroom, in the workplace or in the halls of Congress. I am proud to support the CROWN Act, which is a bold step towards ensuring that people can stand in their truth while removing the narrative that black people should show up as anything other than who they are.”
“Every day, Black women and men are forced to consider if their natural hair is “appropriate” or “professional” by Eurocentric standards,” Rep. Lee said. “With the introduction of the CROWN Act of 2019, we are making it clear that discrimination against Black women and men who wear their natural hairstyles is wrong and must be prohibited.”