House Passes CROWN Act Banning Discrimination Against Black Hairstyles

On Friday, the US House passed legislation that would ban race-based hair discrimination in employment and against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, and public accommodations.

The Democratic-led House voted 235-189 to pass the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The bill seeks to protect against bias based on hair texture and protective styles, including locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) first introduced the Senate version of the bill in 2019. 

Booker celebrated the bipartisan vote stating, “I applaud House Republicans and Democrats joining together today and passing legislation that will allow individual, especially within the Black community, to wear their hair proudly with no fear of prejudice.”

California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019. Shortly thereafter, by 2021, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Connecticut, New Mexico, Delaware, and Nebraska followed suit. States like Virginia, Washington, Maryland, and Illinois passed amended versions of discrimination laws in. 

This is the second time this year the House considered the legislation. The bill failed to pass the House in February when Democrats sought to fast track it.

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The much-needed bill comes after a decade of celebration of natural Black hair textures in the ’10s. This second wave of praising kinky, coily, curly tresses and unsubscribing to Eurocentric standards of beauty picks up where the Black Is Beautiful/Black Power Movement of the ’60s and ’70s left off. This revitalized pride has brought forth cultural institutions like Curlfest and Durag Fest and has completely changed the Black haircare industry, forcing companies to prioritize products catered towards different texture hair.

Of course, with the rise of Black American’s pride in their natural hair has been met with pushback. In recent years there have been endless reports of Black people facing discrimination for their hair, ranging from suspension in schools; denied job opportunities; and forced impromptu haircuts for sport competitions. The discriminatory nature behind the pushback echoed on the House floor.   

Only fourteen Republicans voted for the bill. This comes to no surprise as the Biden administration has failed to pass equal rights voting laws, and not to mention lynching only became a federal hate crime just a few weeks prior.

Before the House vote was taken, several Black legislators spoke of their own experiences with hair discrimination.

Last Congress, the House passed the CROWN Act, but the bill stalled in the Republican-led Senate. Now, Democrats have a 50-50 majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

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