California Becomes First State To Ban Discrimination Against Natural Hair With C.R.O.W.N. Act
A Google search for "unprofessional hairstyles" only shows Black women with natural hair, braids or twists.
Update (July 5, 2019): California is officially the first state to ban discrimination against Black people based on their hairstyles.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Wednesday, reports The Los Angeles Times. Originally dubbed The C.R.O.W.N. Act, the law will protect people with natural hair from discrimination in the workplace and public schools.
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“That is still fixated in my mind. It is played out in workplaces, in schools, not just in athletic competitions, every single day across America,” Newsom said. “This is long overdue.”
Senator Holly Mitchell, who authored the bill, knows the importance of hair in the Black community.
“For us, it is a symbol of who we are. I know when I locked 15 years ago, I knew it was both a social and political statement to the outside world,” Mitchell said.
The Democrat believes hair should be a non-factor in professional settings, according to KTVU.
“My choice of how I wear my hair shouldn’t impact my ability to get a job, keep a job or get promoted,” said Mitchell.
The law will go into effect on January 1.
Original story: On Monday, the California state Senate unanimously passed a bill that would ban discrimination based on hair associated with race. Schools and workplaces throughout the state won't be able to enforce dress codes that forbid natural styles, such as afros or braids.
Bill SB-188 Discrimination: hairstyles, also known as the C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), was introduced by Los Angeles Senator Holly J. Mitchell. It updates California's anti-discrimination laws, noting that the definition of race "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 further states that societal understanding of professionalism is closely linked to European features and mannerisms, entailing those who don't naturally fall into Eurocentric norms to alter their appearance to be deemed professional.
"Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group," it states.
In a speech before the vote, Mitchell said that a Google search for "unprofessional hairstyles" only showed Black women with natural hair, braids or twists, something she called "disheartening" but not very surprising.
"SB-188 protects Black employees and students from being forced to conform to a non-inclusive idea of a professional image at the expense of their personal choice," she noted.
The bill passed in a 37-0 vote and will now move forward to the state Assembly.
Watch Mitchell's speech below:
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