With a vote of 235-189, the House passed the Crown Act on Friday, taking another step closer to ban hair-related discrimination, NBC News reports. Crown, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.
According to the bill, which now goes to the senate, “routinely, people of African descent are deprived of educational and employment opportunities” for wearing their hair in natural or protective hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, or Afros.
“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 in front of lawmakers.
While making her remarks on the House floor, Coleman referred to the case of Andrew Johnson, the Black varsity high school wrestler in New Jersey who was was forced to cut his dreadlocks in 2018 before a match.
“This bill is vitally important,” Coleman said. “It’s important to the young girls and the young boys who have to cut their hair in the middle of a wrestling match in front of everyone because some white referee says that your hair is inappropriate to engage in your match.”
The Biden administration also expressed its support for the bill, saying it “looks forward to working with the Congress to enact this legislation and ensure that it is effectively implemented.”
Several Black legislatures spoke about their own experience with hair discrimination before a vote was taken on Friday.
“As a Black woman who loves my braids, I know what it’s like to feel isolated because of how I wear my hair,” said Rep. Cori Bush. “This is the last time we say no more to Black people being made to feel like we have to straighten our hair to be deemed professional.”