We’ve all seen or heard of stories about black children being pulled out of class and black employees having their jobs placed in jeopardy over their hairstyles. Last month, for example, Texas high school student Deandre Arnold made headlines after he was suspended over his locks and told he needed to cut them before he would be allowed to graduate.
Well, there appears to finally be a reckoning happening across the nation regarding this discriminatory practice which has been going on for years, if not, decades as more and more states are passing bills banning it.
CNN reported that in just one week, three states introduced or advanced bills that would ban hair discrimination as part of a national effort known as the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The CROWN Act seeks to ensure protection against discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles.
The Colorado state House passed the CROWN Act on Wednesday, and the state Senate introduced the bill on Thursday.
The Washington state House passed a bill on the same Thursday that would prohibit employers and schools from discriminating against people over hairstyles and textures including afros, braids, locks and twists. The bill was introduced in the state Senate on Friday.
In Minnesota, a bill introduced similar legislation earlier in the week.
You may remember that just a couple weeks ago director Matthew A. Cherry won an Oscar for the short film Hair Love, a story about a black father trying to do his daughter’s hair. Cherry, along with producers Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, invited Arnold to the ceremony and, during his acceptance speech, Cherry pushed for the CROWN Act to be passed everywhere in the country.
“’Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, we wanted to normalize black hair and there’s a very important issue out there, the CROWN Act. If we can help get this passed in all 50 states it will help stories like Deandre Arnold’s ... stop to happen,” Cherry said. And now that may very well be on its way to happening.
As The Root has reported previously, the CROWN Act has already been made law in California, New York and New Jersey. And at least 22 states are following suit by considering the legislation, while local jurisdictions like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have already passed it as well.
And finally, because we all got to come to glory sooner or later, this week Texas lawmakers said they would consider passing the act or something similar too. Members of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus announced this week that they were working on a bill for the 2021 legislative session. This came, of course, after Arnold’s story broke and spread.
The CROWN Act has also recently been introduced in Congress.
What a time for black hair. (And for me to wish I still had hair. *rubs head and cries a little*)