For Black people, hair discrimination is still a major issue. In fact, it’s such a pervasive problem that in March 2021, Senator Cory Booker introduced the CROWN Act (S. 888), which will “prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair,” per the United States Congress. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives and is waiting for a vote in the Senate.
Per a press release provided to The Root, with no movement on the bill, entertainment and media labor union SAG-AFTRA is urging Congress to pass the CROWN Act in a letter signed by members including Kerry Washington, Zoë Kravitz, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle, Niecy Nash-Betts and Yvette Nicole Brown.
“Implicit biases toward Black workers and students based on their hair texture, style and color are still the norm in federal offices and public education,” the letter states. “Black students are disciplined at a rate four times higher than any other racial or ethnic group, and research has found that 70% of all suspension disciplines are discretionary, many stemming from dress code violations that include hairstyles. In addition, the biased lens that makes curly hair or locs unprofessional–despite the fact it has nothing to do with job performance–far too often holds Black people back from promotions and job opportunities.”
Any Black woman will tell you that her relationship with her hair is complicated enough without having to constantly worry about the reactions of co-workers and supervisors. It’s complete nonsense that we even need a Congressional bill to end hair discrimination, but it’s even more egregious that we have to fight so hard to get that bill passed.
The SAG-AFTRA Hair and Makeup Equity Work Group, which is chaired by Jason George and includes Yvette Nicole Brown, Michelle Hurd and Sheryl Lee Ralph among its members, recommended sending the letter.
“When you work in an industry where you can be hired–or not hired–largely on how you look, you become acutely aware of how damaging it can be to discriminate against someone based on something as extraneous as how they wear their hair,” George said in a statement. “We’ve made strides in our own industry, but we have our union backing us up and not everyone has that. Until our nation’s leaders say, in no uncertain terms, that it is not acceptable to discriminate against someone based on their hair, private employers and institutions will continue to skirt the issue with ease. The CROWN Act sets a new standard of equity that makes it harder to justify harmful and outdated practices.”
It’s clear that this is seen as a Black issue, which is probably why the Senate isn’t in a rush to take action. However, can’t we at least give Black kids and teenagers one less thing to focus on at school? They’re already worried about shootings, tests, grades, books being banned and of course the regular everyday living in America discrimination and microagressions. It really feels like hair shouldn’t be on that list.