People in the state of Massachusetts now have the legal right to wear their hair any way they damn well please in their schools, workplaces and other public spaces. After a version of the CROWN Act was unanimously approved by the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate, the state’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, signed the law on Tuesday. This makes Massachusetts the 18th state in the country to enact some version of the legislation.
According to the new Massachusetts law, “braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots and other formations,” are included in the definition of natural and protective hairstyles. And the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination will be charged with cracking down on any violations.
Here at The Root, we’ve covered way too many stories of hair discrimination across the country to count. We’ve also kept our eye on Congress’ ongoing effort to make The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), the law of the land. But as the House continues to try to push the bill through, the Senate just won’t let us be great.
Massachusetts made news for hair discrimination back in 2017. That’s when then-fifteen-year-old twins Deanna and Mya Cook were blocked from participating in extracurricular activities, including sports teams and the prom, after administrators told them their braids with extensions violated the school’s “Hair/Make-Up” policy.
The sisters, who were present at the bill signing, reflected on how the new law will help ensure others can feel confident about using their hair as a form of self-expression. “It really took me back to that first time when I got my detention. I was thinking about how hard this would be,” Deanna said. “No one will go through that again.” Mya added,“It feels amazing to know that we’ve changed so many lives.”