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Recently, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the CROWN Act, which passed the House earlier this year. The CROWN Act bans hair discrimination, including discrimination against natural Black hair. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) reintroduced the CROWN Act in 2021.
National CROWN Day, also known as “Black Hair Independence Day,” is celebrated on July 3 and it’s all about celebrating Black hair. Created by The Crown Coalition, National Crown Day is campaigning to end hair discrimination, which the Black community faces far too often when wearing their natural hair, in the workplace, and at schools.
The CROWN Act stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” — a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination.
On July 3, 2021, the state of California began the charge to end discrimination against Black hair across the nation by signing the CROWN Act into law.
The inaugural CROWN Act law, which was first introduced by California Senator Holly Mitchell in 2019, broadened how race was defined in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Code, protecting Black people from hair discrimination at school and in the workplace.
Legislation banning race-based hair discrimination has been long overdue.
In August 2018, Louisiana student Faith Fennidy, 11, broke down in tears after administrators said her braids violated school policy.
Andrew Johnson, a high school wrestler, was forced to publicly shave off his dreads in order to compete in his weight class in 2019.
That same year, Chastity Jones said an employer rescinded her job offer after she refused to get rid of her dreadlocks.
These tragic incidents “were the wind that gave us the opportunity to help challenge public perception, to help us push back on employer perception, to change the law,” Mitchell said in a statement.
Since successfully becoming California law, the measure against race-based hair discrimination has earned support from federal and state legislators alike.
According to the CROWN Act website, 17 states including Louisiana, New York, and Tennessee have signed the legislation into law.
Earlier this year, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act was passed by the House 235 to 189 with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle supporting the measure that was first introduced as H.R. 2116 by New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D).
President Joe Biden previously talked about his commitment to signing the bill into law, according to a source from The Hill.
Despite bipartisan, bicameral support, the CROWN Act did not garner support from enough Republican Senators to override a filibuster. Following the bill’s failure to pass the Senate, Congresswoman Watson Coleman issued this statement:
“The Senate continues to stand in the way of progress for our country. Republicans’ obstruction of the CROWN Act is part of a long tradition of weaponizing the filibuster to block civil rights legislation.
“When the CROWN Act was first introduced during the 116th Congress, it passed the House by voice vote without objection. When I reintroduced it last year, it passed the House once again, despite the Republican efforts to delay it. In both instances, Republican Senators stood in the way of the bill’s passage.
“It saddens and angers me that, in the year 2022, something as simple as opposing racial discrimination has become controversial. My colleagues across the aisle were presented with an opportunity to stand united against discrimination. They chose instead to give in to the climate of division and hyper-partisanship.
“Our fight is far from over. Today, I am disappointed, but not defeated. I remain steadfast in my commitment to protecting all Americans’ right to exist as their authentic selves.”
The Black Information Network contributed to this report.