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House of Representatives approves CROWN Act

Just when it seemed like the news cycle could no longer offer positivity at all, an important bright spot: On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act.

The legislation, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” aims to outlaw race-based hair discrimination in employment, housing programs, and public accommodations. Led by Democrats, the House approved the initiative by 235-189 votes along party lines.

This is an important moment in the fight to end a long, enduring history of race-based discrimination against hair in the US. From schools and sports teams to employers and housing programs, the discriminatory regulation and police enforcement of black hair—whether explicit or de facto—is pervasive in American culture.

“Naturally black hair is often considered ‘unprofessional,’ simply because it does not meet White’s beauty standards,” New Jersey Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, who sponsored the bill, said in a public statement. “Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people.”

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The CROWN Act, which would prohibit “discrimination based on one’s texture or hairstyle,” also provides the specific context that “people of African descent are routinely denied educational and employment opportunities.” By establishing a specific legal framework to prevent discrimination, the measure aims to end centuries of racist policies that restrict traditional protective and natural hairstyles such as cornrows, afros, bantu knots, locks and braids.

“As a black woman who loves my braids, I know what it’s like to feel isolated because of the way I wear my hair,” Missouri Representative Cori Bush said on Friday, in a speech to the House ahead of the vote. “This is the last time we stop saying nothing to black people who are humiliated and discriminated against because of the same haircuts that companies benefit from. to be considered professional.”

The CROWN Act is led by the CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change and the Western Center on Law & Poverty. It has the backing of the White House and now goes to the Senate, where it is sponsored by Democratic Senator Cory Booker.

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