In a vote of 235-189, the House passed the Crown Act which bans any hair-related discrimination based on national origin or race on Friday (March 18), The Hill reports. Only 14 members of the Republican party sided with Democrats in favor of the bill. It will now go before the Senate for confirmation.
CROWN, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey) to support people of color who received less employment and educational opportunities for wearing natural hair, Afros, twists, cornrows and any other type of protective hairstyle.
“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals, whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not, are discriminated against as children in school, as adults who are trying to get jobs, individuals who are trying to get housing, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally-funded programs,” Watson Coleman said while addressing the House Friday morning.
“And why are they denied these opportunities? Because there are folks in this society who get to make those decisions who think because your hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots or it is not straight and blonde and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access to those issues,” she added. “That’s discrimination.”
The Congresswoman said that there’s no reason for anyone to “be discriminated against on any level because of the texture of their hair or the style of their hair.”
She also took aim at her white political constituents saying, “I understand that my colleagues on the Republican side don’t get the vast array of discriminatory practices because they spend so much time trying to perpetuate an all-white society here in the most diverse country in the world.”
Another highlight from her speech was when she referenced high school wrestler Andrew Johnson in New Jersey. In 2018, he was coerced into cutting his hair or risk forfeiting a match.
“This bill is vitally important,” she said. “It’s important to the young girls and the young boys who have to cut their hair in the middle of a wrestling match in front of everyone because some white referee says that your hair is inappropriate to engage in your match.” In her closing remarks, she expressed that the bill “represents movement and understanding” of how discrimination is seen and the damage it causes.
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