Congress Passed the CROWN Act

Race-based hair discrimination is one step closer to getting banned nationwide.

Woman in plaid suit with natural texture hair
Photo: Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Today, the U.S. House passed the CROWN Act, bringing race-based hair discrimination one step closer to being banned from coast to coast. According to ABC News, the Democratic-led House voted 235-189 to pass the bill (H.R. 2116), which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair." The bill protects individuals with natural and protective hairstyles, such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros, from discrimination.

"Natural Black hair is often deemed 'unprofessional' simply because it does not conform to White beauty standards," Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said in a statement. "Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people."

Previously, California and Massachusets had worked to get the CROWN Act through their respective legislative bodies. California was successful in 2019 and the Massachusetts state House passed it as well. Now, it's moving through the state Senate. More than 13 states join California and Massachusetts in outlawing discrimination based on hair.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey sponsored the bill for the U.S. Senate. The Biden administration added that it "strongly supports" the CROWN Act. Last month, the bill did not pass when Democrats attempted to fast-track it with only 15 Republicans supporting.

"As a Black woman who loves my braids, I know what it's like to feel isolated because of how I wear my hair," Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri said before Friday's vote. "This is the last time we say no more to Black people being demeaned and discriminated against for the same hairstyles that corporations profit from. No more to Black people being made to feel like we have cut our locs just to get a job. This is the last time we say no more to Black people being made to feel like we have to straighten our hair to be deemed professional."

Opponents of the bill say that there is already protection in place for people with natural hair, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and insisted that Democrats focus on subjects like inflation and gas prices.

"Fourteen months of chaos and we're doing a bill on hair," Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said. "I hope we can actually focus on the things that matter to the American people."

Democrats noted that courts have "misinterpreted the law by narrowly interpreting the meaning of race" in the past and that discrimination continues.

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