United States House Passes the CROWN Act: After many years of pushing for policy change, the CROWN Act bans race-based hair discrimination.

On Friday, March 18, The House passed the CROWN Act, with a vote of  235-189. It was largely on party lines with 14 Republicans joining the Democrats. 

The act was introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. CROWN is the acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. It specifically bans  “discrimination based on an individual’s texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin,” NPR stated. The bill specifically bans discrimination at work, federal programs, and public accommodations. 

“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 in who are trying to get jobs, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally-funded programs,” Watson Coleman said in remarks on the House floor Friday morning.

Congressional action is being taken after many years of advocates pushing for policy change of race-based hair discrimination at the national level. Multiple states have carried out their own versions of the CROWN Act, including Calif. (the first state to enact a ban), N.J. and N.Y.  On March 17, Mass. became the most recent state to pass a local ban on hair discrimination. 

“Hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism, and its purpose is to preserve white spaces,” the NAACP says. “Policies that prohibit natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs, have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms, and Black adults from their employment.”

This bill will now continue to the Senate for deliberation. The democratic majority in the Senate may not be enough to pass the CROWN act legislation, although the Biden administration has stated it “strongly supports” the bill. 

Sources: NPR, NBC News

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