Updated: Jan 30
July 3rd is National CROWN Day and is the anniversary of the CROWN Act (SB188) - Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. On July 3rd, 2019, the State of California passed the Crown Act to "...ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools". (Source: TheCrownAct.com) California was the first state to pass this Act and so it is HISTORIC and a day to celebrate.
While most people would assume that existing laws already protect against racial discrimination, that's only partially true. US laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides protection against workplace discrimination based on race but past court cases based on discrimination due to natural hair have not been successful. Without an overall US law including a more specific definition of racial attributes being protected, many black people were still facing unfair workplace and hiring practices. The CROWN Act is a huge step forward to ensure protections for black people in education, housing and the workplace.
Past and recent history is filled with stories from black men and women being discriminated against in school and in the workplace due to their natural hair. Just one example of workplace discrimination includes Chastity Jones, who was fired from her job because she refused the company’s request for her to cut her dreadlocks. Ms. Jones filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming that being fired constituted race discrimination because “…dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent”. Unfortunately the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals provided a decision that claimed hiring decisions based on hairstyle is not racially discriminating because dreadlocks are not “ an immutable characteristic of black individuals” and so cannot be considered part of a protected category of Title IIV. This has to stop. Natural hair IS professional and should have no bearing on someone's professional skills or experience for the workplace. The CROWN Act is just a starting point to fix this issue of racial inequality and social injustice.
More Progress is Needed!
The CROWN Act is a start but there is still SO much more work to be done! The CROWN Act initially only covered those living in the State of California. The good news is that there are currently 7 states total that have passed the CROWN Act: California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington. (Source: TheCrownAct.com) More progress needs to be made NOW to protect everyone currently in the workforce but more importantly, progress is needed so that all children can grow up in a better world where they can go after their professional goals and dreams without fear of discrimination based on their natural hair.
Visit TheCrownAct.com for more info & to show your support to get the the CROWN Act passed in your own state.
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