US House passes bill banning discrimination against Black hairstyles


Show caption Ayanna Pressley is a co-sponsor of the Crown Act, along with Ilhan Omar and others. Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/AP Race US House passes bill banning discrimination against Black hairstyles Natural Black hairstyles are often considered ‘unprofessional’ and school children face detention over dress code violations Guardian staff and agencies Fri 18 Mar 2022 19.42 GMT Share on Facebook

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The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill banning race-based discrimination on hair, specifically textures or styles associated with a particular race or national origin such as dreadlocks, afros and braids.

The bill is known as the Crown Act, standing for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. It was co-sponsored by the progressive Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, among others, who cited research showing that Black students were significantly more likely to face school detention, often for dress code violations based on their hair.

“I want my two girls to grow up in a world where they know they will not be discriminated against because of their hair or the way they look,” Omar said in a press release on Friday after the vote.

“Natural Black hair is often deemed ‘unprofessional’ simply because it does not conform to white beauty standards,” representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, a co-sponsor, said. “Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people.”

The #CrownAct would prohibit hair discrimination by including an individual’s style of hair that is tightly-curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, Afros and other styles commonly associated with a race or national origin in the definition of racial discrimination. — Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) March 22, 2021

The legislation attracted derision from some Republicans, including the rightwing Colorado representative Lauren Boebert, who referred to it as “the bad hair bill”.

The Crown Act passed with some bipartisan support in the House and will now move to the Senate, where it is sponsored by the New Jersey Democratic US senator Cory Booker, where it has an uphill challenge, needing to secure 60 votes in the evenly divided chamber to pass.

Several states have passed local versions of the law.