Democrats Reintroduce Federal CROWN Act Legislation to Prohibit Hair Discrimination

Democrats Reintroduce Federal CROWN Act Legislation to Prohibit Hair Discrimination

Democratic lawmakers have revived efforts to pass federal legislation aimed at banning discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle or hair texture with the reintroduction of the CROWN Act.

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey introduced HR 8191, also known as the CROWN Act of 2024, in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 30.

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” currently boasts 84 co-sponsors in the House.

If enacted, the legislation would extend protections to individuals with hairstyles commonly associated with race or national origin, such as “tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros,” shielding them from discrimination in federally assisted programs, housing, employment, schools, and public accommodations.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Representative Watson Coleman emphasized the importance of embracing the diversity of the nation and condemned discrimination against Black hair as discrimination against Black people.

She asserted the necessity of halting such discriminatory practices.

Previous attempts to pass federal CROWN Act legislation have faced challenges in Congress, particularly in garnering bipartisan support.

Watson Coleman acknowledged the hurdles in securing GOP backing in a Republican-controlled House but expressed optimism, citing bipartisan support in the Senate.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democrat, and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican, have co-sponsored the companion bill in the Senate. Booker emphasized the bipartisan nature of the issue, framing it as a matter of justice and fairness.

While federal efforts have encountered setbacks, various states and localities have made progress in enacting CROWN Act laws, with over 20 states implementing such legislation. However, the level of protection offered by these laws varies.

Advocates, including the Congressional Black Caucus, Dove, National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty, continue to champion the cause, highlighting the need to challenge purportedly “race-neutral” grooming policies that perpetuate Eurocentric beauty standards.

Adjoa B. Asamoah, lead legislative strategist and co-founder of the CROWN Coalition, emphasized the importance of dismantling practices that reinforce racism and mitigating the harm caused by race-based hair discrimination.

Despite past obstacles, proponents remain committed to advancing federal legislation to address hair discrimination and ensure equality in workplaces and beyond.