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The Crown Act

National Crown Day: July 3 is dedicated to ending hair discrimination

TextAlex Peters

The day marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Crown Act in California, which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture

The CROWN Coalition has declared July 3, 2020 a national holiday in the US. National CROWN Day falls on the first anniversary of the signing of the Crown Act in California and will be a day of solidarity for the human rights of Black men, women and children to wear their natural hair boldly and proudly, without fear of discrimination.

The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance founded by Dove, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Color Of Change, are encouraging people to take the time on July 3 to sign its petition to end hair-based discrimination, in addition to sending a letter or email to federal legislators in states that have not yet passed The CROWN Act. It is also asking people to share the Crown Act's mission using the hashtag #PassTheCrown on social media.

“The Black community has always had a strong tradition of passing down stories, history and cultural pride to shape future generations on what is important to remember and carry forward,” the Coalition said in a statement. “Given the heightened spotlight on racial injustice, now is the time to galvanize the country to eradicate all forms of discrimination that negatively impact the Black community, including hair discrimination.”

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination in schools and the workplace based on hairstyle and hair texture including bans on afros, dreadlocks, cornrows, braids and other traditionally black hairstyles. California was the first state to pass the legislation last year and since then the law has also been passed in New York, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, Colorado and Maryland. New Jersey signed the CROWN Act into law on December 19, 2019, the one-year anniversary of the wrestling match where New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Johnson's locs were forcibly cut off

In the rest of the US it is not against the law to discriminate against someone simply because they wear their hair in an Afro, locs, braids, or any other traditionally Black hairstyles.

Moving forward, the CROWN Coalition has said it is expanding its work to fight more than race-based hair discrimination. “The Coalition will be broadening its efforts by working to advance legislation and social change on more issues of bias and discrimination, as well as issues of public safety, voter suppression, and economic equity,” the statement reads. “The CROWN Coalition will now stand for Creating a Respectful and Open World with No Racism.”

While the CROWN Act is US-based legislation, campaigners in the UK are working to bring in similar laws to this country. Although workplace discrimination on the basis on gender, race or religion is illegal in the UK there is currently no laws specifically protecting against hair discrimination.  

Several instances of racial hair discrimination in the UK have made headlines in recent years. In February, London student Ruby Williams was awarded an £8,500 settlement in compensation for being repeatedly sent home from school over the course of two years because of her Afro hair. While in September 2019, a school in North London reversed its decision to ban cornrows and knotted braids after receiving widespread backlash.

In an attempt to combat this prejudice and implement similar amendments as in the US in the UK, Emma Dabiri started a petition earlier this year to amend the 2010 UK Equality Act to include hair. The petition currently has 55,000 signatures.

“Black and mixed children are being penalised by policies that cry neutrality but are categorically and inherently biased,” the SOAS teaching fellow and author of Don’t Touch My Hair told Dazed Beauty.

“The excuse is often that the rules are applied evenly to everybody so they’re not discriminatory. But that’s not the case. They are rules created by white people for white people. They are designed according to a standard that suits the characteristics of European textured hair.”

Support the Crown Coalition and its mission here and sign Dabiri’s petition here.

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