A bill passed yesterday in the California state senate prohibiting employers and schools from discriminating against natural hair.
Proposed by Senator Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, SB-188 will prevent the discrimination of people with natural African-American hairstyles such as braids and dreadlocks.
The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act, otherwise known as the CROWN Act, will protect black employees and students in K-12 from being forced to straighten their hair or use other methods to keep it from being in its natural state.
There is no precedent in California state or federal court to protect individuals against hair discrimination, with the exception of an afro., but doesn't cover all types of hairstyles. Sen. Mitchell said in a statement that this bill aims to end decades of discrimination.
"While federal anti-discrimination laws explicitly defend the choice to wear an afro, they are silent with regard to braids, locks (or locs) and twists, known collectively as 'protective hairstyles,' and commonly worn by African-American and black women and men," a statement from Senator Mitchell's office said.
"It is a shame that legislation is needed in the first place," said USC Sociology and Journalism Professor Ben Carrington."If the type of hair that you have has nothing to do with the job you're doing, then there shouldn't be those barriers."
Sen. Mitchell said in a statement that this bill aims to end decades of discrimination. Carrington explained that the discrimination stems, in part, from colonial influence. Carrington also argued that having a certain hairstyle, like those included in the bill, can be seen as a political statement, which may be a part of the reason why there is tension.
The bill is sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change and the Dove.
Now that is has been passed by the state senate. the bill will next be heard by the assembly.