The Crown Act Law Adopted in Several More States in the U.S!

Back in January of 2019, the state of New York began to ban hair discrimination in the workplace and in schools. That July, California became the first state to enact a law that made it illegal to discriminate their employees because of the way they wear their hair. This act was appropriately named the Crown Act. The Crown Act stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, but is also aptly named because many curly haired folks take pride in their hair by referring to their curls as their crown. Since 2019, several states in addition to California have enacted this into law. These states include New York, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Connecticut, Louisiana, and New Jersey. There are certain cities and counties in Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky, where the law has been passed as well. This is amazing news as many curly haired people, particularly people of color, still face plenty of discrimination for their hair, especially in the workplace or in schools. The Crown Act Law specifically caters toward people who have been discriminated in the workplace because of their hair, however, some states such as Louisiana, are amending the law to include schools as well. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and we hope all states going forward choose to do the right thing and bring this act to law, protecting the rights of curly people in both the workplace and in schools.

 

While California was the first state to officially pass the Crown Act, New York had begun to pass bans on hair discrimination months prior.  This ban in New York came after Raelene Roberts, an employee at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger, a high profile salon in Manhattan, and several of her coworkers, filed complaints against their employer. For many years, there has been plenty of discrimination toward people of color who wear their hair naturally and in styles such as afros, braids, twists, cornrows, and locs.

When asked, Roberts says, “I first realized my hair was an issue for Sharon Dorram and the workers there when I asked for an evaluation from the general manager at the time. The only negative feedback he gave me was that my hair wasn’t straight enough. Even though I already straightened it with a flat iron, he said it needed to be a little bit straighter.”

 

She later goes on to say, “I felt hurt. I felt like, why am I working here? Why do you want me to work here if you don’t like who I present myself as? […] I wish Sharon Dorram asked me why I wore my hair the way I wore it instead of saying I need to change it. Understand why we wear our hair this way. She could have just educated herself by asking me those questions.”

 

Roberts loves her natural hair and says that it makes her feel confident, gives her freedom, and makes her feel stylish and unlike anyone else. She also has fond memories of being a child and having her hair done by her sisters, saying that her natural hair reminds her of good memories from her childhood. She said, “When we were growing up, every time I got my hair done by one of my sisters, you know, it brought us together, like sitting in the kitchen, with grandma, you know, doing our hair, it’s memories. It’s good memories.”

 

You can be even more inspired by Raelene Roberts by watching this video, where she talks about her love for her natural hair and the unfairness of the discrimination she faced while working at the salon.

Hair discrimination faced by people of color in America, especially African Americans, is something that does not only affect employees at work but also children attending school. Over the years, there have been many news stories about the discrimination children have faced while at school because of how they wear their natural hair.

 

“This is not a grooming issue, this is a humans rights issue,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, a senior staff attorney at ACLU. ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union, which is a nonprofit organization that aims to defend and preserve the rights all Americans should be given.

Not long ago, the ACLU defended a pair of twin girls from Massachusetts, who were banned from their extracurricular activities because they wore box braids and extensions.

 

Through the years, black students everywhere have faced discrimination for their natural hair. Certain traditional natural styles, such as locs and afros, have been banned entirely, and some students have been asked to cut or straighten their hair to fit the dress code policies at their schools. Many students have also been banned from school events, such as prom, for the way they wear their hair.

 

The Crown Act and similar bans are definitely a step in the right direction, and now it is more important than ever that our children know they are beautiful and equal to everyone else, regardless of the way they style their hair. Hair is how we express ourselves, and we should allow children to do such without them being treated differently because of it. So make sure your curly girly always knows she is beautiful, and her hair is one more thing that makes her special.

Read inspiring books to her, such as Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates, about a young girl with an afro larger and curlier than any of her classmates. And of course, Curlee Girlee and Curlee Girlee’s Got Talent! She can even wear matching shirts to show off her curly pride! Curlee Girlee now has its own I am a Curlee Girlee shirts, and you can also get fun shirts for you and your daughter that say things such as “Curly Hair, Don’t Care!”

 

It is also an excellent idea to take the time with your curly girly to learn how to best style her hair in a way that she loves and makes her feel comfortable and confident, and what products work best to achieve this. An amazing book to own is Natural Hair Care: 125+ Homemade Hair Care Recipes and Secrets, to help you and your daughter on her journey to loving her natural hair if she doesn’t already. There are also many amazing products created specifically with natural hair and styles in mind, such as African Pride’s Black Castor Miracle Gel, which was created just for braid, loc and twist styles, and check out our recent article, 3 Best Natural Products for Curly Hair.

 

Hair discrimination is a big issue, and we are glad that this is being brought to light, and that states are beginning to do something about it. This discrimination and singling-out of our children is incredibly detrimental to their happiness, body image, and confidence. We need to tell our children from a young age that they are beautiful no matter what, and here are Five Things to Do or Say if Your Daughter is Showing Signs of Hating Her Curly Hair.

 

Our children should grow up in a world that will accept them for who they are, and allow them to be as comfortable and confident as they can in their own skin. The Crown Act and inspirational, strong women like Raelene Roberts are putting the world in the right direction, and hopefully, this is just the beginning of a movement where we can all embrace and learn to love our hair and ourselves. And our children will learn to do so too!

 

Atara Twersky, author of Curlee Girlee is a TODAY Show Style Icon. Her mission is to teach girls to embrace the beautiful curls they have with power and confidence. Join us as together we change the “coarse” of curly hair. Don’t forget to check out our recent article on What to Do or Say if Your Daughter is Showing Signs of Hating Her Curly Hair.

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