Bill to ban race-based hair discrimination introduced in Congress
Lawmakers in Congress have re-introduced a bill to ban hair discrimination. Members of Congress are urging Vice President Kamala Harris – as a woman of color – to support the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or CROWN Act on a federal level.
The bill aims to prevent race-based hair discrimination in the workplace, schools and housing.
New Jersey was the third state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019 following California and New York. But hair discrimination is still an issue in many parts of the country, especially for Black women.
“One of the front desk managers basically came up to me one day and asked me if I could take my braids out because I had just started my locs and I told them, ‘No, they’re not braids. They’re locs.’ And then this line, I’ll never forget, he said, ‘Can you unlock it?’” says Rachel Sakabo.
Sakabo worked at the front desk of the prominent St. Regis Hotel in New York City in 2016.
“I went through their training process and started training for my position that I was hired for, which was the front desk,” she says.
But her time at the hotel was cut short after that interaction with management.
“I was told that I didn’t fit the culture and that I was being let go,” Sakabo says.
In a 2020 study done at Duke University, findings showed that biases against ethnic and natural hairstyles resulted in fewer work opportunities and job advancement for Black women.
“I think it’s crazy that a bill has to be passed for us to wear our hair in its natural state. The way it grows out of our head” says Danielle Russ, with Suite Beverly Salon Boutique.
Russ says that she hears from many of her clients who are afraid to wear their natural hair to work.
“We show our clients that their natural texture is beautiful the way it is,” she says. “We really empower our women and teach our women to wear their hair natural and to love it and embrace it.”
New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman is part of a delegation re-introducing the CROWN Act in the House. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has re-introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate.