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Industry • Perspective

CROWN Act Update: The Latest on Eliminating Race-Based Hair Discrimination

Discriminating against someone based on their hairstyle or hair texture may soon be considered illegal at the federal level.

The CROWN Act — which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” — is slowly but surely making its way across the United States. The bill prohibits workplace discrimination based on hair textures or protective hairstyles that are associated with a particular race or national origin. Styles like locs, cornrows, braids, twists, Bantu knots, and Afros are usually front and center in conversations about the CROWN Act. It’s still not technically the law of the land, but the legislation is headed to the Senate for a vote, this time with the explicit backing of the Biden Administration. Brush up on what the CROWN Act is all about here, then dig into these updates to see where things stand this summer.

Here are the 16 states that have passed the CROWN Act

Since legislation banning race-based hair discrimination first passed in California in 2019, a total of 16 states have signed the CROWN Act into law: 

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Nebraska

  • Nevada

  • New York

  • New Jersey

  • New Mexico

  • Oregon

  • Tennessee

  • Virginia

  • Washington

Legislation has been either filed or pre-filed in over 20 more states in the nation. The CROWN Act is currently pending at the state level in Massachusetts, and has passed both chambers in Louisiana and Alaska, where the governor’s signature is the next and final step. Meanwhile, 42 individual municipalities have adopted the CROWN Act, even without consensus at the state level. It’s actually easier to talk about the short list of states where the process of filing CROWN Act legislation hasn’t begun yet: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Ohio doesn’t have any legislation pending at the state level, but four cities have passed the CROWN Act: Newburgh Heights, Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

In March 2022, the CROWN Act passed in the House

In March of this year, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley took to the floor of the House of Representatives to declare that Black hair belongs everywhere. In an interview with Jonathan Van Ness on their Netflix show “Getting Curious,” Rep. Pressley talked about hair, identity, autonomy, and power. “The reason why I say policy is my love language is because injustice was legislated, it was codified in law,” she said. “If we can legislate hurt and harm, I do think we can legislate equity, we can legislate justice, we can legislate healing.” 

The CROWN Act passed with a vote of 235-189 and it will soon be the Senate’s turn to vote on the bill. The House voted mostly along party lines, and Senate Republicans are expected to be a tough sell. This also isn’t the first time the CROWN Act has made it this far; in 2020, the legislation passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. Luckily, the bill’s many champions won’t quit. From Representatives like Ayanna Pressley to celebrities, artists, activists, and regular working people like you and me, there’s a whole movement dedicated to eliminating race-based hair discrimination once and for all. The Crown Coalition isn’t giving up anytime soon.

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