CROWN Act looks to protect Black hairstyles from discrimination

The Illinois General Assembly is wanting to change discrimination against ethnic hair styles.
The Illinois General Assembly is wanting to change discrimination against ethnic hair styles.(123RF)
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 10:54 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - For Peoria Democrat Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act is personal; she and other colleagues have faced consequences for their natural hair before.

“We had our own stories about being treated as though we were not professional, or on par, simply because of the way that our hair grows out of our head,” Gordon-Booth said.

She wants to end that discrimination with the CROWN Act, which would include hairstyles in the definition of race discrimination. This would apply to all types of hair, including braids, dreads and other protective hairstyles. However, Gordon-Booth said it’s not just for Black hair. It would also help other people who face discrimination for their natural hair.

“Black-Mex and many other folks that are a wide variety of ethnicities that sometimes have hair grow out of their head that isn’t straight,” Gordon-Booth said.

She said the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Ketanji Brown Jackson are an indication of how times are changing, noting that Jackson wears her hair in a natural style. Black hairstyles and natural hair were previously deemed unprofessional.

There were 40 supporters of the bill, most representing themselves as opposed to lobbying organizations.

Similar legislation has passed in California, New York, Colorado, Virginia and other states. A federal CROWN Act just passed out of the the House as well. Gordon-Booth said she wants to do what she can in Illinois.

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