Dere Williams, 17, of East Bernard, Texas, is just one of the many black Americans who have felt discriminated against over their hair.
Advocates say the CROWN Act will help people like Williams.
CROWN LAW stands for creating a respectable and open world for natural hair.
The bill will protect against bias based on hair texture and protective styles, including position, cornrows, twists, braids, bantu knots, and afros.
What the legislation will do and why advocates feel it is vital
A bill being considered in Congress would prohibit discrimination on the basis of race in employment and for those involved in federally subsidized programs, housing programs, and public accommodations.
“A lot of people don’t realize that there is discrimination based on race,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, who leads the Unilever beauty and personal care portfolio and is a co-founder of the CROWN Alliance, which advocates for the legislation.
There are “implicit and explicit prejudices” against natural hair that are “deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large,” Cory Booker, D-N.J., the sponsor of the Senate CROWN Act, said in a statement.
Although current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, “our current legislation or our interpretation of it is inadequate, so additional protections are required,” Eaglestone Prey told CNN.
She raised Williams’ case in Texas, saying there was “no recourse for him” in a state without the protections set forth in the CROWN Act.
Policies, such as the high school dress code that prevented Williams from wearing his hair braided or twisted, do not “give us access to work, that financial empowerment, nor do they give us access to education, which is the knowledge to improve ourselves,” Eggleston-Presse said. To understand that this is not superficial. …this is the identity. And she puts us, puts blacks under the microscope, subjecting us to humiliation and unfair searches that we do not deserve. And it all wears down on ourselves – appreciation.”
“Naturally black hair is often viewed as ‘unprofessional’ simply because it doesn’t meet the standards of white beauty,” Democratic Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, the sponsor of the House bill, said in a statement. Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people.
Supporters of the CROWN law say it will prevent a larger trend across the United States, with more and more black students saying they are being penalized for their hairstyles.
The problem is with policies, experts say, which do not necessarily take into account a growing diversity of student body, to the detriment of mostly black schoolchildren.
In Williams’ case, the new high school he transferred to in February in East Bernard, Texas, had a dress code policy in its handbook stating that “a boy’s hair may not extend below the eyebrows, below the top of the ears or lower than usual. Standing shirt collar The length of the hair on the side should not be more than the length of the hair on the top.
The brochure, which has been removed from the district’s website, goes on to say: “This includes but [is] It’s not limited to long haircuts, side-swept styles, and long hair dangling on the shaved sides or the shaved back of the head. This also includes french fries in their making. Braided hair or cornrows will not be allowed. Don’t overdo the hairstyles.”
CNN made several attempts to reach East Bernard High School and the school district, but received no response.
In 2020, Louisiana High School student Asia Simo was expelled from her school’s cheerleading team after she developed flaws for taking her hair out of her military uniform, which led to her eventual dismissal.
Most principals and school boards cite policies and regulations as a reason for their actions and maintaining their rules is not intended to be discriminatory.
She added, “Whether you are a student in a class, an employee in the workplace, the next Supreme Court justice or a professional speaker [tempore]You deserve to appear your full self, rocking your crown with your head held high. “
Where does the legislation stand?
Republican opponents of the legislation have said that federal law already covers this type of discrimination and that Democrats should focus on other issues, such as inflation and rising gas prices.
The Biden administration said it “strongly supports” the CROWN Act and “looks forward to working with Congress to enact this legislation and ensure that it is effectively implemented.”
“The state legislation, which coincides with the federal legislation, actually provides more coverage, it ensures that even small businesses are covered, not just big companies,” Eaglestone Bracey told CNN, adding that the state action “creates more impetus for the federal government.” .”
CNN’s Lea Asmlash contributed to this report.