The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace) Act was created in 2019 as a partnership between beauty brand Dove and the Crown Coalition to ensure protection against race-based hair discrimination (against styles such as locs, braids, twists, and knots) in public schools and workplaces. According to research from Dove in 2019, hair-based discrimination continues to run rampant. Black women are 80 percent more likely than white women to feel the need to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office, 30 percent more likely to be made aware of a formal workplace appearance policy, and 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair—which is why The CROWN Act's mission toward inclusion is critically important.
- Esi Eggleston Bracey, Esi Eggleston Bracey is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Unilever North America. She was honored as one of Well+Good's 2020 Changemakers thanks to her work toward ending hair-based discrimination with The CROWN Act.
Support for this bill comes largely from Democrats, passing 235-189 along party lines. A version of this bill was passed by the House in September 2020 but didn't get the votes needed to make it through the then Republican-controlled senate. Currently, the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote when needed. This time around, the bill has a much stronger chance of becoming law.
Standing in front of the House of Representatives on Friday, Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (who introduced the bill along with New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, California Rep. Barbara Lee, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Wisconson Rep. Gwen Moore ) delivered a powerful speech about why we need a unified, national shift toward the acceptance of natural hair.
"For too long Black girls have been discriminated against and criminalized for the hair that grows on our heads and the way we move through and show up in this world," said Rep. Pressley. "Whether you are a student in a classroom, an employee in the workplace, or the next Supreme Court justice, or the speaker Pro-Tempore, you deserve to show up as your full self, rocking your crown with your head held high."
Prior to this latest win, the CROWN Act had only been passed on a state level in 14 states including California, New York, and Maryland, making hair-based discrimination illegal in these places. Now, it's one step closer to becoming federal law. "We are excited by and proud of the historic passing of the CROWN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, [but] we will not slow down while we await The CROWN Act reaching the Senate," says Esi Eggleston Bracey, the EVP and COO of Unilever North America, who was also one of our 2020 Changemakers. Looking ahead, she and the team at the CROWN coalition will continue to push for legislation at the state and national levels to ensure members of the Black community are free to wear their natural hair however they so choose.
While the latest news represents a significant win, there's still more work to be done. Next up? Passing the bill in the Senate. To do your part to help push it forward, sign the CROWN Act petition and visit TheCrownAct.com for a
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