House passes ‘vital’ law banning discrimination against black hairstyles


The US House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, a law that would outlaw discrimination against people with hairstyles associated with a particular race or origin, and which many Democrats in the debate argued is a “kitchen table issue.” ‘ would appeal to black Americans across the country.

The legislature passed the law HR 2116, with a majority of 235-189 on Friday. Votes fell largely along party lines, with only 14 Republican lawmakers joining their Democratic counterparts in supporting the legislation.

The legislation states that “people of African descent are regularly denied educational and employment opportunities” for wearing their hair in natural hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, braids, afros and bantu knots.

Bonnie Watson Coleman MP, who introduced the law, argued in her Friday morning speech that formally banning prejudice against hairstyles is essential to creating a fairer society.

“Here we stand today on behalf of those individuals – whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not – who, as children in school, as adults trying to find jobs, as individuals trying to get housing, are discriminated against as individuals who want easy access to public housing and beneficiaries of government-funded programs,” said Ms Watson Coleman.

“There is no logical reason why anyone should be discriminated against at any level because of their hair texture or hair style,” added the New Jersey representative.

At least 14 states have passed legislation outlawing hair discrimination, with the Massachusetts State House being the latest after unanimously passing a version of the CROWN Act.

House Republicans who opposed the bill used their speaking time to question the need for the CROWN Act, believing that existing laws protecting against racial discrimination should also apply to hair-based discrimination.

“It is covered. It’s wrong if it happens,” said Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio.

This argument was thoroughly refuted when a number of Black and African American lawmakers detailed the discrimination they had personally experienced because of their hair before the legislation was voted on.

Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democratic representative from Wisconsin, detailed how her hair had been split at a previous job when someone said she was “an embarrassment” about her looks.

In a more direct rebuke of Mr Jordan’s rejection of the legislation, African American Rep Al Green explained how the Ohio representative’s line of reasoning was to reject an issue that disproportionately affects black Americans.

“If you say the American people don’t want that, you can’t exclude black people. Black people would have this on the floor. This is a kitchen table problem in black households,” Mr Green said.

Last month, the same bill that would outlaw discrimination against natural hair in employment, public places and homes did not find sufficient support after the House of Representatives voted 235 to 188, just short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass legislation.

MP Watson Coleman, after last month’s failure, indicated they would try again in the coming weeks under regular House Rules (which would not require a two-thirds majority). House passes ‘vital’ law banning discrimination against black hairstyles

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