Proposed legislation cosponsored by US Sen. Brown, of Ohio, would ban discrimination based on hairstyles

Proposed legislation cosponsored by US Sen. Brown, of Ohio, would ban discrimination based on hairstyles
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, is putting his support behind a proposed bill that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles associated with a particular race.

The “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” or CROWN, Act would eliminate schools, workplaces, and federally-funded institutions from discriminating against people who wear certain hairstyles, particularly of African descent.

“No one should face discrimination in the workplace or in school for wearing their hair the way it grows naturally,” said Sen. Brown. “We’ve heard too often of black workers or students targeted and treated unfairly, simply because of their hair texture and hairstyle. If we truly value the dignity of work, we cannot accept discrimination of any kind. This legislation will make a much needed clarification that will help ensure civil rights in our schools, workplaces and federally funded institutions are protected.”

The ban on hair discrimination would include styles that are tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, knots, and Afros, according to the announcement from Sen. Brown’s office.

“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” said U.S. Sen. for New Jersey Cory Booker, the bill’s sponsor. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country. You need to look no further than Gabrielle Union, who was reportedly fired because her hair was ‘too black’ — a toxic dog-whistle African Americans have had to endure for far too long. No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage."

The proposal comes after several recent incidents, including the one involving Union, where several African-Americans were discriminated for their hair. In another case, a New Jersey high school wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match.

Brown cited in his announcement a study that showed approximately 80 percent of African-American women felt the need to change their hairstyle from natural in order to feel comfortable in the workplace.

The Cincinnati City Council voted in October 2019 to ban discrimination against people with natural hair, making it the second city in the U.S. to implement a similar law.

A companion proposal cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, of Ohio, was also introduced to the House of Representatives.

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