california joins the fight against hair discrimination

A proposed bill known as the 'Crown Act' would finally make discriminatory grooming rules illegal.

by Erica Euse
29 March 2019, 7:15pm

Image from i-D's a-z of hair'

A new bill has been proposed in California, that will finally make it illegal for employers to discriminate against people because of their hair. Much like the landmark bill passed earlier this year in New York City, SB 188 is designed to protect those who wear natural hairstyles like braids and dreadlocks.

The bill is backed by California Sen. Holly Mitchell and has come to be known as the “Crown Act” (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair). If passed, the bill will put an end to the enforcement of “race-neutral hairstyles,” which force European beauty standards onto people of color and perpetuate the racist stereotype that black hair is unprofessional.

“While anti-discrimination laws presently protect the choice to wear an afro, afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair," said Senator Mitchell in a statement about SB 188. "My bill will help ensure protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by specifying in government code that the protected class of race also includes traits historically associated with race identification, such as hair texture and hairstyles."

The movement to end hair discrimination has grown around the country, as people share their stories of being harassed and punished on the basis of their hairstyles. The proposed California bill has gained the support of the CROWN Coalition, which includes members like the National Urban League and Dove. The coalition hopes to address these issues not only in California, but across the US, to end the injustice of hair discrimination that has predominantly targeted black men and women.