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Celebrating natural hair like a crown: Still a battle in 43 states

July 3, 2020 was the first ever National CROWN Day in celebration of California’s legislation banning hair discrimination.

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The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance founded by Dove, The National Urban League, Western Center On Law & Poverty and Color of Change has declared July 3 as National CROWN Day. 

The day was chosen to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the signing of the CROWN Act in California. This act made it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace or at school for their choice of natural hairstyle, like Afros, braids or locs. 

The groundbreaking legislation was first introduced by California state senator Holly J. Mitchell in January 2019, and signed into law in July of that year by Governor Gavin Newsom

New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, Washington and Virginia have also passed the CROWN Act this year, following in California’s footsteps. 

Now, Virginia is the first southern state to end this discriminatory practice. 

“A person’s hair is a core part of their identity. Nobody deserves to be discriminated against simply due to the hair type they were born with,” said Virginia state delegate Delores McQuinn, who sponsored the bill.

According to Dove’s CROWN Research Study, Black women are 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work, and are 1.5 times more likely to have reported being sent home, or know of a Black woman who was sent home from work because of her hair. 

The CROWN Act, which stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, received national recognition after director Matthew A. Cherry won an Oscar for his short film, Hair Love, a story of a Black father learning to style his daughter’s natural hair. 

Cherry invited DeAndre Arnold, a Texas high school student who was banned from attending his graduation and prom for wearing locs, to the Oscar ceremony as his guest. 

“There’s a very important issue out there, The CROWN Act, and we can help to get this passed in all fifty states, which will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s to stop happening,” Cherry said in his acceptance speech.

The CROWN Coalition has expanded their mission to focus on combating systemic racism beyond hair discrimination. They have slightly shifted their acronym to: Creating a Respectful and Open World with No Racism. 

July 3, 2020 was the first celebration of National CROWN Day. It was a day of virtual conversations about the issues, and people were encouraged to #PassTheCrown by signing the petition on their website. 

There’s 43 states to go, but with the way the nation has been making changes in favor of racial justice and equity, the CROWN Act should definitely be passing in more states soon. 
 

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