California has become the first US state to make race-related hair discrimination illegal. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the ‘CROWN Act’ into law on July 3, prohibiting employers and schools from enforcing hair-grooming policies that restrict natural hairstyles such as Afros and protective styles.
"The CROWN Act is redefining the cultural norms of ’professional images’ for all people," said Senator Holly J. Mitchell, who first introduced the bill, ushering it through the California Senate in April and the California Assembly in June.
The bill was strongly supported by the CROWN Coalition, an alliance made up of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and the Unilever-owned beauty giant Dove. The acronym stands for ‘Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.’ The coalition is also supporting similar bills in New York and New Jersey.
"Dove is proud to be a part of changing the narrative for Black women and girls and anyone with textured hair, and we are excited to stand with the CROWN Coalition and Senator Holly J. Mitchell to make a tangible impact in the state of California," said Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, in a statement.
A national study carried out by Dove earlier this year found that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to have reported being sent home from work — or know of a Black woman sent home — because of their hair. They are also 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or expectations in the workplace.
New York and New Jersey next?
In New York, the NY S6209 bill to prohibit discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles passed the Senate and Assembly and was delivered to Governor.
The bill, which was introduced by Senator Jamaal T. Bailey, prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles. A New Jersey bill was also introduced to both the Senate and the Assembly. Dove and the co-founding members of the CROWN Coalition (National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty and Color Of Change) have voiced their support of the initiatives in all two states.
"For too long, narrow beauty standards in this country have perpetuated unfair scrutiny and injustice for hairstyles and textures inherent to Black identity and change is crucial," said Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever. "Through our work with the CROWN Coalition, Dove is proud to be creating a more equitable and inclusive experience for Black women and girls by advancing this important legislation in California, New York and beyond to put an end to hair discrimination."
For more information on the CROWN Act, see www.thecrownact.com.