Lawmakers Consider Bill To Ban Discrimination Based On Natural Hair Styles


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State lawmakers are considering a bill to ban discrimination against people of color for wearing their natural hairstyles.

State Senators are looking to get Delaware to join at least 7 other states in embracing CROWN or creating a respectful and open workplace for natural hair.

This would prohibit discrimination against people who wear their natural hairstyles.

Afiya Mbilishak is a clinical psychologist and hairdresser who uses hair as an entry point into mental health services.

She says caring for dark hair is psychologically important because of the history of hair in black culture.

“In traditional African societies, hair represented a complex linguistic system for communicating pride, health, wealth and rights of way,” says Mbilishaka. “However, through acts of dehumanization towards enslaved Africans, European slave masters desecrated the crowns of our African ancestors by labeling their hair as fur or wool.

A survey by the CROWN and Dove coalition found that 80% of black women are more likely to change their natural hair to conform to social norms or expectations in the workplace.

Most public comments at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing supported the bill. Scott Kidner, chairman of the board of the First State Military Academy, was concerned that this would prevent the academy or JROTC programs from enforcing the military standard for hairstyles.

Adjoa Asamoah helped develop the national strategy for the passage of the CROWN Law. She says black people are often treated differently because they wear their natural hair or a traditional hairstyle.

“There is a long history of problematic hair-based racial discrimination in the United States,” she said. “This widespread form of discrimination includes dismissal, refusal of promotions and even the cancellation of job offers.”

California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019, and 6 other states have since followed suit. Just over a dozen other state legislatures have also introduced a similar bill.

The CROWN coalition is also pushing for federal law. The CROWN law was passed in the House of Representatives last year, but failed to pass through the Senate.

The committee returned the bill to the Senate on Wednesday and will take into account public consideration if any changes need to be made.

Roman Battaglia a body member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

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David R. Brewer