Pennsylvania lawmakers promote CROWN Act legislation banning discrimination against natural hair styles

Just days after the United States House passed legislation to provide federal protection against hair discrimination in schools and employment, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers on Thursday held a virtual press conference to promote their own bills.

Known as the CROWN Law, the House bill, adopted on Monday, would ensure that people cannot be discriminated against for choosing to wear their hair in styles such as afros, braids, locs, twists or knots. The acronym stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate.

Pennsylvania’s bills, introduced in State House in July and earlier this month in the Senate, would amend the Human Relations Act and clarify the term race to include features such as hair texture and protective hairstyles.

So far, seven states have passed similar CROWN laws, and State Representatives Joanna McClinton and Summer Lee and State Senator Vincent Hughes have pledged to make Pennsylvania the eighth.

Officials cited cases including that of Chastity Jones, a woman from Alabama who had a job offer as a customer service representative canceled when she refused to cut. his dreadlocks in 2010, and Andrew Johnson, a high school wrestler from New Jersey who was told he couldn’t compete unless his dreadlocks were cut in place in December 2018.

“It’s just another way blacks and brunettes are victimized for embracing their ethnic roots and going against what society has deemed normal,” said McClinton, chairman of the Democratic caucus of bedroom.

McClinton, who represents part of Philadelphia and Delaware County, said that for years black people had to consider the consequences of wearing their hair in natural styles, which were deemed unprofessional by some employers.

She and others said black people shouldn’t be forced to undergo drastic changes using either heated and straightening combs or chemical-based perms. Both methods damage the hair and scalp.

READ MORE: Wrestler Andrew Johnson forced to cut dreadlocks to avoid losing NJ high school game

“For too long hair discrimination has been the acceptable form of discrimination as we moved from Jim Crow to the civil rights movement,” said Lee (D., Allegheny).

“You can’t fire me for being a black woman, or gay, or a trans person, but there are subtle ways, and hair discrimination is one of them … We can’t afford to leave any more gaps. for systemic discrimination.

READ MORE: Philadelphia council member introduces bill to ban discrimination based on natural hairstyles

Adjoa B. Asamoah, Founder and CEO of ABA Consulting, who led the fight to pass CROWN Act laws across the country, joined the press conference.

“There is a long history and practice of racial discrimination based on hair in the United States. Said Asamoah, a graduate of Temple University.

In March, Philadelphia City Council member Cherelle L. Parker introduced a bill to make it illegal to discriminate against African Americans who wear their hair in natural styles.

David R. Brewer