Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau Introduces CROWN Act
COUNCILMEMBER BRIANNE K. NADEAU INTRODUCES CROWN ACT TO PROTECT RESIDENTS FROM HAIR DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race, today, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau introduced the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act of 2020. The legislation will amend the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act of 1977. The District’s Human Rights Act of 1977 currently protects against hair discrimination ‘including, but not limited to hair styles and beards’. The CROWN Act will explicitly add ‘protective hair styles’ to the Code of the District of Columbia and create a definition for the term to ensure that District residents are more fully protected.
"If racial justice is our collective goal, we have a responsibility to revisit even our most basic policies and amend them to more clearly align with those values,” said Nadeau. “We can not assume that residents are protected from discrimination under broad definitions.”
A 2019 research study conducted by Dove indicated that 80% of women feel like they need to change their hair to feel professional, fearing scrutiny and discrimination. Nadeau stated, “While I do not share this experience, it tells us that we have work to do to make our workplaces more welcoming and accepting, and it begins by ensuring people feel safe and empowered to wear their hair in natural or protective styles if they choose to do so.”
The legislation has broad support from the Council of the District of Columbia. Councilmember Nadeau is joined by 11 of her colleagues in introducing the CROWN Act.
“We should not discriminate against anyone because of their hair, hairstyle, or texture of their locs. We are all alike but different. Let’s celebrate our differences, and continue working to eradicate all forms of discrimination in the workplace,” said At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds.
At-Large Councilmember Robert White added, “Race-based hair discrimination is very present today. It is important to protect Black people, especially Black women, from the discrimination we face for wearing our hair in its natural state or in styles that reflect our heritage and culture. Rather than force conformity, we must respect and celebrate our differences.”
Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd shared, "For far too long, African Americans - in particular Black women - have been discriminated against and have been deemed 'unprofessional' because of the way they wear their hair. I'm proud to support this bill to reaffirm the right for all District residents to wear your hair however you want."
"The politicization of Black hair is historically rooted in systemic racism and inequity. Discrimination against natural hair is the blatant denial of an individual’s race, humanity, and self-dignity. Legislation is needed to ensure that no person suffers negative bias because of the curly, coiled, cornrowed, or dreaded crown on their head,” stated Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White.
On September 21, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal version of the CROWN Act legislation. Councilmember Nadeau will move the District’s CROWN Act through the local legislative process to ensure District residents are protected regardless of actions taken by the U.S. Senate. The legislation will be referred to the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Government Operations and has an expected hearing date of October 27, 2020.
The members co-introducing the CROWN Act are Councilmembers Anita Bonds, David Grosso, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brooke Pinto, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White.