This article is in partnership with CROWN Act.
Picture this: You just got your locs freshly twisted for an interview. You're looking sharp, slaying with your responses to questions, and your resume is amazing. You're a hit when talking with the team set to become your new coworkers. You then get a call that they want you for the job, but you'd need to get rid of the locs. Company policy.
Think this is a story from 1965? Nope.
In 2021, the issue of natural hair in the workplace shouldn't be, well, an issue, right? Consider a few key stats: According to the Dove CROWN Research Study, Black women are still 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair, and 80 percent have expressed that they agree with the statement that they've had to change their natural hair to "fit in at the office."
Companies have even been protected by law in banning locs in the workplace, and there have been recent cases of schools dismissing or targeting students with braids, locs, or other natural styles deemed to be against policy or inappropriate. Talk about oppressive politics that teeter on the line of outright racism.
Well, a coalition of advocates, legal professionals, and politicians has been successful in combating the bully that is hair discrimination with the CROWN Act, which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair." It's legislation that prohibits race-based hair discrimination, including the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including locs, cornrows, box braids, twists or Bantu knots.
First introduced in January 2019 in California and signed into law in that state on July 3 of the same year, the inaugural CROWN Act expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Code in order to ensure that any employer or K-12 public and charter school could not penalize employees or students for their choice to rock their natural styles.
Led by the CROWN Coalition (which was founded by Dove, National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty), the CROWN Act movement has grown, gaining support from activists and other state legislators to make discrimination on the basis of wearing one's natural hair illegal nationwide. Thirteen states, in total, have signed the legislation into law, and the coalition continues to fight for further expansion to all other states.
Just let the thought of you wearing braids, curls, or a 'fro being the sole reason you're dismissed from a job or not even considered a viable candidate at all. Or how about the one where your daughter, son, niece, or nephew is sent home from school, missing out on a proper education and being embarrassed and mentally scarred all because an administrator or teacher decided to enforce some archaic and divisive rule that separates the normalcy their natural hair from that of others?
Just fathom, further, companies totally dominated by one version of Eurocentric "appropriateness," and devoid of independent expression and diversity? Oh, and these workplaces can legally enforce discriminatory practices, all under the guise of preference, policy, or propriety.
In some states, this is still a very tragic reality, especially when the company or school is privately owned and operated. With the Crown Act, your right to be treated equally as well as the positive benefit of ensuring that companies are diverse and free for employees to express themselves are both protected.
You can sign the petition to support the expansion of the Crown Act here, and on July 3, participate in the National CROWN Day celebration via a full day of virtual engagements, community connections, and the inaugural CROWN Awards. Find out more information on the festivities here.
You can also show your support by using #PassTheCrown on social. Lend your voice to ending hair discrimination across the U.S. today!
Featured image by Getty Images