CROWN Act aims to protect Black hairstyles

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Zhoee’ Williams

States and organizations around the nation have come together to provide legal protection to Black people against hair discrimination.

The CROWN Act is an acronym that stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. It was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in collaboration with then-California Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, guaranteeing particular hairstyles worn in the workplace and schools are legally protected from disciplinary punishment.

Dove conducted a research study in 2021 and found that because of their hair, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work.

“Wearing your hair naturally was shunned upon in a professional matter,” said Adrienne Brown, Human Resources Coordinator of Human Capital.

Brown said she wears her hair flat ironed because that is the most convenient way to style her hair for work. She said she remembers a time when she decided to try something new with her hair and was shocked by her coworker’s response.

“I was still discovering myself, so I decided to twist my hair and I wore it twisted forever. A white coworker walked up to me and asked, ‘Are you ever going to flat iron your hair again?’ Society is never going to accept women of color and their natural textures, so I learned to embrace whatever makes me happy,” said Brown.

A Minor Middle School teacher says he agrees with Brown and has experienced something similar.

“I used to try to wear my hair according to white norms at work but I never felt comfortable. It came to the point where I felt disconnected from my heritage and my authentic self,” said DeZell Plump.

Plump said he recognized how important it was to show his students, regardless of race, that “you can be the utmost professional and on top of your game regardless of your hairstyle.”

A Black hair professional believes that the CROWN Act will allow the Black community to grow confident in their natural curl pattern.

“The CROWN Act will allow sisters of color to reclaim their natural curls, create a new norm for our little princesses to embrace their natural beauty, and teach them to appreciate our culture,” said Latoya Simmons, who works at Shelton State Community College in the department of Salon and Spa Management.

According to thecrownact.com, only 14 states have passed the CROWN Act or have legislation inspired by the CROWN Act. The state of Alabama has no legislation protecting Black hair.

“We can now move away from the damaging pressing combs, flat irons, chemical relaxers, straightening treatments, wigs, and weaves which were used to restructure our curl patterns and worn to cover up our natural hair. We are ready for work by reclaiming our beauty one coil, one loc and one twist out at a time,” said Simmons.

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