The House has passed a bill to prohibit discrimination based on hair

WASHINGTON – Black people who wear natural hair styles such as afro, cornrose or tightly coiled twists should not face discrimination in society, school and the workplace, the House said in a vote Friday, saying such discrimination violates federal civil rights law. .

“There are people in this society who think that because your hair is itchy, braided, braided or straightened, it is not blonde and light brown, you are not accessible in any way,” said Democratic Republican Bonnie Watson Coleman, chief sponsor of the bill, on the House floor. During the debate. “Okay, that’s discrimination.”

The House voted 235-to-189 to ban discrimination based on hair texture and hair styles, with hair tightly coiled, curled, or worn with locks, cornro, twists, braids, bantu knots, or aphrodisiacs. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. President Joe Biden has already said that he will sign the bill known as the Crown Act.

All but 14 Republicans voted against the measure, calling it unnecessary and misleading. They say that protection against hair discrimination already exists in a number of federal laws.

“Democrats are focused on that,” said Ohio Republican Jim Jordan. “Fourteen months of chaos and we’re making a bill on the hair.”

House Democrats, however, noted that, in a number of cases, judges have dismissed civil rights cases on the grounds that the law does not directly cover discrimination on the basis of hair. House Bill makes it clear that hair is actually included.

Proponents point to a 2019 study by Dove that showed that one in five black women working in the office or in sales settings said they needed to change their normal hair. The study also found that black students are more likely to be suspended for dress code or hair violations.

Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, began working on the proposal after two incidents of discrimination became national headlines. One involves Maya and Dina Cook from Malden, Massachusetts.

In 2017, the twin sisters were asked by their high school to remove the braids from their boxes. They refused, saying the policy was discriminatory and unequal. School administrators told them that the ban on hair extensions was designed “to nurture a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism.”

For refusing to comply, Diana, a runner who qualified for the state finals, was dropped from the school track team. Maya was removed from the softball team and said she would not be able to attend the promo.

“It’s a shock to know who you are, how old you are, what you are – when people hate a certain group, they don’t care. They will treat you like this, “Dena Cook told the Associated Press in an interview.” That’s why we need the Crown Act because kids are being hurt so badly. “

The Massachusetts Attorney General finally took action and instructed the school authorities to abandon the rule, which they did. But Maya and Dina, now college students, say the traumatic experience stays with them.

“You hope your school administration will be behind you, rooting for you and encouraging you,” says Maya Cook. “And for us, it was the complete opposite – they’re trying to destroy you.”

In a December 2018 incident in New Jersey, a high school student was forced to choose between losing his wrestling game or cutting off his dreadlocks. Andrew Johnson, then 16, cut his hair on the courtside and went on to win the match. But he was visibly upset by what happened.

“I’ll tell you, it was heartbreaking to watch,” Coleman said. “But the fact that he endured that humiliation, that humiliation of the public, and went on to win the match at once, says a lot about the character of that young man.”

More than a dozen states have already passed laws aimed at prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, housing, schools and the military.

An Associated Press investigation documented how some black female service members faced positional discrimination, navigating a culture that often labeled them “aggressive or difficult” and their normal hair as unprofessional or unprofessional.

Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey, the main patron of the Senate, said the bill should ensure that all people can “wear their hair with pride without fear or favor.”

“No one should be harassed, punished or fired for their natural hair style which is true for themselves and their cultural heritage,” Booker said.

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