CROWN Act passes City Council; protects Black employees from discrimination based on hair

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Photo via the national campaign site for The CROWN Act.

According to a study done by the CROWN Research Study, Black women are 30 percent more likely to be made aware of a formal workplace appearance policy and 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. Thankfully, this will soon change.

Tomorrow afternoon, Mayor Quinton Lucas will be signing an ordinance for the town of Kansas City. Entitled “CROWN Act”, it’s set to prohibit racial hair discrimination in employment and educational opportunities throughout Kansas City.

Introduced by Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson and Fifth District Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw, the new provision will let previously discriminated individuals embrace natural hair textures, such as braids and locks, without explicit judgment at school or in the workplace.

It passed through the city council just now.

“For far too long, Black women and men in our community and throughout our country have been discriminated against—particularly in workplace settings—for embracing their natural hair texture and styles,” said Lucas. “This ordinance will provide Kansas Citians long-overdue legal protection to celebrate their natural hair. 

The CROWN Act, short for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”, will strengthen discrimination policies and provide greater access to jobs, educational opportunities for Black Kansas Citians, while creating a more equitable and inclusive Kansas City for all of us.

“National surveys report 80 percent of Black women admitted they feel social pressure to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office,” said Monica Del Villar, Policy Associate for the ACLU of Missouri. “Bills like the CROWN Act look to ensure no one has to endure this type of humiliation and shame for expressing themselves through their natural hair and texture.”

The act passed through the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week. The right to wear your hair however you want is currently a law in California, Virginia, New York, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland.

Robinson is ecstatic that the city is recognizing the importance of racial reconciliation and committed to removing prejudice, citing the words of Shirley Chisholm.

“‘In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism,’” said Councilwoman Robinson. “We have a long way to go, but my hope is that Kansas City residents are increasing their confidence in their local government’s goal to improve the quality of life for all residents.”

Now applicable to all employers in Kansas City, it will be considered racial discrimination if someone is denied employment or educational opportunities because of their hair. Any violators of the CROWN Act will be fined.

“This is yet another example of ways racial discrimination, often through implicit bias, disproportionately affects members of our Black community,” said Lucas. “I appreciate Councilmembers Parks-Shaw and Robinson for leading the effort to dismantle this discriminatory regulation, and I look forward to signing our ordinance tomorrow.”

Categories: Politics