California is now the first and only state that has created a law to protect natural hairstyles and outlaw racial discrimination based on ones hairstyle.
A bill called The Crown Act was passed unanimously in California’s Assembly and Senate and was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.
This bill will protect people in workplaces and K-12 public schools who choose to have natural hair styles. The new law goes into place on Jan.1, according to the LA Times.
The Crown Act, will strictly prohibit racial discrimination based on hair that continuously effect Black people. This act specifically will stop bans on certain styles, such as Afros, braids, twists, cornrows and dreadlocks.
Gov. Newsom saw the need for a bill like this after a Black teenage wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks off or forfeit a match. This hard decision forced the student to choose between two things, “lose an athletic competition or lose his identity,” Newsom told the LA Times.
“That is played out in workplaces, it’s played out in schools — not just in athletic competitions and settings — every single day all across America in ways that are subtle, in ways overt,” Newsom said Wednesday morning at the Capitol in Sacramento.
But The Crown Act’s name didn’t just happen over night, some thought was out into it. Crown is actually an acronym meaning, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, Vox News reported.
Supporters of the act say its acronym is just what the work place needs to open the doors of acceptance for all types of hair.
Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) who also has dredlocs, says this act will protect natural hairstyles without fear or repercussions in the work place. Students will be able to go to school, and employees can work freely without feeling the need to change their appearance for other’s “comfort level”, Mitchell said.
“For us, it is a symbol of who we are. I know when I locked 15 years ago, I knew it was both a social and political statement to the outside world,” she said.
This bill has sparked other states to create bills that are just like The Crown Act. New York and New Jersey adopted legislation similar to The Crown Act in June.