CROWN Act prevents discrimination based on natural hair or texture

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Governor Hobbs signed an Executive Order for the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) which prevents discrimination against state workers and contractors based on their natural hair or texture.

A recent study found that more than 20% of Black women in their 20s and 30s have been sent home because they wore their hair naturally in the workplace (braids, locs, natural curls).

Dr. Neal Lester was at the signing and has long advocated and talked about hair-based discrimination. Essence Farmer used to own a natural hair salon. In 2002, she fought the state to allow natural hair stylists to practice without having to attend cosmetology school. She says while she has not been discriminated against for her hair, she has had unwanted touches of her hair and comments.

Horizon welcomes Dr. Lester and Essence Farmer to discuss the CROWN Act.

How common is discrimination toward textured hair?

“It’s pretty common, specifically in corporate America because it deems you as unprofessional. So, you have to conform to a standard in order for you to be able to do your job,” said Farmer.

Dr. Lester also points out that this discrimination is seen in school dress codes.

Is textured styled hair a trend in society today?

“There’s been several revolutions of natural hair exploding and women wanting to come back to their authentic selves. Back in probably 2003, you started to see another wave of this natural hair revolution where women decided that they wanted to, whether for health reasons or just for personal preference, wear their hair as it naturally grows out of their scalp,” said Farmer.

Nationwide approach

20 states have an act that prohibits discrimination based on natural textured hair in the workplace. But, what about the remaining 30?

“That means that there’s work to be done,” said Dr. Lester.

“An attack on identity,” said Farmer. Not being able to be feel welcomed in the workplace because of one’s hair is a common feeling many experience. Hopefully the act will counter feelings like this from now on.

Dr. Neal Lester and Essence Farmer

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