California has made a powerful legislative move as of late. The state is scheduled to become the first to ban hair discrimination. Senator Holly Mitchell has proposed the CROWN Act which was set to protect black employees and students from being sanctioned for wearing their natural hairstyles such as cornrows, dreadlocks, braids, and afros. If the bill were to pass, these hairstyles would be considered as part of the definition of race for the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. As such the latter currently prohibits discriminatory hiring and housing practices which are based on specific personal characters.
“Existing law defines terms such as race, religious beliefs, and sex, among others, for purposes of the act. This bill would provide that the definition of race for these purposes also include traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, and would define protective hairstyles for purposes of these provisions.” Hence, the bill would protect people from workplaces to K-12 schools from being forced to adopt what many consider to be “Eurocentric ideals” which are deeply entrenched in the “societal understanding of professionalism.” The bill has passed the Senate in April and was approved on June 27th. It now awaits the signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.