The natural Black hair movement continues to thrive and evolve, and mainstream reactions to it continue to make headlines. From Matthew Cherry’s animated short film “Hair Love” about a father learning to do his daughter’s hair winning this year’s Oscar for Best Short to Texas student DeAndre Arnold being suspended and told him he’d be barred from walking at his graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks, natural Black hair remains a hot-button topic.
Seeking to outlaw discrimination against wearers of natural hair in Minnesota, Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-65A) has introduced the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) to the state legislature. The bill (HF 3103) would add a provision to the Minnesota Human Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles like locks, braids, twists, and natural textures from curls to coils.
“African American Minnesotans should be able to fully embrace who they are, and hairstyle is a significant part of their heritage. Unfortunately, rather than being able to feel proud, they often feel fearful of their employer because of how their hair looks,” said Rep. Moran.
“For me, it’s especially important that Black young people in our state can feel good about themselves. I’m hopeful this legislation will help end the implicit bias that too many Black Minnesotans face on a daily basis.”
A letter of support for the bill from the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage in Minnesota explains how natural hair discrimination impacts people of African descent:
“African Heritage women are 50% more likely to be sent home or know of a woman who has been sent home from the workplace because of her hair. Women of African Heritage are also 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet Eurocentric standards of appearance, social norms, or expectations at work.
The issue of hair discrimination is not solely regulated to women or the workplace. While research on this topic for other genders is still being explored, recent news reports of hair discrimination are becoming more prevalent for all genders.”
A hearing for the bill with public testimony was held on Thursday, Feb. 13.
No stranger to authoring Black hair legislation, last year Moran took on Black hair and entrepreneurship with a bill (HF140) to repeal cosmetology registration requirements for braiders.
At the time, she stressed the importance of owning your own narrative. “It’s really important for me and the People of Color Indigenous (POCI) Caucus here to bring the voices of our community into this body so that we are creating and educating our colleagues through a race-conscious lens around social, racial, economic and environmental justice issues,” Moran told the MSR.
If the CROWN Act is passed in Minnesota, the state would join New York and California in passing such laws. Five other states are considering similar laws to protect people wearing natural hairstyles.
Moran is set to introduce her bill to the judiciary committee sometime next week. Find more on the bill here.