California Senate passes bill to stop discrimination towards natural hair


Black women have been historically criticized for their natural hair. Today, they find power in embracing how they choose to wear their hair, natural or otherwise. (File Photo)

Gabe Carlos

On April 22, the California State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 188, also known as the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, which protects students and employees from discrimination based on natural hairstyles including afros, braids and twists.

According to the USA Today, the CROWN Act allows students and employees to add any textures and styles to their hair and will also ban schools and workplaces that would forbid dress codes for certain hairstyles.

The author of the bill, California Senator Holly J. Mitchell, (D-Los Angeles), said she had seen enough of black children being sent home, as well as job applicants discriminated against, because of their natural hair.

“There are far too many cases of black employees and applicants denied employment or promotion,” Mitchell said on the Senate floor on April 22.

In an email to the Current, American River College’s Public Information Officer Scott Crow spoke on the matter of SB 188 on behalf of the Los Rios Community College District.

American River College and all of the Los Rios colleges are supportive of any legislation that is consistent with our values and commitment to social justice,” Crow wrote in the email. “Our understanding is that this proposed bill would add clarification to portions of the state Education Code, so we are supportive of any efforts to eliminate discrimination.”

The bill was set in place in response to people getting kicked out of school and work because of their natural hair or how they choose to style it.

Sixteen-year-old athlete Andrew Johnson was forced to choose between cutting off his dreadlocks or forfeit just before a wrestling match at Buena Regional High School in New Jersey on Dec. 19, 2018. According to CNN, the referee said his hair and headgear was not compliant with league regulations, and that Johnson told the referee he could push his hair back but the referee didn’t allow it, saying, “it wasn’t in its natural state.”

ARC communications major Imani Jordan, who currently has her hair down with black and blue braids, had heard about SB 188 but didn’t know much about the details.

“I believe that there are people that come from different cultures and backgrounds and people have different designs that they want on their head and that should have been protected since day one,” Jordan said.

Janae Aliana, a theatre major who wears her hair in red braids, said that she is happy the bill went into place and that it shouldn’t matter the way people display their hair.

“I don’t think they should’ve had to do that in the first place, because you are who you are rather than your hair, your gender or your disability, it doesn’t matter,” Aliana said.

The bill will go to the California State Assembly next.