Michigan Latest State to Make the CROWN Act Law
Monday, June 26, 2023
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the CROWN Act into law this month, she tweeted she is "proud to take action to make Michigan a more equitable and inclusive place."
The CROWN Act expands civil protections against discrimination based on a person's hair texture or hairstyle. It means companies and schools will need to consider such factors in their dress codes and appearance policies.
Romona Hall, who retired from a career at Michigan Bell, said she has been frustrated over the years as Black people, especially women, have had little choice about what they could do with their hair in order to feel accepted on the job.
"Because of the fact that we couldn't wear our natural hair, we had to end up getting perms," Hall explained. "Perms have messed up our hair. So now, because of that, we're suffering."
"For far too long, we know that hair-based discrimination has been used to deny equal opportunity for Black Americans. No more here in Michigan," Gov. Whitmer said as she signed the CROWN Act into law. More than 20 states and even more cities have enacted their own similar laws and ordinances.
The denial of employment or educational opportunities based on natural and protective hairstyles -- like Afros, braids or twists -- is now prohibited in Michigan. Hall pointed out she has not noticed concerns about people's hair of any other race or ethnicity.
"We should have been able to wear our hair however we wanted to wear it, as long as it was decent," Hall asserted. "I think our culture is the only culture where they've had a problem with our hair."
In a 2019 study, 80% of African American women said they felt they needed to change their hairstyle in order to meet "more conservative standards" at work.
CROWN stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair."
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