GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill banning racial discrimination against hair textures and styles in employment, schools and housing has passed a hurdle in the state legislature. It’s called the CROWN Act. The Senate approved the bill that is already active in 20 states.
The CROWN Act stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.”
If passed, Senate Bill 90 would amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 forbidding discrimination practices and policies.
“How you or I choose to wear our hair doesn’t reflect the job we can do,” said Chiqueta Moore, the owner and stylist at Studio 536 & Imagery Hair Design Studio.
Historically, African American or Black hair has been considered unprofessional, leaving people with the ultimatum of changing their natural hair in order to get a job, housing or even be accepted in school.
“It can be very devastating and traumatizing to us,” said Greater Grand Rapids NAACP President Cle Jackson.
Jackson said the CROWN Act is a bill that is needed to protect natural hair.
“Our focus is to eliminate any form of race-based discrimination and clearly hair texture and hair authenticity is a big issue and it has been a big issue not just in the state of Michigan, but nationally,” said Jackson.
Being authentic in your own skin and natural hair texture can be a hard field to navigate for Black people and minorities in the workplace.
Chiqueta Moore owns Studio 536, which specializes in braids, locks, extensions and color and Imagery Hair Design Studio a unisex salon with a wide range of services.
“Ideally we shouldn’t have to deal with this in 2023, but the fact that somebody is making a stance so that we now longer have to in the workplace is majorly important,” says Moore.
Racial discrimination against hair types impacts people of all socioeconomic groups.
“It was very interesting some of the comments that I got in the corporate space and they were like, ‘Oh, your hair is nice something has changed with that? You are letting your hair grow,'” said Jackson. “Then I said, ‘It’s just natural,’”
“I got other comments from folks that would say, ‘Well, you should cut your hair,’” Jackson said.
People of all ages can be discriminated against for their hair style or texture.
“Absolutely younger guys are always judged when they wear braids or any kind of locks,” said Moore. “So I’m thinking that could be eliminated because their personality and character has nothing to do with them choosing a style for two weeks.”
People often change their hairstyles due to required maintenance.
“Oh my goodness, it’s a job in itself. Our hair requires a lot of maintenance and a lot of money for different products so that you can maintain it and it’s a lot of time and effort. And a lot of it is a part of who we are,” Moore said.
The CROWN Act will support a large number of people who have suffered for years.
“In some states, some laws are moving backwards so I guess we need this enacted so that we can continue to move forward,” said Moore.
“We are hopeful that it will pass through the House and Governor Whitmer’s desk and that she will sign it,” said Jackson.
The next step for the Michigan CROWN Act is the bill heads to the Michigan House for a vote and if it passes, it will be handed over to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature. If she signs it, the CROWN Act will become law to ban discrimination against natural hair in Michigan.