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Michigan lawmakers re-introduce CROWN Act legislation

The CROWN Act logo
The CROWN Act logo

Democratic Michigan lawmakers re-introduced a bill to ban discrimination against natural hairstyles, like braids, locks, and twists, Tuesday.

The policy, known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, or simply the CROWN Act, had been introduced in previous Legislative sessions but never made it to the governor’s desk.

Sponsor Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) said the bill would make things more inclusive for everyone.

“We know that hair discrimination is thinly veiled racial discrimination, and when we’ve heard stories from men and women and children who have experienced this, we wanted to make sure we prioritize it as early in the legislative session as possible, and what better month than Black History Month,” she said.

Supporters argue CROWN Act legislation fights back against beauty standards that reward straight hair but punish those with textured hair, especially Black women.

During a press conference Tuesday, speakers described feeling pressure to straighten their hair through flat ironing or potentially dangerous chemical treatments to appear more “professional” in the workplace.

Cameo King spoke alongsideLegislative Black Caucus members about her experience facing hair discrimination in the workplace. She shared a story of how multiple former bosses told her she wouldn’t find a job in broadcast television with her natural hair.

“You see, it never occurred to me that my hard work, dedication, and dedication to journalism and skill became null and void when met with my Black hair. Who know the sight of Black hair would restrict my career options,” King said.

Tuesday’s bill would expand how race is defined in Michigan civil rights law to include “traits historically associated with race," including hair and hairstyles.

Similar laws have been passed in over a dozen other states.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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