CROWN Act signed into Michigan law
It’s now illegal in Michigan to discriminate against someone because of their natural hair texture, and styles associated with it. That includes locs, braids, and twists.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the new law Thursday, adding protections for traits associated with race to Michigan's civil rights code.
She said the law is important both for the people who have endured discrimination, and for the state as a whole.
“I think it’s the right thing to do but beyond that, I think it’s a smart thing to do when we think about the future needs of our economy and growing our population. We want the world to know here in Michigan, you can build a great life and this is just one more step toward ensuring that,” Whitmer told reporters after the signing.
The new law is known as the “CROWN Act,” an acronym for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. Supporters say hair discrimination is simply racial discrimination by a different name.
The bill passed the Legislature with wide bipartisan support — the vote was 100-7 in the state House and 33-5 in the Senate — but critics have shared concerns over whether the bill language is too broad.
Stories like a little girl in Jackson being told she couldn’t take school pictures because of her red braids came up repeatedly during her bill’s journey through the Legislature as reasons why it’s necessary.
“To be pulled to the side and told that you’re not taking your pictures is devastating to a young child,” Doug Scott, the student’s father, said ahead of the bill signing Wednesday.
State Senator Sarah Anthony(D-Lansing) has introduced the legislation each session since she joined the Legislature in 2019.
The bill passed at the same time Anthony, who also serves as the Senate Appropriations Chair, is in the throes of budget season. She said she faced pressure to spend less time on her bill until after the budget had been worked out.
“It is convenient to slow down and to wait for issues that impact Black people. There will never be a time in which we will want to prioritize things that are unique to Black people, and particularly Black women,” Anthony said. She promised it was possible to succeed with both the budget and CROWN Act.
Now that it has passed in Michigan, Anthony is promising more legislation to meet the needs of the state’s Black residents.
“The CROWN Act has always been the floor. But the ceiling is all the other places that we want to create space and ensure that Black Americans, that all Michiganders, have a seat at the table. So, we’re not going to stop,” Anthony said.
At least 20 other states have passed their own versions of the CROWN Act.
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