Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker will introduce a bill on Thursday prohibiting race-based hair discrimination
The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act will target discrimination against natural or protective hairstyles frequently associated with a particular race, including specific hair textures and styles such as such as braids, twists or locs.
“Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people,” the New Jersey Democrat said in a statement. “Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country.”
“No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage,” Booker added.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D., La.) plans to introduce a similar bill in the House, joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), Marcia Fudge (D., Ohio), and Barbara Lee (D., Calif.).
This year, California and New York passed legislation prohibiting race-based hair discrimination, and around a dozen other states are reportedly considering doing so.
The hair discrimination issue has made several headlines in recent months. Booker took a particular interest in the issue after a high school wrestler from New Jersey, Andrew Johnson, was forced last year to cut his dreadlocks to comply with hair length regulations or face forfeiting a wrestling match. The referee subsequently faced accusations of racism.
Another incident involving allegations of racism turned out to be false. A sixth-grade girl claimed three white boys at her school physically attacked her, called her “ugly,” and cut off some of her dreadlocks. Later, however, she admitted that she had lied and made up the story.
Booker is currently battling sagging poll numbers with only 2 percent support according to the Real Clear Politics average of national polls.