Hair discrimination is addressed in a bill being considered by a Delaware State Senate Committee Wednesday.
The CROWN Act – Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair – would make it clear that Delaware does not accept a person’s appearance as being used as a weapon of harassment and discrimination, according to its sponsor State Senator Darius Brown, D- Wilmington. The measure (Senate Bill 32) would prevent students, workers, tenants and others from being subject to unequal treatment because of braids, locks, twists and other hair styles or textures historically associated with race.
“Delawareans of all races and ethnicities – but particularly people of color – should not have to wait any longer for the General Assembly to pass legislation that advances fairness, equity and justice in our state,” Brown said. “Black hair is a fundamental part of the Black experience. “This legislation will make it clear that the State of Delaware does not accept our appearance being used as a weapon of harassment and discrimination. We are proud of who we are as African Americans and will not allow ourselves to be shamed by insensitivity to our culture, our history or our hair styles.”
There have been high-profile incidents in several states involving hair style, including a high school wrestler in South Jersey who was forced to cut his dreadlocks to take part in a match.
“For as thrilled as I am to be the House prime sponsor of the CROWN Act, one must also wrestle with why there is a need to have such legislation,” Representative Kendra Johnson, D- Bear, said. “As a professional Black woman, having to worry about whether my hair was too ethnic was awful, yet I complied to assimilate as to ensure that I would get that job, or that my Caucasian colleagues didn’t view me in a less-than-favorable manner because of my natural, kinky, braided, or twisted hair-styles. If that meant getting my hair straightened or donning a wig because my natural hair is often thought of as unprofessional and the job interview was on the horizon, I did. So, I am thrilled, but I recognize that we still have work to do. This legislation alone signifies that truth.”