Bill Bans Discrimination Against Black Hairstyles
CROWN Act expands racial discrimination protections to hairstyles like braids, locs, twists.
Black people couldn’t be discriminated against because of their hairstyles under a bill being considered by Wisconsin state lawmakers.
The bill, sometimes known as the “CROWN Act,” would ensure racial discrimination protections in state law for things like employment, housing and education would be expanded to include “traits historically associated with race,” including hair texture and hairstyles like braids, locs and twists.
“In workplaces throughout the nation, including in our state, grooming standards and policies that were thought to be race neutral often inadvertently discriminate against people of color,” Myers said during committee testimony Tuesday. “What this bill does is promote equity and provide equal footing and level the playing field for people of color in the workplace.”
Another sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said she has worried about the effect of her hairstyles on her professional life.
“I did question whether my hair would stop me from getting a good grade, an internship, employment offers, a promotion, or even what view someone might have of me when I knocked on the door to ask them to vote for me,” Taylor said.
A 2020 study from Duke University found Black women with natural hairstyles, including Afros or braids, are often perceived as less professional than Black women with straightened hair, especially in certain industries.
However, during debate, Rep. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, said some have raised concerns about lawsuits claiming hair discrimination when it didn’t happen.
Supporters argue other states with the law already in place haven’t seen an influx of lawsuits.
Current state law bars race-based discrimination in housing, education, service as a juror, adoption, and “the equal enjoyment of a public place of accommodation or amusement,” as well as in insurance and banking services. The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is also prohibited from investing in companies that practice racial discrimination.
The bill has yet to be voted on in an Assembly or Senate committee.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Bill Would Ban Discrimination Against Black Hairstyles In Wisconsin was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.