After years of nationwide reports of black students being sent home from school over braids or natural styles that violated dress code rules, California will become the first US state to ban discrimination against natural hair.
A bill voted unanimously, 69-0, by California's assembly, was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom's desk for signing into law. Until now, in the workplace, black employees have often reported unfair policies that describe natural hair as unhygienic and unprofessional. The bill has been referred to as the Crown (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act and was sponsored by Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell, who is black. Black hair has been controlled and policed for centuries. Even a Google image search for 'unprofessional hairstyles' yielded only pictures of Black women with their natural hair or wearing natural braids or twists.
For decades in the US, black women have used sometimes dangerous or damaging chemical methods to straighten their natural hair. "The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated 'blackness,' and the associated physical traits, for example, dark skin, kinky and curly hair to a badge of inferiority," the bill notes. New York and New Jersey have proposed similar legislation.