House passes CROWN Act to ban hair-based discrimination

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed legislation aimed at banning hair-based discrimination.

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN, Act, comes in response to what the bill’s supporters say is a major problem black Americans face: discrimination in the workplace and other areas of life due to their hairstyles.

“Here we are today, standing on behalf of those individuals — whether my colleagues on the other side recognize it or not — who are discriminated against as children in school, as adults who are trying to get jobs, individuals who are trying to get housing, individuals who simply want access to public accommodations and to be beneficiaries of federally funded programs,” the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, said on the House floor Friday, according to NBC News.

According to Watson Coleman, there are many people “who think because your hair is kinky, it is braided, it is in knots or it is not straight and blonde and light brown, that you somehow are not worthy of access to those issues.”

The CROWN Act, which passed largely along party lines in a 235-189 vote, addresses this form of “discrimination.”

“This bill prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin,” the bill’s summary reads. “Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment.”

“Persons shall not be deprived of equal rights under the law and shall not be subjected to prohibited practices based on their hair texture or style,” the bill adds.

Fourteen Republicans joined with their Democratic colleagues to support the legislation.

However, some conservatives said this sort of legislation is not what lawmakers ought to be focusing on right now.

“Fourteen months of chaos and we’re doing a bill on hair,” Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said, The Washington Times reported. “I think the American people expect more from their Congress, expect more from their elected representatives, and I hope we can actually focus on things that matter to the American people.”

Fox News host Jesse Watters said Democrats are simply trying to pander to black voters.

“But it’s obvious what the Democrats are doing — they’re just pandering to black voters,” he said Wednesday.

“We didn’t bring the rent down, the price of gas down, the price of food down, or crime down. We’re going to make your hair a protected class. Get your priorities straight, guys.”