The Crown Act: Addressing Racial Discrimination

PORTSMOUTH, Virginie (WAVY) – When you think of discrimination, a few words may spring to mind: race, gender and age… but what about hair?

A Colombe study 2019 shows that a black woman is 80% more likely than a white woman to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.

He also revealed that black women are one and a half times more likely than white women to be fired from the workplace because of their hair.

Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-District 70) says such statistics have led her to pushing a hair discrimination bill called The Crown Act in Virginia law a year ago.

“I think this tells Virginians that there is no way people should be discriminated against. But when you talk about certain people, certain parts of who I am is who I am. It shouldn’t prevent me from doing some of the tasks ahead of me or from advancing to managerial positions or for any other reason, ”said McQuinn.

The Crown Act was first introduced in California in January 2019 and enacted several months later.

The Crown Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination based on race. It means denial of employment and education opportunities due to hair texture or protective hairstyles, including braids, locs, twists or Bantu knots.

“The way I wear my hair shouldn’t create a situation for me where I’m not accepted,” McQuinn said.

McQuinn tells 10 On Your Side that she’s been natural for 8-9 years. When she first made the transition, she says she received some setback, even from her family, but admired younger ones than she did.

“It was the younger generation, when I saw them start to come to terms with who they are, wearing their natural hair in these different styles, I was like ‘you are my inspiration,'” said a smiling McQuinn.

McQuinn says hair discrimination is a heartbreaking reality entrenched in society.

“My granddaughter came to me, and she was about 4 years old, she said ‘I want to be white with the hair down’ and that killed me completely,” McQuinn said.

“We have to do everything we can to help little black girls feel that kind of self-confidence and self-worth,” McQuinn added.

This includes little black girls such as 13-year-old Nia Saunders, who remembers her hair being mocked by another student.

“He was like, ‘oh, looks like she got electrocuted by lightning’ because I used up my hair,” Saunders said.

Saunders says her family has always embraced her natural hair, but a quick online search reveals what others have set as the norm.

“I think there is a gap. The difference is if you search for hairstyles in general you will see hairstyles for white women versus you have to do the extra thing and type hairstyles for black girls, ”Saunders said.

Saunders says she personally feels more beautiful with her natural hair than slicked back, and she hopes others her age can kiss their hair as well.

Working to help girls and women feel confident about themselves is the CEO of Beauty Queen Style, Shallen Jones. Jones has a newly opened salon in Chesapeake specializing in natural hair care.

“Over the last few years we’ve gotten more information about naturalness, I think stylists are more and more in the foreground,” Jones said.

From waves to the kinkiest, curled locks, she thinks hairdressers should educate themselves on how to do it all.

“So that women of color, black women, could just show off exactly how they want to be seen in the world, it could be purple hair, it could be a puff, it could be a wash ‘n’ go, it could being a set of stems, it could be an updo with a set of stems, but whatever the case, she can get a compliment and get down to business, ”Jones said.

Jones, who has been natural her entire life, says she has seen more women switch to their natural hair in recent years.

“I would say the main reason I see is that maybe from childhood to adulthood they’ve never seen what the hair that grows out of their heads looks like, so they don’t know. not. “Do I have a wave? Do I have a loop? Do I have a spool? Do I have a zig zag? … So with everything that’s so prevalent on social media and you see women who work with you showing up for work sometimes, you just say I can see myself in this woman, ”Jones said.

Crown law has been considered in 25 states, but as of April 2021, only 11 states have passed it.

“The conversation around the Crown Act is amazing. I think there are so many opportunities for states that have not aligned with the law to understand where a woman of color is from, where a black woman is from when she just wants to be able to show up to her. work like herself, ”Jones said.

“I encourage lawmakers across the country where this does not exist to do the same,” McQuinn added.

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