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House passes ban on discrimination based on texture or style of hair

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lawmakers are a step closer to ending hair discrimination.

The CROWN Act — fully named the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020 — is making its way through the Capitol. It protects people’s right to wear their hair naturally at school and work.

Indiana U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, an Indianapolis Democrat, co-sponsored the bill. He and others want to put an end to lost job opportunities and school suspensions based on how people choose to wear their hair.

Inside the Kurlykoils hair salon, all curls are welcome. Outside, that’s not quite the same.

“Amongst other communities, they can’t believe that people actually deal with their hair deemed unprofessional the way it grows out of their head,” said Kurlykoils owner Britteny Davidson.

Davidson specializes in caring for natural hair. For years, hair deemed too ethnic could impact ones ability to move up in the social and economic hierarchy. While there’s been some improvements, hair discrimination remains. Black people are often on the receiving end.

“In our community we are not really shocked by that. Because there are stories — locally stories, nationally — that we see all the time where even the young man who cut his locks before a wrestling match,” Davidson said.

That’s why legislators drew up the CROWN Act. The U.S. House approved it Sept. 21.

“I’m happy that people are more aware of it,” said Davidson. “But I’m also sad that we even have to create a law to make sure people are still getting jobs, make sure people are still being treated fairly because of their hair.”

So far, seven states have adopted their own versions of the CROWN Act. Supporters urge the U.S. Senate to take action and pass the House bill. The Senate received the bill Sept. 22 and it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

“For generations, people of color, especially women, have been told that their God-given hair is somehow not good enough, or unprofessional, unkempt, or even threatening. Too many have lost jobs and other opportunities because the people in charge said ‘they didn’t have the right look.’ This widespread racial discrimination perpetuates inequality, and prejudiced notions of “respectability.”

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, an Indianapolis Democrat