Oregon’s New CROWN Act Explicitly Bans Hair Discrimination
Oregon joined a number of states in 2021 in passing legislation banning racial discrimination in schools and the workplace. This bill has now entered into force.
House Bill 2935, known as the CROWN Act, stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” and promulgates policies first introduced and enacted in California in 2019.
The Oregon version changes existing laws against racial discrimination to include features such as hair texture and “protective hairstyles” such as braids, locs, Bantu knots, and twists. The new law allows anyone who believes they have been the victim of hair discrimination to file a written or verbal complaint against their workplace or school.
Meet our Mid-Valley:A student pushes her school to burst “the bubble in which we live”
“It is an act of self-esteem for the black community to be able to show up at work and school looking public like ourselves,” said one of the bill’s main sponsors, the Representative Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, after the bill was passed. âIt is time for people to speak out shamelessly. “
According to the CROWN Coalition, a group of national organizations founded by Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change, and the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a total of 14 states have passed the CROWN Act or legislation inspired by it.
The movement to protect hairstyles and hair texture first emerged after a black high school student was forced to cut his dreadlocks during a wrestling match in 2018. Similar stories made national headlines these last years.
In 2020, a black college student in Texas learned he couldn’t walk to graduation unless he cut off his dreadlocks. And in March 2021, a black Portland high school volleyball player also had to cut beads in her hair in order to play. A few months later, a high school softball player was also forced to cut her braids and remove her braids in North Carolina to participate in her senior night game.
“Hairdressing-based discrimination is rooted in racism,” Senator Law Frederick, D-Portland, said in a statement when the bill was passed. âTo regard a protective hairstyle or the wearing of a natural hairstyle as an indicator of his professionalism or his right to access opportunities is wrong. Black Oregonians should feel free to wear their hair however they see fit without negative consequences. ”