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The “Hair Love” Movement: Three States Move To Implement Bills To Ban Hair Discrimination

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Texas high school student Deandre Arnold first made news after he was suspended over his dreadlocks and told that he needed to cut them in order to be allowed to graduate with his classmates. And Arnold is only one example of dozens of cases of hair discrimination that have made the news, but thankfully, many states have taken a step to make sure that never happens again. 

In just one week, three states have considered bills to ban discrimination based on hair texture or style as part of a national effort known as the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair). 

The law, which prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle of texture, was first signed into law last year by Governor Gavin Newsom in California in July and has since been implemented in New york, New Jersey. Recently Colorado, Washington State and Minnesota joined them in passing similar legislation to protect people with hairstyles and textures including Afros, braids, locks and twists.

The whirlwind of action around such bills comes after the short movie “Hair Love”—which tells the story of a Black father who struggles to do his daughter’s hair—won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Deandre Arnold and his mother were invited to attend the award show as the guest of the movie’s director Matthew A. Cherry.

“Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, and we wanted to normalize Black hair,” Cherry shared in his acceptance speech. “There’s a very important issue that’s out there, the CROWN Act, and if we can help get this passed in all 50 states, we can help stories like Deandre Arnold’s to stop from happening.”

Twenty-two additional states are considering the CROWN Act and have either pre-filed, introduced or officially announced their intention to implement their own anti-hair discrimination bills. Local jurisdictions like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have passed legislation, as well.

Alexandra Tirado Oropeza is a Venezuelan journalist covering politics, immigration, entertainment and social justice. She moved to the U.S. in 2014 to pursue a Writing degree at The University of Tampa, and after graduating, she moved to Los Angeles where she works in broadcast and as a freelance writer. She’s passionate about equality, freedom of speech, art and dogs.