Rep. Watson Coleman and members of the Congressional Black Caucus urge Senate leaders to include the CROWN Act in year-end legislation

Rep. Watson Coleman and members of the Congressional Black Caucus urge Senate leaders to include the CROWN Act in year-end legislation

WASHINGTON, DC (December 15, 2022) – Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) led a group of her Congressional Black Caucus colleagues in a letter calling on Senate leadership to include Congresswoman’s CROWN Act in its end of year-long omnibus funding legislation.

The CROWN Act would prohibit 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. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against people participating in federal assistance programs, housing programs, public housing and employment. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), blocked passage of the bill.

The letter reads in part:

It’s not “just a matter of hair”, it’s a matter of civil rights. Discrimination based on hair remains a source of racial injustice with serious economic consequences for black people. Yet current interpretations of civil rights law often limit anti-discrimination protections to skin color, but not hair. This continues to make many black people vulnerable to discriminatory practices.

Many black people face discrimination in school, work and elsewhere because the way their hair naturally grows out of their heads is deemed “unacceptable” or “unprofessional.” Specifically, black women are 1.5 times more likely than white women to be fired from work because of their hair.

The letter continues:

The CROWN Act fills the gaps in current anti-discrimination legislation. This bill would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s hair style or texture by including an individual’s hair style that is tightly coiled or very curly, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, bantu knots, afros and any other hair style commonly associated with race or national origin in the definition of racial discrimination.

The letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is signed by Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Stacey E. Plaskett (VI -AL), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Henry “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Kweisi Mfume (MD-07), GK Butterfield (NC-01), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Val Demings (FL-10), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bobby Scott (VA-03), Andre Carson (IN-07), Al Green (TX-09), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).

The letter is attached to this email and can be read here.

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