In 2019, California became the first state to pass The CROWN Act to make natural hair discrimination illegal. Since then, the bill has gained much-needed momentum, and numerous state legislations are following suit. Now, Tennessee is the latest state to put The CROWN Act in motion.
State senators unanimously passed the bill, which stands for Creating an Open and Respectful World with No Racism, with a vote of 28-0. The bill will now go to the Tennessee House of Representatives for a vote. Under the proposed law, employers and schools will be prohibited from discriminating against Black people who choose to wear their hair naturally or in protective styles.
Senator Raumesh Akbari led the charge and celebrated the vote on Instagram. "My mom is known as 'The Hair Doctor,' and growing up, I saw so many people find dignity & self-respect in being able to wear their hair naturally," Senator Akbari shared. "No one should be shamed or denied opportunities because of their natural hair, and that's what the #CROWNAct is all about."
Tennessee isn't the only Southern state making strides to end hair-based discrimination. In July 2020, Virginia became the first Southern state to make The CROWN Act law. Louisiana State Senate also passed The CROWN Act on May 3, moving the bill to the House for deliberation. Louisiana Senator Troy Carter, who championed the bill, shared that he hopes the House passes it "quickly." According to local news, the bill will go into effect if passed by the House on August 1.
The CROWN Act should be up for very little debate: Black people have been subject to discrimination, bias, harassment, and even death — far too many times — on the basis of physical appearance. Implementing The CROWN Act across the United States is a step in the right direction to creating a safer, more equitable world for Black people, and we're looking forward to seeing more states get on board.