In December 2018, a white referee forced Andrew Johnson, a New Jersey high school student to cut off his locs to compete in a wrestling match.
A year later, Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Governor signed a law banning hair discrimination. This law is known as The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.
It amends the race discrimination law to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.”
This law makes it illegal in New Jersey to target people at the workplace, schools or in public spaces based on hair texture and hairstyles.
Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Governor said:
“Race-based discrimination will not be tolerated in the State of New Jersey.
No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or be discriminated against because of their natural hair.
I am proud to sign this law to tohelp ensure that all New Jersey residents can go to work, school, or participate in athletic events with dignity.”
Cory Booker, United States Senator from New Jersey:
“I’m grateful to Governor Murphy for signing this important legislation and applaud Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who led the CROWN Act and Crown Coalition advocate Adjoa B. Asamoah, who worked tirelessly to end the implicit and explicit biases against natural hair.
Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people and no one should be denied a job, an education, or face discrimination because of their hairstyle.”
Rachel Wainer Apter, Director, New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said:
“We’re pleased that the Governor and the Legislature have codified the interpretation set out in our guidance document from earlier this year: Race discrimination includes discrimination based on traits inextricably intertwined or closely associated with race, including hairstyle.
Employers, housing providers, and places open to the public, including schools, cannot police natural black hairstyles.”
Senator Sandra B. Cunningham said:
“I am proud to see New Jersey become just the third state in the nation to put an end to this discriminatory practice. This law will ensure people of color are free to wear their hair however they feel best represents them, whether that be locks, braids, twists or curls. No one should ever be told it is ‘unprofessional’ to embrace their culture.
It is unacceptable that someone could be dismissed from school or denied employment because they wear their hair exactly how it grows, but that has been the reality for many black and brown individuals. Today, here in New Jersey, we’ve changed that.”
“We should not tolerate discrimination in any form and this law protects the civil rights of all peoples,”
Senator Shirley K. Turner said:
“In the last few years, we have seen several cases in New Jersey and around the country where children were sent home from school, or denied participation in extracurricular activities because of how they choose to wear their hair.
Hair discrimination policies, rooted in Eurocentric beauty standards, have no place in our schools or our workplaces. It is time we get rid of them once and for all.”
Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight said:
“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for African-Americans and people of color to be subjected to discrimination at work or school for wearing their hair in braids, twists, and dreadlocks or embracing their natural curls,”
A student at Buena Regional High School in New Jersey was forced by a referee at a wrestling tournament to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match to comply with association rules. With this law, the student would have been protected from this kind of discrimination.”
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson said:
“If a person of color wants to embrace their cultural identity by wearing their hair in a certain style, they should be free to do so without fear of prejudice.
No one should be told to straighten, cut or change their hair in any way to meet certain norms. It’s time we enshrine these values into our law.”
“It’s almost unbelievable to think that in 2019, people face discrimination because of the way they wear their hair, or because of how their hair naturally looks,”
“For many people, their hair is a reflection of who they are, and everyone should have freedom to be who they are, and be protected from racial bias.”
Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake said:
“Every person in New Jersey, regardless of their race, should be able to wear their hair with dignity and without discrimination,”
“This law seeks to give added protections to communities of color and prevent prejudice and discrimination in the workplace and in the hiring process.”
Amol Sinha, Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said:
“We thank Governor Murphy and the legislature for passing the CROWN Act in this historic week of legislation that is affecting the lives of New Jerseyans in general and New Jerseyans of color in particular,”
“While natural hair might seem like an irrelevant front in the never ending battle against discrimination, we know that hair discrimination is too often used as a proxy for racism in ways that directly impact the success of people of color in schools, courtrooms, and board rooms.
Adding hair discrimination to the protections offered in the Law Against Discrimination is an influential recognition of the myriad ways that racism expresses itself and provides people with a powerful tool to combat it.”
CURLYTREATS will continue to update news about The CROWN Act.
For full information see: The Official Campaign of the CROWN Act