CROWN Act: Michigan lawmakers push to end discrimination of natural Black hair

Many states have passed laws preventing discrimination based on natural hairstyle and texture, and Michigan lawmakers are pushing for the same here.

"We get our hair braided, we loc our hair, we twist our hair," said Jabrail Davenport Williams, the lead stylist at Happy to Be Nappy in Detroit. "You discriminate me because of how I wear my hair and you don’t know me at all."

At a press conference Tuesday, lawmakers discussed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN Act), which would work to ensure protection against discrimination by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles, such as braids, in the workplace and in public schools.

"Over the last few years, we have introduced and reintroduced with no action from the legislature," Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) said.

Black women are often the target of such discrimination.

"After having several conversations with the news director about improving my skills, he very directly said, ‘You won’t get a job in TV with your hair like that," said entrepreneur Cameo King, who has faced hair discrimination.

Those who push for natural hair say it’s beneficial in many ways and should be respected.

"Gets people hair from being processed and permed and pressed and broken down to growing and naturally strong and healthy," Williams said.

Lawmakers say some parts of Michigan like Detroit and Oakland County have adopted the CROWN Act in the absence of legislative leadership, but they are ready for the whole state to get on board.

"I think the time is now given that we finally have a Democratic majority that listens to the will of the people," Anthony said. "I hope that some of our Republican colleagues will get on board, but we’re going to move forward regardless."