What Is The Crown Act
The CROWN Act stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act. It is legislation that aims to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles, including braids, locs, twists, and knots. The CROWN Act addresses the issue of racial discrimination that targets Black individuals due to their natural hair or hairstyles that are associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.
What Is The Purpose Of The CROWN Act
The CROWN Act aims to address the longstanding discrimination and oppression faced by Black individuals, particularly women, due to their natural hair and hairstyles. This discrimination often forces Black individuals to conform to White beauty standards, impacting their self-perception and societal interactions.
The Act provides legal protection against hair discrimination in various settings, including workplaces, schools, and daily life. It seeks to ensure that Black individuals can embrace their natural hair without fear of prejudice or bias.
The CROWN Act also serves as an affirmation of Black culture and identity. It recognizes the cultural significance of Black hair and hairstyles and aims to celebrate and uplift Black individuals’ choices regarding their hair.
The Act highlights the negative impact of hair discrimination in educational settings, where Black students, especially girls, face policing and bias due to their hair. The CROWN Act seeks to create more inclusive educational environments where Black students can express themselves freely.
The CROWN Act: A Revolutionary Legislation
The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or CROWN Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that aims to provide legal backing for Black individuals, both women and men, to wear their natural hair without the fear of facing discrimination, disciplinary actions, or exclusion from schools, workplaces, or public spaces. This legislation emerges as a response to the pervasive issue of “hairism” – a form of discrimination that favors certain hair types and textures, particularly those that align with White beauty standards, which typically emphasize long, straight, and silky hair. In contrast, the CROWN Act recognizes and legally supports the right of Black individuals to choose hairstyles that resonate with their cultural identity, reflecting their moods, life circumstances, and personal preferences.
Historical Context and The Combahee River Collective Principles
The principles established by the Combahee River Collective in 1977 serve as a foundation for advocating for a national CROWN legislation. These principles emphasize the interconnected nature of various forms of oppression that Black women face, including racism, sexism, and hairism. The Collective’s principles highlight the continuous oppression Black women have historically endured and the need to eradicate its lingering influence.
The Combahee River Collective underscores that different forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and hairism, are interconnected. These oppressions reinforce each other and collectively contribute to the overarching oppression of Black women.
The Collective acknowledges the historical documentation of the continuous oppression Black women have faced. It emphasizes the importance of understanding this history to effectively combat its ongoing impact.
The personal experiences of Black women, resulting from intersecting oppressions, are inherently political. These experiences arise from societal and governmental systems that perpetuate discrimination. As the subjects of this intersecting oppression, only Black women can genuinely recognize, understand, or explain these experiences. They are also the ones most invested in ending the inequalities they face.
The CROWN Act, while revolutionary, is a necessary legislative intervention in a society where Black individuals, especially women, routinely face discrimination due to their natural hair and hairstyles. By legally recognizing and challenging hair discrimination, the Act aims to create a more inclusive and equitable society where Black individuals can freely express their cultural identity through their hair without fear of prejudice or bias.
What Is The Combahee River Collective In 1977
The Combahee River Collective (CRC) was formed in 1974 by Black feminists who felt that the larger feminist movement did not adequately address the unique struggles faced by Black women. The name “Combahee River Collective” was chosen in honor of a guerrilla action conceptualized and led by Harriet Tubman on the Combahee River in South Carolina in 1863, which freed more than 750 slaves.
Key Principles: The CRC is best known for its “Combahee River Collective Statement,” published in 1977. This document is a key text in the history of contemporary Black feminism and the feminist movement as a whole. Some of its central principles include:
The CRC introduced the concept of “interlocking oppression” (now more commonly referred to as “intersectionality”). They emphasized that Black women faced multiple, interconnected forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism.
The CRC is credited with pioneering the idea of “identity politics.” They believed that Black women’s liberation is inherently tied to their unique identities and experiences as Black women. They argued that mainstream feminism and the Civil Rights Movement did not fully address the specific needs and struggles of Black women.
The CRC emphasized the importance of Black women defining and valuing themselves, rather than being defined and devalued by oppressive societal structures.
The CRC was committed to addressing a broad range of issues affecting Black women, including reproductive rights, sexual assault, domestic violence, and economic injustice.
The Combahee River Collective played a crucial role in highlighting the unique challenges faced by Black women and advocating for their rights. Their work laid the groundwork for contemporary intersectional feminism and has had a lasting impact on feminist theory and activism.
The CRC’s emphasis on the interconnectedness of various forms of oppression has been influential in shaping contemporary understandings of intersectionality, a term later coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s. The idea that one’s various identities (race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.) intersect and create unique experiences of oppression and privilege is now a foundational concept in feminist and social justice movements.
The Combahee River Collective was a pioneering force in the feminist movement, emphasizing the unique struggles and experiences of Black women. Their work has left a lasting legacy, influencing contemporary feminist thought and activism and introducing key concepts like intersectionality and identity politics.
The Crown Act In Action
Darryl George, a 17-year-old student at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, found himself at the center of a significant controversy when he was suspended for more than three weeks. The reason for his suspension was his loc hairstyle, which he often styled in braids or a ponytail. The school officials claimed that Darryl’s hairstyle violated the Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code for male students. While the policy did not explicitly prohibit students from wearing locs or braids, it imposed limitations on hair length for male students. Specifically, the policy stated that hair should not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down.
In response to the suspension, Darryl and his mother took legal action, suing Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s attorney general. They alleged that these state officials were neglecting their duty to enforce Texas’s CROWN Act. The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law designed to protect individuals from hair discrimination. This law specifically prohibits discrimination against hair textures and protective hairstyles, such as locs and braids, which are historically associated with race.
The lawsuit filed by Darryl and his mother argued that the suspension was a clear violation of the CROWN Act. They sought an injunction against the state officials, urging them to prevent the school district from imposing disciplinary actions on students due to hairstyles that exceed the district’s length requirements.
School District’s Response
The Barbers Hill Independent School District, in response to the lawsuit and the surrounding controversy, sought clarification from a Texas court regarding the CROWN Act’s applicability to its dress code. The district believed that the new law did not govern hair length and requested the judicial system’s interpretation.
Adding another layer to the story, Darryl’s family revealed that his locs held deep cultural and familial significance. They were intertwined with strands from his grandfather and father, symbolizing a bond and shared heritage. The family expressed their firm intention not to cut them off, regardless of the school’s demands.
This incident was not the first time the Barbers Hill Independent School District faced legal challenges over its hair policy. In 2020, two other students, DeAndre Arnold and another represented by Cindy Bradford, faced similar issues due to their loc hairstyles. Both students were asked to cut their hair to comply with the district’s policy. DeAndre Arnold was even told that he would be barred from participating in his graduation ceremony if he did not cut his locs. Instead of complying, Arnold transferred to a different school district. Later, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction, preventing the district from enforcing its hair-length policy against Bradford’s son.
Darryl George’s case underscores the broader issue of hair discrimination that many Black students face in educational institutions. While laws like the CROWN Act aim to address such discrimination, their interpretation and enforcement can vary across districts and states. Darryl’s situation serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing challenges Black students face and the need for clear, inclusive policies that respect cultural expressions.
Legal Repercussions Of The CROWN Act:
Employers who discriminate against employees or potential employees based on their natural hair or protective hairstyles can face legal consequences. This means that an employer cannot refuse to hire, promote, or even fire an individual solely because of their hair. If an employer is found guilty of such discrimination, they could face penalties, lawsuits, and damage to their reputation.
Educational institutions, including schools and colleges, are also prohibited from discriminating against students based on their hair. This means that schools cannot suspend, expel, or otherwise penalize students for their natural hair or protective hairstyles. Schools that violate this provision can face legal actions, potential loss of funding, and public backlash.
The CROWN Act also extends to public accommodations, ensuring that individuals are not denied services or treated unfairly in public spaces because of their hair. This includes places like restaurants, hotels, theaters, and other public venues.
While the CROWN Act has been introduced at the federal level, its enforcement and specific repercussions vary by state. As of now, several states have adopted their versions of the CROWN Act, each with its penalties for violations. For instance, in California, which was one of the first states to implement the CROWN Act, businesses and schools found in violation can face financial penalties.
Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against based on their hair can file a civil rights lawsuit against the offending party. If successful, the discriminating party may be required to pay damages, change their policies, and take corrective actions.
Many states that have adopted the CROWN Act also emphasize the importance of awareness and training. Employers and educational institutions may be required to undergo training to understand the significance of the CROWN Act and ensure that they are compliant.
The CROWN Act represents a significant step forward in recognizing and combating hair discrimination, which has historically targeted Black individuals. The legal repercussions of violating the CROWN Act serve as a deterrent to potential discriminators and provide a recourse for those who have been discriminated against. As more states adopt this legislation, it is hoped that hair discrimination will become a thing of the past, allowing individuals to express themselves freely without fear of prejudice or bias.
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