The recent push towards natural hair style rights has been a longstanding issue in the United States. With the “CROWN Act” now passed in seven states, including most recently Louisiana, the conversation has only grown louder. The acronym “CROWN” stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” and the intentions of this act are as powerful as its name. It is an effort to recognize and protect the rights of people of color to wear their natural hair in all contexts, free from discrimination and prejudice.
In a country that has been historically dominated by Eurocentric standards of beauty, this push for natural hair rights has been long overdue. This has been particularly seen in places like work and educational institutions, where people of color have often been judged or penalized for wearing twists, dreadlocks, and other styles of natural hair that are culturally significant and expressive.
The CROWN Initiative is an effort to eradicate the biases that exist against natural hair, and an attempt to provide real recognition of its importance. This movement works to protect and validate the right of people of all colors, as well as those with disabilities, to wear various natural styles without fear of discrimination, while also understanding the importance of these hairstyles in self-expression, cultural identity, and community.
In the face of the current social climate, this initiative has resonated with people of color in particular, even inspiring the hashtag #CrownYourself in order to raise awareness. ThisThe fight for culturally and socially accepted natural hair styles has been a long fought one, and it’s only in recent times that the mainstream public has begun to recognize the particular importance and gravity of the effort for people of color. In the United States, this fight has been especially long and hard for African Americans who for generations were forced to conform to white beauty standards with often damaging and oppressive hair treatments.
Enter the C.R.O.W.N. (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. A bill passed in 2019, this new law would provide protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles. It addressed issues like anti-natural hair policies in places of work, schools, and other public spaces. Through this bill, the U.S. was able to recognize that no one should be made to feel ashamed or devalued because of their race-based hairstyles.
To understand why the C.R.O.W.N. Act was necessary, one must look back at the events leading up to its inception. From slavery to present day, African Americans were often subjected to Eurocentric beauty standards that made natural, curly hair to appear “untamed” and “unruly”. This would lead to women (and some men) subjecting themselves to hair treatments that were often damaging and painful. Furthermore, if black people chose to maintain their natural hairstyles, it often created backlash and discrimination