NC CROWN Act Advances

A proposed law in the NC House, if passed by the NC General Assembly, would “…create a respectful and open world for natural hair.”

House Bill (HB) 170, otherwise known as the North Carolina CROWN Act, is sponsored by Representatives Kandie D. Smith of Pitt, Carolyn G. Logan of Mecklenburg, Vernetta Alston of Durham, and Amber M. Baker of Forsyth. All are Black women, and all are Democrats.

The acronym “CROWN” stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The proposed measure, which passed first reading and was referred to the House Judiciary 2 Committee on March 1, seeks to make “…discrimination against persons based on traits historically associated with race, hair texture, or hairstyle” prohibited.

HB 170 adds, “No person, firm, corporation, unincorporated association, State agency, unit of local government, or any public or private entity shall deny or refuse employment to any person or discharge any person from employment because of traits historically associated with race or on account of the person’s hair texture or protective hairstyles.”

The proposed law then defines what hairstyles are protected, including (but not limited to bantu, knots, braids, locks, and twists. When referencing race, the bill refers to hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.

The proposed measure makes clear that it does not prevent a person “…from being discharged for cause,” and, “the act is effective when it becomes law.”

The next stop for the NC CROWN Act is the Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House Committee.

The CROWN Coalition is a nationwide group seeking to have CROWN Acts adopted in all fifty states. Only seven states have passed the legislation thus far. The US House passed it last year hoping to make it federal law in all fifty states, but the US Senate did not.

That means in a majority of the nation, Black women can still be fired for how they wear their hair to work. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called the CROWN Act “…an important step forward to combat racial discrimination.”

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