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189 House Republicans vote to ignore racial discrimination based on natural hair

The majority of House Republicans voted against a ban on discrimination against those with natural hair textures and styles.

By Emily Singer - March 18, 2022
Bonnie Watson Coleman

One hundred and eighty-nine Republicans on Friday voted against a bill that bans discrimination against a person based on their hair, mocking the legislation as a waste of time.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, introduced H.R. 2116, titled the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2021 or the CROWN Act, a year ago. The bill would “prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair.”

According to the bill:

Racial and national origin discrimination can and do occur because of longstanding racial and national origin biases and stereotypes associated with hair texture and style. … For example, routinely, people of African descent are deprived of educational and employment opportunities because they are adorned with natural or protective hairstyles in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, or worn in locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, or Afros. … For example, as recently as 2018, the U.S. Armed Forces had grooming policies that barred natural or protective hairstyles that servicemembers of African descent commonly wear and that described these hairstyles as “unkempt”.

The bill passed on Friday by a vote of 235-189. But just 14 Republicans joined all Democrats to support the legislation.

Many Republicans mocked the bill, saying Congress was focused on hair while the country faced other pressing matters.

“While the nation continues to suffer from the many crises created by Democrat policies — Bidenflation, rising crime, the border invasion, vaccine mandates, and America’s diminished stature on the world stage — the only thing Congress is voting on today is a hair style bill,” Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), a white man, tweeted.

“What are we debating? Hairstyles, whether that should be a civil rights issue. I mean, I can say, if they, I told Jim Jordan, I said, if they declared mullets a civil rights issue I guess Id’ve had to vote for it. I mean, that’s just ridiculous,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) said in a selfie video posted to his Twitter account.

Burchett, who is white, said that he hasn’t had any calls to his office about hairstyles being discriminated against, adding it’s a “disgrace” that this is what was being voted on. According to Data USA, Burchett’s Tennessee House district is 85% white and just 5.8% Black.

Watson Coleman celebrated the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives, saying in a statement, “Discrimination against Black hair is discrimination against Black people. I’m proud to have played a part to ensure that we end discrimination against people for how their hair grows out of their head.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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