Those who spoke on CROWN Act

Some of those who came to talk about discrimination based on how they wear their hair, during the Black Legislative Caucus community meeting on the CROWN Act. 

The state is just one signature away from a ban on discrimination based on a person's traits that are historically associated with race, specifically, hairstyles.

The "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020," aka the CROWN Act, cleared the Senate on a 23-11 vote on Friday and now heads to Gov. Jared Polis for action. He has ten days to sign House Bill 1048.

Colorado will become the fourth state to implement the CROWN Act, should Polis sign it. 

The bill stems from complaints that black, Hispanic, Jewish, Sikh and Native Americans face discrimination because of how they wear their hair. In the House, several people testified that they had been discriminated against in the workplace or in schools because of their hairstyles or because of headwraps.

Co-sponsor Speaker Pro-tem Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, talked about how her granddaughters' hair have been treated as curiosities. People ask inappropriate questions about their hair or ask to touch it. One granddaughter, on a gymnastics team, has been told to wear her hair like her Caucasian teammates, Buckner said.

The bill bans discrimination based on hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros and headwraps, or any other hairstyle associated with race. 

A study commissioned by DOVE Soap found that black women’s hair is 3.4 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.

While Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, raised concerns about workplace safety during the bill's hearing in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, no one raised any objections when it was heard by the full Senate or on its final vote. 

In a statement Friday, House co-sponsor Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said the bill's signing "will have a real impact on the lives of not only African-American people, but all people who have been told to change their natural hair to fit someone else’s standards of acceptability.”

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