And the Oscar goes to...Hair Love!
The seven-minute animated film that shows a black father doing his daughter's hair won the Oscar for best animated short. During their acceptance speech, the film's director, writer, and former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry and co-producer Karen Rupert Toliver urged the passage of CROWN Acts around the nation.
The Colorado House took that step Wednesday, passing on a 42-21 vote House Bill 1048, Colorado's version of the CROWN Act. It stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, and would ban discrimination on a person's traits that are associated with race.
The bill picked up one Republican "yes" vote, from Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton.
It also picked up a slightly new version from sponsors Reps. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. School districts cannot waive out of the CROWN Act, Herod told the House during second reading debate Monday.
Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, who voted against the bill when it was heard by the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, said the bill has a lot of merit. Racial discrimination is unacceptable, he told the House Monday. But there are anti-discrimination laws already on the books, and that should be adequate, he said.
"Perhaps there is a need for this, but it also might be duplicative or redundant."
Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, asked whether the bill would impact those in Junior ROTC, or how it would impact people in agriculture who use heavy equipment.
Herod replied that a federal court ruled that hair styles were not covered by discrimination laws, a case she said was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nor does the bill impact the military, she said, which has already changed its rules to allow for hairstyles such as dreadlocks. As to heavy equipment, a hair tie is always an option and safety is not a reason to discriminate, she said.
Buckner said her family watched the Oscars Sunday night and cheered when "Hair Love" won. "My granddaughters were clapping. They were so excited; they been personally impacted by how they wear their hair.
"I wear my hair short, mixed gray," Buckner said. "I wear it straight. You believe I am a legitimate legislator and easy to talk to...if I came in tomorrow with my hair in its natural form, and yes, when I wash it and don't use a relaxer, it would be kinky and shrink. Would you feel any different about me?" she asked.
"Hair has nothing to do with my ability," actions or intelligence. "Hair should not determine who I am and how I am perceived."
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.
If signed into law, Colorado would become the fourth state to adopt the CROWN Act, following California, New York and New Jersey. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, also has introduced a federal version.