romina farias NhTBT45OkBE unsplashSPRINGFIELD – A 2019 Dove study found that African American women face the highest instances of hair discrimination and are more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is working to ensure this will no longer be the case in Illinois.

“No one should have to miss out on a job opportunity or miss a school graduation because of the hair that grows naturally out of their head,” Hunter said. “It’s 2021. As a nation, we should be past this petty discrimination.”

Senate Bill 1847 – also known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act – amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to provide that the term "race" includes traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists.

The Dove study also uncovered that 80% of African American women felt they needed to switch their hairstyle to align with more conservative standards in order to fit in at work.

Hair discrimination occurs not only in the workplace, but in schools across the country, as well. In January 2020, DeAndre Arnold, an 18-year-old at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, was suspended from school for dreadlocks he started growing in the seventh grade in the same school district. He was threatened with missing his high school prom and graduation. He has since withdrawn from the school district and enrolled elsewhere.

Last month, a four-year old boy in Chicago was told his braids violated the private school’s dress code.

“Black people should have the right to be expressive and creative with their hair, and not worry about being ‘unprofessional‘ or violating a conduct because of it,” Hunter said. “If it is wrong to judge by the color of one’s skin and not the content of their character, isn’t it also wrong to judge by the way one styles their hair?”

The Dove study also noted a bias against Black women with natural hairstyles in job recruitment. Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived to be less professional, less competent, and less likely to be recommended for a job interview than Black women with straightened hairstyles and white women with either curly or straight hairstyles.

Black women with natural hairstyles received more negative evaluations when they applied for a job in an industry with strong dress norms.

The CROWN Act passed out of the Human Rights Committee Thursday and awaits to be heard on the Senate Floor.

Category: Social Equality

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