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Local News

Michigan Senate Passes CROWN Act to Prevent Hair Discrimination

Credit: iStock

Farah Siddiqi

The Michigan Senate has passed legislation to confirm wearing natural hair should not prevent anyone from rising in the workplace, in education or in society in general.

Renee McCauley, a great-grand niece of civil-rights icon Rosa Parks, said the CROWN Act finally allows Michigan as a state to embrace her family and heritage fully.

She described how her great grand aunt relocated from Alabama to Detroit because of racism and was welcomed by the city to live and be herself.

“With the passing of Senate Bill 90 and the CROWN Act, I think that’s a step in saying OK to some more of the ideals of embracing how people are as their natural selves,” McCauley stated. “I think she would agree with that. I’m happy, I just think it’s a great day for Michigan.”

The CROWN Act is law in 20 U.S. states, 44 cities and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the CROWN Act’s website. Five states have not filed legislation for the act. The bill now moves to the House.

At a news conference following passage of the act, Sen. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, recalled stories of discrimination including a young girl in Mount Pleasant whose hair was cut by school personnel, an elementary school child in Jackson who was told she could not pose for school pictures because of her braids, and a man in mid-Michigan who was denied health care coverage.

Chris White, Michigan state director for Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, expanded on the limitations specifically in the restaurant industry.

“If you’re a waitress, will you get scheduled for shifts where the big tips come where the restaurant is the busiest? Will you get a promotion if there’s a general-manager position or district-manager position open?” White asked. “We have to take into account hair discrimination and promotional opportunities.”

The CROWN Act will protect against discrimination on hair texture and race-based hairstyles, including but not limited to braids, dreadlocks, twists and Afros.

Disclosure: Restaurant Opportunities Center United contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story was written by Farah Siddiqi, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.