California outlaws hair discrimination with new bill

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California has become the first US state to make race-related hair discrimination illegal.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the ‘CROWN Act' into law on Wednesday, prohibiting employers and schools from enforcing hair-grooming policies that restrict natural hairstyles such as Afros and protective styles.

"The CROWN Act is redefining the cultural norms of 'professional images' for all people," said Senator Holly J. Mitchell, who first introduced the bill, ushering it through the California Senate in April and the California Assembly in June.

The bill was strongly supported by the CROWN Coalition, an alliance made up of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and the Unilever-owned beauty giant Dove. The acronym stands for ‘Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.' The coalition is also supporting similar bills in New York and New Jersey.

"Dove is proud to be a part of changing the narrative for Black women and girls and anyone with textured hair, and we are excited to stand with the CROWN Coalition and Senator Holly J. Mitchell to make a tangible impact in the state of California," said Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, in a statement.

A national study carried out by Dove earlier this year found that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to have reported being sent home from work -- or know of a Black woman sent home -- because of their hair. They are also 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or expectations in the workplace.

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