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SAG-AFTRA Urges Congress to Pass CROWN Act to Prevent Race-based Hair Discrimination

The law, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March, would prohibit racial bias and unfair treatment based on hairstyle or texture at work, federal programs and public accommodations.

Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are urging Congress to pass the CROWN Act

In a statement sent to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, dozens of members of SAG-AFTRA including Zöe Kravitz, Niecy Nash, Kerry Washington, Don Cheadle and Rosario Dawson advocated for the law, which seeks to end hair discrimination nationwide. 

“The CROWN Act is a huge step in ending discrimination based on hair in public education and work spaces,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher in a statement. “People should feel free to style their hair how they feel most comfortable without the threat of prejudice and unequal treatment.”

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The law, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 235 to 189 last March. 

Enacted in 19 states to date, including California, New Mexico, New York and Massachusetts, the CROWN Act now sits with the Senate. If passed by the Senate and president Biden, the law’s protections would apply to all 50 states. 

“When you work in an industry where you can be hired — or not hired — largely on how you look, you become acutely aware of how damaging it can be to discriminate against someone based on something as extraneous as how they wear their hair,” said Jason George, chair of the SAG-AFTRA Hair and Makeup Equity Work Group, which recommended the statement. 

Other members of the SAG-AFTRA Hair and Makeup Equity Work Group include Yvette Nicole Brown, Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Michelle Hurd, Ezra Knight, Linda Powell and Sheryl Lee Ralph. 

“Until our nation’s leaders say, in no uncertain terms, that it is not acceptable to discriminate against someone based on their hair, private employers and institutions will continue to skirt the issue with ease,” George said. 

The CROWN Act was created in 2018 by four Black women: Esi Eggleston Bracey, Unilever’s chief operating officer and executive vice president of beauty and personal care; Kelli Richardson Lawson, the founder and CEO of DC marketing firm Joy Collective; Orlena Nwokah Blanchard, president and COO of Joy Collective and ABA Consulting founder and CEO Adjoa B. Asamoah.