Three states have banned discrimination against nappy hair—and Florida could be the fourth, thanks to bills recently filed for the 2020 Legislation Session.
The other-state laws, and those Florida bills, are part of a national movement known as CROWN—Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair—which aims to protect people of African descent who wear afros, dreadlocks, twists, cornrows and other natural hair styles from discrimination in schools or at work.
California was the first state to outlaw nappy hair discrimination this summer, followed by New York and, just last week, New Jersey. Several cities and counties nationwide have done the same, and lots of states are considering it. Learn more about the movement here.
Florida Senate Bill 566 was filed in October by state Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando), who said the bill represents “creating a respectful and open world for natural hair” which he calls essential to acknowledging the culture and history of the people who wear those styles. State Representative Kamia L. Brown (D-Ocoee) filed a companion bill in late November.
And, apparently, it’s needed. According to the CROWN movement, incidents of discrimination based on hair texture is a huge issue. Well-known examples include the young New Jersey wrestler who had to cut his locks in order to compete and two sisters in the Boston area prevented from wearing braid extensions to their charter school.
And it happened in Orlando last year, when a six-year-old named Clinton Stanley Jr. and his father were told on the first day of class that he couldn’t attend the private school until his dreadlocks were cut off. The family is currently suing the state’s Department of Education and the school, A Books Christian Academy.
And, it happens here, in Palm Beach County. Jatory Smith of West Palm Beach recalled applying for a job once where he talked over the phone and got the interview. Then, he showed up–and was told the job was no longer available.
“This is who I am,” said Mr. Smith, 30, as his strong, confident hair swung. “If somebody can’t accept that, then they can go on.”