The Louisville Metro Council Panel Improves Hair Protection from the CROWN Act
A Louisville Metro Council committee has tabled a proposal to expand the city’s anti-discrimination laws by making it illegal to discriminate against a person based on their hairstyle.
The regulation is called the “CROWN Act”, an acronym for “Create a respectful and open world for natural hair”. The Justice and Inclusion Committee unanimously approved the law among the six committee members present during a special meeting on Thursday afternoon.
The ordinance, if passed by the full council, would amend Chapter 92 of the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances, which protects Jefferson Counties from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, age, disability, gender, gender Identity or sexual orientation.
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The change adds a definition of “national origin” to the code, stating that the identifier includes the natural texture and color of hair and hairstyles, including, but not limited to, braids, curls, twists and covers that relate to the place of birth or refer to a person’s ancestry.
The regulation also extends the existing definition of discrimination in the Code by making unwanted touching of a person, including touching their hair, discrimination.
Committee chair Paula McCraney said during Thursday’s meeting she was proud to be a co-sponsor of the regulation.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been discriminated against for wearing my hair a certain style – just because I didn’t give the employer the opportunity,” she said.
McCraney said she didn’t wear an afro until she became a business owner, her “own boss”. Before that, she worked in banking, where she believed her afro was frowned upon.
“This act is something I think everyone should embrace,” she said.
The legislation cited Dove’s CROWN research study, which states that black women’s hair is more than three times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.
The ordinance also points to research that black students are more likely to be suspended on grounds of discretion such as dress code or hair loss.
“These examples of discrimination have kept people from getting employment, education and more,” said Councilor Jecorey Arthur, who approved the regulation after the Listening to a group of JCPS students push for legislation at Justice Fest in May.
The students, who make up a hip-hip group called The Real Young Prodigy’s and led by teacher NyRee Clayton-Taylor, have a song called “CROWN” which is dedicated to natural hair.
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“My curls, my twists, my puffs, my braid,” they sing in hers Music video. “My Bantu knots, my edges laid. Short, long or faded, we rock our hair in different ways.”
Clayton-Taylor said the idea for the song came about during a writing session at the Roots 101 Museum in November, and the younger girls wanted to write a song to uplift black girls.
“We just started talking about what you love about yourself and they started talking about hair,” she said. “So we started brainstorming and writing, and then I was able to introduce them to the CROWN Act and talk to them.”
Louisville State Rep. Attica Scott has pushed for statewide laws protecting the CROWN Act, following the example of states like New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, and Washington. The bill was ultimately not adopted.
The Metro Council ordinance is endorsed by all seven black councilors: Democrats Arthur, 4th Ward; McCraney, 7th; Keisha Dorsey, 3rd; Jessica Green, 1st; Donna Purvis, 5th; President David James, 6th; and Barbara Shanklin, 2 .; and Republican Anthony Piagentini, 19th Councilor Bill Hollander, D-9th, also asked to be added as a co-sponsor during the discussion.
The ordinance will now be included in the approval calendar of the full council on June 24th for review.