Crown Act bill advances in the Louisiana legislature

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Hairstyles come in all forms and a bill that advanced in the Louisiana legislature on Monday aims to prevent discrimination related to hair-dos.

Some people say wearing braids, dreadlocks, cornrows, twists, curls, etc., has caused them to be discriminated against. House Bill 41 by Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans, would prohibit such discrimination.

Kaitlyn Joshua of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice told the House Civil Law Committee that passage of the bill is warranted.

“Not with my current employer, but past employers that I’ve had whether working for doctors’ offices or law firms I’ve experienced discrimination as a woman of color, the reactions that I got or the daily assignment that I received for the day was based off of how I looked that day and so as you can tell my hair today I’ve straightened it,” said Joshua.

Newell’s legislation would bar discrimination based on hair texture, natural hairstyles, and protective hairstyles. She gave a synopsis of her bill before the committee hearing.

“The intent behind this bill is to protect all people who have textured, natural hair, protect the form, the way their hair grows out of their scalp and the protective styles they decide to style their hair in, it’s not about race, it’s not about gender,” said Newell.

Charles Barjon of the Sierra Club also spoke in favor of the bill.

“I, for a long time. had dreadlocks and as a matter of fact last year I was still an intern in this wonderful building with my dreadlocks and I could notice a difference in how I am received now I’m very successful in my lobbying, I look more uniform and as a black man, to give you a different perspective when we grow our hair in an afro or we choose to grow dreadlocks or cornrows we are seen as thugs or violent,” said Barjon.

Public support for HB 41 crosses racial lines.

“My son currently has long hair, he’s in college and he figured this was his chance to have long hair and grow it out because once he goes into the business world he’ll be expected to have it short, so I support this bill as no person should be discriminated against because of their hairstyle,” said Kelly Couture. “Louisiana is a gumbo, full of cultures, full of people and we have to respect this gumbo that we love, all these peoples’ and cultures,” said Barjon.

In the end the bill advanced from the committee to the full House of Representatives on a vote of 8 to 6.

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