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Sen. Cory Booker announces first federal bill to ban natural hair discrimination

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCESen. Cory Booker has officially taken action to support the CROWN Act — Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair — with the announcement of a new bill.
On Thursday, the New Jers…

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCESen. Cory Booker has officially taken action to support the CROWN Act -- Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair -- with the announcement of a new bill.

On Thursday, the New Jersey lawmaker and Democratic presidential candidate unveiled the bill, which bans discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.

Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana also introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, joined by Congresswomen Ayanna PressleyMarcia Fudge and Barbara Lee.

"Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people," Booker said in a statement. "Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at large. This is a violation of our civil rights, and it happens every day for black people across the country."

In July, California became the first state to ban natural hair discrimination. Shortly after, New York became the second state to enact the ban. Several other states are considering passing similar legislation.

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is sponsoring New Jersey Bill A-5564, which amends New Jersey’s Law against Discrimination to include the term "race" as inclusive of hair texture and protective hairstyles. She expressed her excitement over Booker's efforts.

"As a New Jersey legislator and as a black woman who wears her hair natural, I'm proud to be a part of this movement to protect Americans from systemic discrimination based on racial traits such as hairstyles," she said.

A recent study conducted by Dove's CROWN initiative showed that black women are 50% more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair, and 80% of black women feel the need to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.

The same study found that black women's hair is three times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Candice Williams

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