'Crown Act' signed into law, California bans racial discrimination against natural hair

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Her edges just pressed, hair now silky and straight, local attorney Lenora Taylor explains why she chooses not to wear her natural hair.

“You have to be presented a certain way in my profession. I got to court, I meet clients and so you feel like you have to conform to a certain norm,” said Taylor.

Professionalism is often judged by appearance. For men and women of color, their hair is a big part of that. Twists, cornrows, Afros and dreadlocks have all been considered, at one time or another, unprofessional in the workplace.

Crown Act: California woman says bill to end race-based hair discrimination is long overdue

“I have a lot of clients who cut their hair off because of the stigma associated with them,” said Rhonda Glenn, owner of Nappy Or Not! Salon in Oakland.

Glenn started a natural hair training academy, teaching other people how to style natural hair since she says it’s not taught in cosmetology school.

“I don't think it’s fair for us to have to conform because people are afraid of the way we look,” said Glenn.

California set to become first state to ban natural hair discrimination

That’s why California State Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles authored the Crown Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair.

The bill outlaws racial discrimination in the workplace and public schools, based on hairstyles.

The bill didn’t get a single no vote and was signed Wednesday by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“My choice of how I wear my hair shouldn’t impact my ability to get a job, keep a job or get promoted,” said Senator Mitchell.

The ladies at Nappy or Not! Salon question the oversight, but say they agree it’s a step in the right direction.

“It’s encouraging that it's being heard. At least the conversation is there so it's a start,” said Glenn. 

“I hope people feel more comfortable in expressing themselves as they truly are,” said Taylor.

There has been a natural hair movement over the last year or so, among TV anchors and reporters, opting to wear their natural hair on air.

They say their hope is that young girls will see women who look like them, and feel comforted knowing their natural hair is beautiful, embraced and now accepted.

The Crown Act goes into effect on January 1.