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Black Women on Capitol Hill Are Not Backing Down Despite Republicans Blocking the CROWN Act in the House

Photo by: (Top left) Rep. Ayanna Pressley by Pool/Pool. (Bottom left) Rep. Gwen Moore by NurPhoto/Contributor (Middle) Rep. Ilhan Omar by Scott Eisen/ Stringer. (Top right) Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman by Tasos Katopodis / Stringer. (Bottom Right) Rep. Barbara Lee by Alex Wong/Staff

Photo by: (Top left) Rep. Ayanna Pressley by Pool/Pool. (Bottom left) Rep. Gwen Moore by NurPhoto/Contributor. (Middle) Rep. Ilhan Omar by Scott Eisen/Stringer. (Top Right) Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman by Tasos Katopodis/Stringer. (Bottom Right) Rep. Barbara Lee by Alex Wong/Staff

While the number of states passing the CROWN Act continues to grow, the bill still has a long way to go with ending hair discrimination acts against the Black community on the national stage.

And in true #BlackGirlMagic fashion, several congresswomen are vowing to ensure that temporary setbacks remain that way.

On the last day of Black History Month, the CROWN Act failed to obtain the adequate two-thirds majority in the House as part of an expedited voting process. The tally was: 235 votes in favor and 188 votes against the bill, all of which were cast by Republicans.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a far-right Republican, even referred to the bill as the “poor hair bill” in remarks on the House floor Monday.

The CROWN Act prohibits race-based hair discrimination, which is the denial of employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots.

Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Barbara Lee of California, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — all Black women — said in a statement that they will ensure it is reintroduced for a vote through a longer process that would only require a simple majority to pass.

“We won’t allow Republican antics to stand in the way of Black people having the right to live as their authentic selves,” the congresswomen said.

Folks took to social media to express their opinions on Republicans shutting down the bill.

“The fact you even have to vote on this is sad. Shouldn’t even be an issue,” one Twitter user stated.

Another person said the only people that would vote against the bill are White supremacists.

“I certainly hope this passes. What an easy vote. Anyone who does not vote for this will be White Supremacists.”

One person even mentioned that if a Black child is discriminated against for a particular protective hairstyle, yet a white child doesn’t face the same discrimination, it should be grounds for a lawsuit due to the fact Republicans don’t believe that the CROWN Act isn’t important.

The latest state to pass the CROWN Act was Minnesota, making them the 15th to implement the law as of Feb. 28th.

There, the proposed bill received a 104-25 majority vote.

“At the heart of this bill is the ability to allow more people to show up as their authentic selves in school or in the workplace without fear of repercussions because of their hair,” Representative Esther Agbaje stated.

Rep. Agbaje also said that the CROWN Act bill would add explicit language on hair-based discrimination to simplify courts to hear discrimination cases and streamline the complaint process.

According to the CROWN Act coalition, California was the first to introduced the law in January 2019 and sign it into law a few months later.

Among the states who passed the legislation are: California, New York, and New Jersey in 2019, Virginia, Colorado, and Washington in 2020, and Connecticut, New Mexico, Delaware, Nebraska, Illinois in 2021.

Chart by: The Official CROWN Act Coalition

The Minnesota representative described an instance in which a company prohibited Black employees from wearing afros, braids, or dreadlocks and then fired those who refused to remove their hair once the policy was implemented. She also claimed that the bill would avoid such incidents while relieving the increased pressure on Black employees and students to conform in the workplace by straightening their hair with chemicals.

Last year, Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar joined four other Black congresswomen in proposing the bill in the House and writing to Vice President Kamala Harris to beg for her support.

Rena Moran, a St. Paul Democrat, wrote a CROWN Act bill that passed in 2020 but was never addressed by the GOP-controlled Senate.

To read more about the CROWN Act and how you can get involved, click here!

15 down, 35 more states to go! 

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