CONNECTICUT, USA — State lawmakers have reintroduced a bill set to tackle hair discrimination for people with ethnic hair.
If the anti-hair discrimination bill succeeds in the legislature, Connecticut could be the 8th state to pass such a measure.
"Many of us are judged, passed over for promotion or even fired for the way we wear our hair to work,” said State Rep. Robyn Porter.
An unfortunate, but true statement, state officials and advocates hosted a zoom to announce the re-introduction of House Bill 6376 which is An Act Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or more widely known as the CROWN Act.
It's a bill set to provide more protections against discrimination against those with ethnic hair; from braids, dreads, Bantu knots, and more.
Lawmakers say hairstyles usually worn by people of color need to be protected.
State Senator Julie Kushner said, "We cannot say that we are attempting to deal with systemic racism if we don't deal with these equity issues on every platform, on every front."
The bill has seen huge bipartisan support this year and last year.
Last legislative session the bill got to the house chamber floor but was halted due to the pandemic.
Now many women of color in the state say they are behind the Crown Act.
Tasheba Taylor said, "I think that it's kind of sad in 2021 we even have to have this issue, but I don't think we should be discriminated for having natural hair."
According to a 2019 study by Dove, 80-percent of black women feel that they have to change their natural hair to fit in at the workplace.
Studies also show black women’s hair is 3.4 times more likely to be called unprofessional compared to white women’s hair.
A sentiment Taylor known's all too well as she remembers an experience, she had with old management before she got into the hair industry.
Taylor said, "So she said, wear your natural hair and I thought she meant an afro, but she really meant relax my hair so when I showed up with an afro she was like oh my gosh it looked like you got electrocuted and I was just like this just spoiled the whole staff meeting. I just kind of felt for the first time in my adult life just really insecure about my natural hair."
This experience has been mirrored for not only black women but men and children of color as well.
Christina Jackson who is with the YWCA Hartford Region’s Young Women’s Leadership Corps said, "I felt really insecure that I didn't have really, really long hair or like loose curls or just straightened hair that was like easier to do.
Young people like Jackson say the crown act is needed for a better tomorrow.
She says at an early age she had to learn to love her own hair, her crown and as she helps lead her generation, she has this to say to her peers who may need a little extra help loving their natural hair.
Jackson said, "You’re the only you, and you just need to be yourself because you bring something unique to the table that matters."
The bill so far has only been raised in the labor committee’s public hearing.
The next step is for the bill to go back into screening where the committee will vote on whether to push it to the House chamber.