After Republicans voted to block a bill that would ban race-based hair discrimination, Democratic members of Congress vowed to bring the legislation back up for another vote in the coming weeks.
On Monday — the last day of Black History Month — the Crown Act failed to pass the House with a needed two-thirds majority as part of an expedited voting process, with 235 votes for and 188 votes against the bill, the latter all by Republicans.
Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — all Black women — said in a statement that they will ensure it gets brought back up for a vote through a longer process that would need only 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.
The Crown Act would ban discrimination against Black employees or students for wearing tightly curled hair, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, Afros or other natural and protective hairstyles.
In remarks on the House floor Monday, far right Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (Colo.) described the bill in racist terms, calling it the “bad hair bill.”
Watson Coleman, in turn, spoke to why this legislation matters, noting that Black people are “far too often … derided or deemed unprofessional simply because their hair does not conform to white beauty standards.”
“Our natural hair is as innate a quality of Black people as the presence of melanin in our skin,” the congresswoman said. “Discriminating against our hair is no different is no different than discriminating against the color of our skin.”