The United States is already one step closer to banning discrimination based on hair texture or style, a problem that especially affects those who wear “Afro”, braided or dreadlocked hair.
The US House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that recognizes that people of African descent have been “routinely” deprived of educational and employment opportunities because of their hair.
The bill, which is yet to be debated in the Senate, seeks to treat hair discrimination as a crime similar to racial or national origin discrimination under civil rights protection laws.
The measure was promoted by Bonnie Watson Coleman, the first African American woman to represent the state of New Jersey in Congress and a fierce defender of the rights of black women.
“For African Americans, growing natural hair is often considered ‘unprofessional’ simply because it does not conform to white beauty standards. Discrimination against African American hair is discrimination against African Americans,” Coleman said in a statement after the hearing. project approval.
The congresswoman has been backed by a large group of legislators with African roots, such as Ilhan Omar, born in Somalia and who covers her hair with a hijab. She and Rashida Tlaib were the first Muslim women to be elected to the US Congress in 2018.
The bill is called “CROWN” and stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
It passed with 235 lawmakers voting in favor (all Democrats and 14 Republicans), while 189 conservatives voted against.
During the debate in the Lower House, the Republicans argued that this measure was not a priority for the United States, submerged in inflation not seen in decades and with gasoline prices close to historical records.
African-American lawmaker Barbara Lee called the Republicans’ arguments “outrageous,” but said she was not surprised.
“At every step they take, Republicans try to diminish the humanity of communities of color and, once again, defend white supremacism,” Lee attacked, who invited conservatives to debate the content of the measure and stop hiding behind in excuses.
The initiative approved by the Lower House this Friday is similar to bills approved in 15 of the 50 US states. and in 30 cities to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture or style.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its own version of the text.