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California Moves Toward Ending Race-Based Hair Discrimination

KPBS Midday Edition's Jade Hindmon is pictured with natural hair texture, Apr...

Above: KPBS Midday Edition's Jade Hindmon is pictured with natural hair texture, April 30, 2017.

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When you google images of unprofessional hairstyles you will see mostly pictures of black women with natural hairstyles. The kinky/coily/curly hair texture, unprocessed by chemicals, extreme heat or cut low has for years been viewed as unprofessional in workplaces and schools.

Aired: April 30, 2019 | Download | Transcript

When you Google images of unprofessional hairstyles you will see mostly pictures of black women with natural hairstyles. The kinky, coily or curly hair texture, unprocessed by chemicals, extreme heat or cut low has for years been viewed as unprofessional in workplaces and schools.

California Senate Bill 188, which is expected to become law, would change that. It's known as the C.R.O.W.N. Act and was introduced by state Senator Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles. C.R.O.W.N stands for "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair."

Mitchell, who wears her hair in locks, said African Americans are punished for their natural appearance when dress codes ban kinky hair.

"There are still far too many cases of black employees and applicants denied employment or promotion — even terminated — because of the way they choose to wear their hair," she said in a speech on the Senate floor recently. "I have heard far too many reports of black children humiliated and sent home from school because their natural hair was deemed unruly or a distraction to others."

Professor Starla Lewis who lectures on diversity and African American studies at Mesa College and San Diego State University joined Midday Edition to talk about the impact of this legislation.

Also, Dan Eaton who is an employment law attorney and partner at Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon, Vitek joined the conversation to talk about what the C.R.O.W.N. Act means for employment law.

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