Pa. lawmakers renew effort to pass bill that would end hair discrimination

By KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The U.S. House passed the CROWN Act this week and it's now off to the U.S. Senate. Pennsylvania lawmakers have since renewed their effort to pass a similar bill that would end hair discrimination in the commonwealth, and for some of the sponsors of the bill, the issue is personal.

State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Summer Lee are renewing efforts to pass the CROWN Act in Pennsylvania.

CROWN stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.

Wearing afros, braids and locks, the lawmakers say they've gotten looks and inappropriate comments at work, and have seen hairstyle impact upward mobility.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who wears his hair locked, said hair discrimination is a form of racism that needs to end.

“We are facing people telling us that is not an appropriate way to wear your hair,” he said.

Seven states have passed the legislation.

Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Hughes is leading the push in the state Senate, where similar legislation was introduced earlier this month.

"We want to be the eighth state, we want to be drivers in the national effort to make a national change,” Hughes said.

"We must challenge those narrow standards of beauty that perpetuate discrimination,” echoed Adjoa B. Asamoah of ABA Consulting, who has spearheaded the fight to get CROWN Act laws passed across the country.

If passed, the bill would alter the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to expand the definition of race to include hair texture and style.

Philadelphia City Council has also introduced a similar measure.