KC Council passes CROWN Act, banning hair discrimination at work

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Council passed the CROWN Act, which would ban race-based discrimination based on hairstyle.

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act passed unanimously at Thursday’s council meeting.

The CROWN Act was introduced by Councilwomen Melissa Robinson and Ryana Parks-Shaw and was co-sponsored by Mayor Quinton Lucas.

“I am proud to be a part of this historical moment,” Parks-Shaw said. “I know how it feels to be judged because of my hair, and no one should have to deal with this kind of covert racism. Black men and women should be able to wear their natural hair without backlash or consequence, and the CROWN Act will ensure them this protection.”

The ordinance prohibits employment and educational discrimination based on hairstyles typically worn by Black people, such as braids, locks twists and knots.

According to research funded by Dove, Black women are 80% more likely to change their natural hair style at work and are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hairstyle.

RELATED: CROWN Act, making hair discrimination illegal, introduced to Kansas City Council

“I am thankful to my colleagues for embodying the words today of the late Shirley Chisholm, ‘In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism,’” Robinson said.

“We have a long way to go, my hope is that Kansas City residents are increasing their confidence in their local government’s goal to improve the quality of life for all residents,” she said.

The effort was backed by the ACLU of Missouri and Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet.

Local hairstylist Whitney Ward, owner of Lavish Hair Beautique, welcomes the new ordinance.

“I worked in the corporate work-field for years, and during that time, instead of wearing like my natural hair, which is more coarser, curly texture, I’d opt to wear more straighter wigs just to feel like I’m accepted,” Ward said. “It’s like, dang we really have to have a law for our own natural hair to be accepted? It’s mind blowing to me.”

The right to wear your hair however you want is now law in California, Virginia, New York, Colorado and Washington. Earlier this week, the CROWN Act also passed through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lucas is scheduled to sign the ordinance in a special ceremony Friday.

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