Councilor Smitherman spearheads resolution supporting legislation to protect against natural hair discrimination
“As a woman of color, I’ve worn my natural hair for a majority of my life,” Councilor Crystal Smitherman said on Tuesday. “I’m sure a lot of black women and men can attest to the insecurity they feel in the workplace or when applying for jobs, based on nothing more than the hair they were born with.”
On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved a resolution in observation of National C.R.O.W.N. (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Day. In 2019 the C.R.O.W.N. Act was created to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.
Nationwide, black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair, and as it stands Alabama currently does not have any protections in place.
So far seven states have adopted these anti-discrimination protections. Councilor Smitherman said she will be working with state legislators to adopt C.R.O.W.N. legislation in Alabama during the next session.
“Our hair is our history,” Smitherman said. “It was used as expressions of different tribes, it was used for maps that runaway slaves would follow — there is a big history of natural hair in black culture. We’ve seen recently men and women being asked to change their hair in order to be able to work or go to school. This legislation is aimed at preventing that from happening to anyone else.”