DENVER (CBS4) – A bill that would outlaw discrimination based on hairstyle, type, or texture has gotten initial approval in the Colorado House. HB-1048 passed with amendments on second reading in the House. It’s expected to the full House and move on to the Senate by the end of the week.
The Bill, introduced by Rep.s Leslie Herod and Janet Buckner, would make hair discrimination part of the racial discrimination statute.
“It’s time we state clearly that in Colorado, people who choose to express their culture and heritage through their hairstyle will be embraced, not subjected to discrimination,” Herod said.
The bill — called the CROWN Act — is modeled after laws in California, New York and New Jersey.
“CROWN – ‘Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair’ — is an important step forward for racial equality and freedom of expression,” said Herod.
On Feb. 5 the Colorado Legislature’s Democratic Black Caucus heard testimony from dozens of men and women, who say they’ve been discriminated against based on their hair.
Hashim Coates was among those who testified. He described how his manager passed him over for a promotion because of his hairstyle.
“Without cutting my hair it was going to stop my upward mobility,” he said.
Simone Ross says she too has faced workplace discrimination because of her hair. She says her manager made degrading comments to her colleagues.
“Hair discrimination is racial discrimination. Period,” Ross said.
“Because looking at me with braids was like watching a monkey in a zoo,” said Ross, referring to comments she heard about her appearance.
The CROWN Act is getting national attention right now, as more states take up the issue. It also got mentioned at the 92nd Academy Awards, as producer Karen Rupert Toliver and director Matthew A. Cherry accepted the award for best animated short film for “Hair Love.”