Oregon is set to become the latest state in the country to pass the CROWN Act that will protect Black residents from hairstyle discrimination.
In recent weeks, volunteers have made it a statewide mission to educate the public about the new law that goes into effect in January 2022, OBG reports. It will now be illegal for Black people to be discriminated against for their hairstyles when in work and school settings.
“It is very relevant to people,” said Black Oregon native LaNicia Duke. “But I also think we have to stop dictating laws without educating people on the why.”
Once Duke learned about the CROWN Act being passed, she became one of the many dedicated volunteers who have taken up the cause to inform Oregonians about the change and why it’s important. Under the new law, people who believe they’ve been discriminated against based on their hairstyle can file complaints in schools and workplaces.
No longer will Black Oregonians be forced to endure race-based mistreatment for wearing their hair in braids, twists, protective hairstyles, headwraps, or accessories in their hair. Spreading awareness about the new law comes one month after the State Board of Education held a first reading of the rule changes and heard proposals for following the new law.
The rule revisions include adding a description of “protective hairstyles” and changing dress code language. School districts will also be limited from becoming members of organizations that don’t have “equity-focused policies.”
The CROWN Act was first passed in California in 2019. An acronym for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, the law helps change the definition of race with California expanding on its anti-discrimination laws to include “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” STL Today reports.
Oregon campaign volunteer Rae Dunnaville has been on the front lines spreading awareness on the CROWN Act and says her efforts are showing her how much more work needs to be done.
“What became clear to me was, there is definitely a lot more community education that we need to do to make sure our community knows that this has happened, and now we have this added layer of protection,” Dunnaville said.
“More than ever students need this protection in schools, more than ever, workers need these protections in the workplace.”