The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, more commonly known as the CROWN Act, went into effect in the state of Texas on September 1. The new passing will enforce unwavering protection against discrimination in the workplace and public schools based on natural “race-based” hairstyles like twists, braids, Afros, and locs.
Texas State Representative Rhetta Andrews Bowers, D-Rowlett, has been pushing for the passing of the CROWN Act for years. After the third time she filed it to her colleagues, it was finally passed into law in this year’s 2023 legislative session. In order to argue for the passing of the CROWN Act, Bowers described having to extensively educate her fellow lawmakers about hair-based microaggressions and outright discrimination. She even shared one of her own experiences that took place on the House floor with a white male colleague.
“He’s asking me, ‘Can I touch your hair?’ and I’m thinking, ‘That is really not going to be a good thing to do because we are right here; you do not want to touch my hair,’” Bowers recalled the incident. “And he laughed, and that was the other thing — some of it, to some people, was a joke, and I had to make them understand that it was about more than hair, that it was about acceptance, really.”
Through Bower’s unwavering determination, the Texas Legislature finally passed the CROWN Act back in May of this year with “overwhelming bipartisan support.”
Bowers told The Texas Standard she believes the new law will be an incredibly positive force for affected people.
“It would impact men, women, and children … whether it was in the classroom and children were being kept from instruction because of their hair and looked at as a distraction — because of the style they are wearing their hair in — or people on a job being held [back] from promotion because they are choosing to wear their hair in braids,” Bowers told the outlet.
Currently, on her natural hair journey, LaToya Gadson is happy it passed.
“I think it’s crazy because, of course, it’s hair that we were born with, right? And the norm is having straight hair,” Gadson expressed. “And now, it’s embracing … this is who I am.”
She spoke to the outlet about the unique experience of going to a hair salon and getting her beautiful mane done up in braids. “To be able to come, sit, relax, have a great conversation, and to have this unique hairstyle … it just makes me feel confident. And pretty…I started rocking my natural hair in 2018. That’s when I started transitioning from relaxers, getting it straight,” Gadson said. Before, she’d worry, “Oh, now, I can’t have curly hair! ‘Cause what someone might think about it.”
Her stylist, Aliyah Hale, agreed with the sentiment. “For me, it’s providing ease to Black women in particular. Because, for us, I feel like everything is hard,” Hale said. “It’s a time saver, it’s convenient, it makes people feel more confident and beautiful.”