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Jackson County outlaws employment, school discrimination based on hairstyle

County executive Frank White to sign CROWN Act executive order
Racial Injustice-Hair Act
Posted at 2:49 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 15:49:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County will ban discrimination based on natural hairstyles after County Executive Frank White Jr. announced his intention to implement the CROWN Act via executive order.

The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, prohibits discrimination in the workplace or schools with respect to natural hairstyles — including braids, locks, afros, curls and twists.

“For far too long, black people have felt undue pressure by society to look a certain way to fit in or get a job,” White said in a statement. “That ends today in Jackson County.”

The CROWN Act takes effect immediately upon White’s signature.

“I want Jackson County to be a place where my grandchildren know they can be themselves regardless of how they decide to wear their hair,” White said in a statement. “Choosing a hairstyle is an important, personal choice for Black people that reflects their culture and ethnicity and we cannot allow that self-expression to be suppressed. Enacting the CROWN Act sends a message that discrimination in any form will not be tolerated within Jackson County’s workforce as we strive to create a more inclusive environment that advances racial equity.”

Historically, Black people have been more likely to experience prejudice and discrimination based on hairstyles than other racial and ethnic groups — in particular, Black women.

According to a news release from the county:

  • 80% of Black women report having to change their hairstyle to “fit in at the office;”
  • Black women are 1 1/2 times more likely to be sent home from work over an issue with their hairstyle;
  • Black women are 3.4 times more likely to report being perceived as unprofessional;
  • 83% of Black women report being judged more harshly than their white counterparts based on their appearance.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act in March, but the U.S. Senate has yet to take up the legislation.

White’s action creates the law at the local level while it’s stalled at the federal level.