Crowning Achievement for Black Hair in Columbus
Councilmember Priscilla Tyson Champions Local Anti-Discrimination Moment for Cultural Hair Styles
[COLUMBUS, OH] Like the many twists, turns and entanglements of Black life in America, African American hair has been stigmatized and often results in being a source of discrimination. Led by Councilmember Priscilla Tyson, the City of Columbus took a significant step forward with the implementation of the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or the CROWN Act. The legislation, which is intended to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs and twists goes into effect on January 16, 2021.
“I am very pleased that our voices have been heard on this issue,” said Councilmember Tyson. “Discrimination takes many forms. This year we’ve been reminded that racism is a public health crisis, not only in America but in Columbus, Ohio and around the world.”
The ordinance was sponsored jointly with fellow Councilmember Shayla Favor.
“I’m honored to co-sponsor this important and timely measure alongside Councilmember Tyson as our City works to eliminate the impact of racism and discrimination in our community,” said Councilmember Shayla Favor. “Through the implementation of the CROWN Act, we are preparing to make strides towards greater equity in professional and educational environments for our Black community members who have been penalized for the appearance and style of their natural hair.”
The legislation adds two provisions to the Columbus City Code that state:
- “Race” is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair textures and protective and cultural hairstyles; and
- “Protective and cultural hairstyles” includes, but is not limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locs, cornrows, bantu knots, afros, and twists, whether or not hair extensions or treatments are used to create or maintain any such style, and whether or not hair ornaments, beads or head wraps adorn the hair.
On December 10, 2020, Councilmember Tyson held a public hearing on the legislation. During the event, Britain, A’mya, Kaden and Mackenzie, members of the Commission on Black GIrls, presented remarks in support of the CROWN Act. These innovative girls also created a video presentation to stress the need for the CROWN Act (link here).
“We see inequity as a threat to justice, and we the leaders of Columbus will fight to make sure that inequity of any type is shut down at every turn,” Tyson continued.
Further, the legislation expands discrimination to include employment, fair housing, public accommodations and education.
It was also highlighted at the hearing that hair is another stressor tied to race that marginalizes Black students in the classroom and professionals in the workplace. Racial inequities concerning hair have led to discrimination that can severely impact performance. It occurs when students and employees have to worry more about how their hair will be perceived or accepted instead of their academic and professional capabilities.
The CROWN Act is the result of a national effort by the CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, the National Urban League, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the Color of Change and supported by more than 50 non-governmental and non-profit organizations. These groups have worked to raise awareness for hair discrimination and driven action to end hair discrimination in workplaces and schools.
The CROWN Act has also been passed in states including California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland; as well as cities including Cleveland Heights, Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, here in Ohio; and other municipalities such as Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Covington Kentucky, New York City, New Orleans, Montgomery County and Maryland.