Bill would protect natural hairstyles
People who wear African American hairstyles, including natural, dreadlocks, twists, cornrows and braids, would be protected from discrimination in schools and at work under a bill proposed by a state senator from Orlando.
The Florida CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for
Natural hair, “is an essential part of a national movement to acknowledge the cultural and social manifestations of racial identity, and to uphold our shared values of equity and fairness,” said Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy at a news conference Friday at the Cheryl Couture Salon in Pine Hills.
“We’re not our hair,” said for
mer WKMG-Channel 6 anchor Secily Wilson, whose daughter Nicole was asked by her former school, Montverde Academy, to change her natural style because it violated the school’s dress code. The school later reversed its policy.
“My daughter is educated, smart, brilliant, beautiful,” Wilson said. “We want everyone to see us the way that we are, the qualities that we bring to the table, the professions that we’re able to execute with excellence. Don’t judge us.”
Also speaking at the event was Ericka Dunlap, Miss Florida 2003 and Miss America 2004, who said that during her pageant days there was “a lot of pressure to streamline my look, if you will, to make it appear as Europleasing as possible. … It needed to be straight, it needed to be long, in order to be considered beautiful or even acceptable.”
Dunlap, who now wears an Afro, said young women should be able to have their hair “as God intended it, and they should not have to undergo the strenuous and expensive measures that we go through in order to make our hair, ‘acceptable.’ ”
If passed and signed into law, it would make Florida the third state after California and New York to enshrine such hairstyle protections into law and the first with a Republican Legislature and governor.
Bracy said he had spoken with state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, the chair of the Community Affairs Committee, and he is confident she will schedule a hearing on the bill. Flores could not be reached for comment Friday.
There was no companion House bill listed as being filed as of Friday.