Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill Wednesday that bans discrimination based on a person's natural hair texture or style.
Supporters brought forward what's called the CROWN Act, also known as Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair, after Black Minnesotans reported discrimination in the workplace and in schools because of their hair. Eighteen other states have the CROWN Act. Discrimination based on race is already prohibited under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, but lawmakers that supported the bill said that the language needed to be more explicit.
“Discrimination has no place in Minnesota,” said Walz in a news release. “By signing the CROWN Act, we are sending a message that Black Minnesotans deserve to live and work free from discrimination. Today we are taking an important step in creating a more equitable Minnesota.”
The bill passed 45-19 the Senate on Jan. 26 and 111-19 in the House on Jan. 11.
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Sen. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, is one of the first Black women in the Senate. She said the act will influence generations to come.
“This amendment gets us one step closer to telling every person including little Black, brown girls and boys with afros, that they are wonderful exactly how they are.”
Some Minnesotans worry the bill isn’t enough. Kemi Lawani, owner of Bonita’s Extensions and Braids in south Minneapolis, said education is needed to stop discrimination at the source. She hopes to see follow through with the bill.
“We shouldn’t even have a law that protects our hair,” Lawani said. “We’re human. You know, we’re not a thing. We’re not an item. But also, can they change what’s really causing this problem? Can they fix the educational piece of it?”