LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hair-based discrimination is now illegal in Nevada.
Governor Steve Sisolak signed The “CROWN Act” into law this month. It stands for creating a respectful and open world for natural hair.
Hair is a form of expression, identity, and a connection to heritage, especially in the Black community.
“For me, hair is an accessory… you should be able to wear it the way you want,” said Yindra Dixon, managing director of Blackbox Consulting Group.
For many Black women, there is a shared experience growing up. Those include memories of straighten, naturally coily, and curly hair through the use of chemicals or heat — often times in order to fit a European beauty standard.
“Definitely microaggressions, ‘can I touch it?’, ‘what did you do?,'” Dixon explained. “You know, when Black women put in braids it’s like ‘oh my gosh what happened to your hair?’ because it has transitioned into something completely different.”
Black women are 80% more likely to have changed their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office, and they are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair, according to the 2019 Dove Crown research study.
Professional hairstylists like Christine Powell say the pressure to conform is damaging.
“As stylist, we will say ‘don’t put that much heat on your hair, it’s going to damage your hair or [you’ll] lose it,'” Powell said.
Senators Dina Neal and Dallas Harris pushed for the CROWN Act in order to protect women who wear braids, locs and twists.
“Because people lack education when it comes to hair, we are typically judged on how our hair looks,” she said.
“People who don’t understand maybe have only had the influence of their families… they take those biases into the workplace,” Dixon noted.
The CROWN Act is life changing for many.
“As we break the chains of slavery, as we liberate ourselves as people, as we liberate ourselves as a community and as we work with our allies to bring equity and justice to our community, it is imperative that we let Black women be free and let them do what they want with their hair,” Dixon said.
“It was important to pass statutory protections against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools. Hair is a part of identity and race. The importance of this bill for generations to come will be a feeling of safety in wearing natural hair. A student Naika Belizaire testified at the Senate hearing that she was sent to detention for wearing her natural hair. We want to protect students in schools and the workplace from this kind of discriminatory activity.
The bill also deals with the promotion process to go after the glass ceilings in workplaces, it’s Section 7 and 8.”Senator Dina Neal