SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association are praising the passage Friday of the CROWN Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, HR 2116, would prohibit discrimination in education and employment based on a person’s texture or style of hair. Several states, including California and New York, already have such laws.
“SAG-AFTRA performers of color routinely find themselves on sets where their hair care and styling needs are not met in an equitable manner with other performers,” the union said in a statement today. “This legislation will help address that disparate treatment on our sets nationwide and end this discriminatory practice in the workplace once and for all.”
“Now is the time to reevaluate norms in a multiracial, multiethnic nation such as the United States of America,” said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. “We must all refine our eyes to see that which is different from ourselves, not as wrong, but simply different. The CROWN Act addresses this with regards to natural hair of people of color. It is an exciting step towards a societal awareness of prejudice, judgment and whitewashing of culture. We must elevate ourselves as a species by embracing positively the many different threads that make up the fabric of the human experience.”
In its statement, the union thanks Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) for her leadership on the legislation, and Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) for their support of the bill, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) for reintroducing the CROWN Act in the U.S. Senate.
Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity, the union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, said in a statement, “Equity strongly agrees that hair texture is a protected racial characteristic, and it’s time for federal law to recognize this. This law asserts that neglect or penalization of a worker due to their natural hair texture is racist and illegal. We urge swift passage in the Senate.”
IATSE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees (DPE) also applauded the House’s passage of the legislation.
“Our Committee speaks consistently about removing obstacles to upward movement for BIPOC members of the IATSE,” the union’s diversity committee said. “Enacting this legislation makes it clear that the way in which a person’s hair grows or is worn does not denote anything about their ability to perform the job they are hired to do. Our Committee also realizes that enacting a law does not change attitudes and culture overnight, but it does provide a legal avenue to seek justice when your appearance is weaponized against you.”
DPE president Jennifer Dorning said that “DPE and our affiliated unions in the arts, entertainment, and media industries made passage of the CROWN Act a pillar of our Policy Agenda for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in these industries because no person should face discrimination for their natural hair, on or off stage. We applaud the House’s passage of this important legislation and thank the members who voted yes. Now it is the U.S. Senate’s turn to take action in order to send this important legislation to President Biden’s desk. We will continue our advocacy until the CROWN Act is the law of the land.”
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