Curls on the Move Creator, Dr. Patti O'Brien-Richardson on NJTV discussing hair harassment

In February, New York City became the first city in the world to ban discrimination based on hair, a term I refer to in my research as Hair Harassment. Now, individuals who have been harassed, punished or fired because of the style of their hair have a legal recourse to address it.

On July 4th, 2019, California became the first state to ban hair discrimination with the CROWN Act which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace. The CROWN Act was introduced by state senator Holly J. Mitchell to “ensure protection against discrimination in the workplace and schools based on hairstyles by prohibiting employers and schools from enforcing purportedly ‘race neutral’ grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color.”

When I began this work in 2013 as a PhD student, many did not believe what I was saying. They could not believe people could be harassed simply because of the way their hair grew out of their scalp. Well, not only is it real, but I’ve published several peer-reviewed articles and started a girls after-school program, Curls on the Move, based on my research to teach girls how to advocate for themselves on this topic. Yes, hair harassment is real and now those in NYC, California, and hopefully soon New Jersey have a legal pathway to remedy it.

Earlier this month NJTV invited me to share my thoughts on the CROWN Act and the idea of a version of it coming to New Jersey in the form of a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. Click HERE to view the interview.

Support our work with girls and our non-profit program Curls on the Move. Help us teach girls how to embrace their natural hair while addressing critical policy and socially unjust issues affecting their world.

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