Florida lawmakers are looking into whether to ban discrimination based on hair texture, type or style with a bill filed in the state Senate this week.
The “CROWN Act” bill — short for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” — was filed by Sen. Bobby Powell on Wednesday to prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles in Florida schools.
A former Florida senator attempted to get the CROWN Act passed in January 2022, but it died in the community affairs committee a couple months later.
However, the CROWN Act is a law in 20 other states, and Central Florida hairstylists say that the legislation is necessary.
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Shakakan Stamper is a self-described master loctician: a specialized hairstylist who works with dreadlocks and similar types of hair. She told News 6 that she made the switch from straight hair to locs years ago, and she encourages other Black women to embrace their natural hairstyles.
However, Stamper said that some of her former clients were hesitant to wear their hair naturally in the workplace.
“Coming from corporate America, I can understand where the fear comes from,” Stamper said. “We still have to live. We still have to eat, so sometimes, we do have to conform, but it hurts in the inside because it’s like, “OK, why can’t I be myself?”
Angel Neal, a cosmetologist of more than 30 years, said that she’s heard several similar stories from her clientele.
“A lot of little kids now, their moms are keeping their hair natural, so they’re getting picked at, and they’re getting teased at school,” Neal said.
The conversation about what is and isn’t acceptable or professional hair is ongoing.
“I think right now, it shouldn’t even matter how we wear our hair,” Neal said. “I think that’s a shame that we’re still fighting for something to look natural, something that’s natural for us.”
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