In a bold move to challenge systemic racism, Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is taking a stand against hair-based discrimination, urging Congress to enact federal protections for marginalized communities. This push comes in the wake of a distressing incident involving Darryl George, an 18-year-old Texas student who faced suspension from Barbers Hill High School simply for sporting locs.
Bush’s advocacy for the CROWN Act, a bill aimed at eliminating hair-based discrimination in educational and professional settings, highlights the urgency of addressing this often-overlooked form of bigotry. The suspension of George, who was disciplined for refusing to alter his natural hair, has sparked a broader conversation about racial discrimination embedded in dress codes. Despite the superintendent’s claim that the policy promotes “sacrifice” and conformity, George’s family asserts it’s a clear violation of Texas’ CROWN Act.
The family’s battle against the school district has escalated to a lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott, accusing him of failing to enforce the state’s anti-discrimination law. George’s experience, marked by stress and unnecessary disciplinary measures, raises a critical question: Why should a student’s hair be a barrier to their education?
At a recent hearing, school district attorneys argued that federal law offers no protection for students’ hairstyles or length. This stance underscores the resistance faced by the CROWN Act at the national level. Despite being adopted by 24 states, Republican senators have twice blocked the bill since its 2021 introduction, and it has yet to be brought before Congress in 2023.
The struggle against hair discrimination isn’t just about passing the CROWN Act. It involves broader systemic changes, including diversifying school staff and empowering Black parents. As education and racial justice advocates emphasize, these steps are vital in rooting out this form of prejudice in schools.
Dr. Bettina Love, a prominent voice on racial justice in education, sums it up poignantly: “The fact that we even have to have a CROWN Act says so much about this country.” Her words resonate with the absurdity of having to legislate the right for Black individuals to wear their hair naturally in 2023.
Representative Bush’s call to action is more than just a legislative plea; it’s a rallying cry for fundamental change. It’s about affirming the dignity and identity of Black individuals, challenging ingrained biases, and building a more inclusive and equitable society. As this battle continues, it serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing fight for racial justice and equality in every aspect of American life.