PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beginning in 2022, Black workers and students in Oregon will be protected against hair discrimination since state lawmakers passed The Crown Act earlier this year.
The Crown Act protects all people of color from race-based mistreatment when it comes to wearing their hair in braids, twists, locks, natural, with scarves or accessories.
Volunteers have been working to spread awareness in Black communities about the new law. They said many people didn’t realize the bill actually passed.
Two of the volunteers, LaNicia Duke and Rae Dunnaville, shared with KOIN 6 News their concerns for their children.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s still such a lack of awareness of our differences, but hopefully as we have these conversations in talking about our differences, we can find commonalities at the same time,” said Duke, who lives in Tillamook County.
“We will have school districts that may have 5 or 10 black students in the entire district and my concern is that as we are passing legislation that is still needed in 2021 for protections, at the same time, we’re still educating people, right.”
Dunnaville said she “really did not want my children to experience situations where they want to play on the volleyball team, they want to be on the wrestling team, but they’re excluded because their hair is not considered appropriate or they’re forceably getting their hair cut and things like that at school.”
The state board of education and other agencies are still working out how to implement the Crown Act. Several other states have similar laws, including Washington.
“It’s important for Black communities to know this has happened so they can better advocate for themselves,” Dunnaville said, “and it’s important for employers and school administrators and teachers to also know so they can be aware of how things have changed and how they can advocate for their students and employees as well.”