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Bill To End Hairstyle Discrimination Expected To Pass In Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- A bill to prohibit race-related discrimination based on the texture and style of a person's hair is being voted on in Maryland, and supporters expect it to pass.

A bill prohibiting discrimination against hair associated with race seeks to eliminate barriers based on natural hair. Baltimore Delegate Stephanie Smith is the sponsor.

"The great Madame C.J. Walker became the first black woman millionaire in America because she was helping black women conform to European beauty standards to survive in this country," Smith said.

Only a handful of states have adopted what's known as The CROWN Act -- Creating a Respectful and Open World For Natural Hair -- California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Montgomery County, have already passed the legislation.

"I think many people who haven't had to deal with those hurdles, and going in for jobs and also dealing with it in school, and school administrators had no idea that this is a barrier," Delora Sanchez-Ifekauche, a CROWN Act advocate, said. "So it's bringing to light, it's opening up the conversation and will be able to codify the fact that discrimination for that reason is unacceptable."

The bill is expected to be approved by the committee and then go to the floor where it is also expected to pass.

"We just want to make sure people aren't losing opportunities for their livelihood and ability to live their life because people have misguided notions of what constitutes professionalism and what constitutes natural identity," Smith said.

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