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Bill To End Hairstyle Discrimination Being Discussed In Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- A movement to end discrimination based upon a person's natural hairstyle is underway in Annapolis.

It's a longstanding issue that has already been outlawed in some states, and recently, in Montgomery County.

The question raised is: Why isn't it appropriate for African American's to wear their hair just the way it grows?

Hair Love, an Oscar-winning film, told the story of how a dad learned to do his daughter's hair. Former NFL star Matthew Cherry wrote and directed the piece.

"We wanted to normalize black hair," Cherry said.

Normalize, not be punished for it, as students who are kicked out of school for braided hair, or publically embarrassed like the wrestler whose dreadlocks were cut off, or as adults denied employment refusing to cut their hair.

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill to prohibit discrimination based on certain hairstyles and textures including braids, locks, afros, curls and twists.

"We maintain that employers have the right to project a certain image, but they don't have the right to reinforce stereotypes," Senator Mary Washington said.

The Montgomery County Council passed the CROWN Act. CROWN stands for Creating A Respectful And Open World For Natural Hair.

Advocates are asking for passage statewide.

"Now we are seeing exactly how these characteristics of race associated with hair are just another form or tool to be used in social injustice and racial discrimination," Orlena Blanchard, of CROWN Coalition, said. "It really is just another form of racial inequality and injustice that we have to stand against."

Legislation has already been passed in New York, New Jersey and California.

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