By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern
CAMDEN, N.J. – The “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act, more commonly known as the CROWN Act was first made law in 2019. According to the CROWN Act’s official website, “the CROWN Act was created by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles.”
The legislation hopes to end discrimination of naturally curly and kinky hairstyles, as well as traditionally African American hairstyles in the workforce and in schools. While opposing factions argue the necessity of such legislation, hair discrimination isn’t new and persists in New Jersey. As recently as 2019, wrestler Andrew Johnson of Buena Regional High School in Atlantic County had to choose between his natural hair and his wrestling match.
Though the act is still the subject of controversy, on December 8, Rutgers University New Brunswick hosted an open forum titled “Master Class Series and TRHT Special Edition: The Crown Act.” The discussion, hosted by the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Center (TRHT) featured photographer and author St. Clair Detrick-Jules.
During the event she documented her four years profiling over 100 Black women who wear their hair in its natural state. According to Rutgers, “the talk invited the audience to think about the ways in which conversations about Black hair can be used as an entry-point into generational healing, relationship building, and anti-racism work.”
According to the university, St. Clair used “narrative storytelling on an individual level and communal level as a form of social activism.”
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