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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL)

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Minnesota House Passes CROWN Act

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

St. Paul, MN – Today, the Minnesota House moved swiftly to pass the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, chief authored by Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL- Minneapolis). The CROWN Act updates the definition of “race” in the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include “traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hair styles such braids, locs, and twists.” After this modification to the Human Rights Act, adverse actions based on the appearance of an individual would be explicitly considered discriminatory actions based on race.

“It is time we put an end to the discriminatory practice of hair discrimination in Minnesota,” Rep. Agbaje said. “This bill will ensure Black Minnesotans have the right to show up to work as their authentic selves without the fear of being reprimanded due to the style of their hair. By passing the CROWN Act, Minnesota will join a growing number of states that have said that Black people and children no longer must conform to Eurocentric beauty standards to be accepted. It is my hope that over time, we will build a society that celebrates everyone’s diversity and ability to be themselves.” 

While racial discrimination in the areas of housing, education, employment, and public services and accommodations is already prohibited, the CROWN Act would emphasize that discrimination based on the appearance of someone’s hair is explicitly considered racial discrimination.  According to research by the CROWN Coalition, 80% of African Americans are likely to change their natural hair to meet employer expectations while African American women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their natural hair’s appearance. 

The bill passed with a vote of 111-19 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration. The House previously passed the CROWN Act in 2020 and 2022 but was not brought up for a vote by the then-Republican Senate majority.

Video of the House Floor session can be found on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel