Tempe was the second city in Arizona to adopt the CROWN Act in November 2021. Now, it’s legislation that is up for the U.S. Senate to consider passing to become federal law.
Created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, the CROWN Act stands for creating a respectful and open world for natural hair. The act forbids race-based hair discrimination, including the denial of employment and opportunities for educational purposes.
Tempe, known for its Anti-Discrimination Ordinance passed in 2014, unanimously voted to approve the act after community members Janet Hamlin and Candice Lindsey brought it to the attention of Mayor Corey Woods and Councilmember Jennifer Adams. Tempe’s African American Advisory Committee and Human Relations Commission were also heavily involved in the process.
Woods said Hamlin and Lindsey shared their personal experiences in the workplace as they discussed the importance of the CROWN Act.
“This is not something that just got passed by the council and then gets put in a file cabinet or a drawer somewhere to collect dust,” Woods said. “This is something that really is a living, breathing document as we talk to more people and see things that we feel need to be addressed.”
Woods also said it felt good to be the second city in Arizona to pass the CROWN Act. He said it is critical to create an environment in the community that is open and welcoming to every person who lives in Tempe.
“Tempe is a very progressive, forward-thinking city,” Woods said. “We think it’s important that we stay ahead of the curve on things like this.”
Santiago Howard, ASU student and resident of Tempe, said the act was necessary to pass since data proves that Black women are commonly affected by racial discrimination for their natural hair.
Black women are 30% more likely to have a workplace appearance policy brought to their attention than their non-Black colleagues, according to the CROWN Research study. More research showed that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to have their workplace send them home due to their hairstyle.
“I think it should have been implemented much earlier, but now is better than ever,” Howard said. “I feel protected. Some employers may see my hair as unprofessional and would ask me to cut it.”
Howard said he believes many Black employees, like himself, will feel comfortable with wearing their natural hair in the workplace without doubting themselves.
Tempe is proud to have been one of the community leaders to pass the act and include it as a part of what the city values, said Kris Baxter-Ging, a spokesperson for the city.
Part of Tempe’s values includes the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance. The ordinance considers it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, gender identity, U.S military veteran status, familial status and more. Tempe residents voted overwhelmingly for this legislature, according to the city.
“Inclusion, in every sense of the word, has been important to us for a very long time,” Baxter-Ging said.
Editor's note: Andrea Ramirez is a student journalist at Arizona State University.
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