Illinois becomes 17th State To Sign C.R.O.W.N. Act into law

Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act under race
It allows protection for the textures and protective hairstyles under the race-based discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Law
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 9:52 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Angella Lewis began her career in the corporate world 25 years ago. She also has a side business as a therapist who works with people dealing with trauma. She describes some of the rhetoric overheard when it comes to her hair.

“Why do you wear your hair like that? is that something that you are going to take down? why don’t you just put a weave in your hair? or just have it straight so you can comb through it?” Explains Lewis.

Both Lewis and her mother visit the Hairadox salon twice a month to get her natural hair two-strand twisted. Hairadox, owned by Aishah Bilal-Ali Ed.S., I.A.T., is one of the leading natural hair salons in Illinois.

Lewis says it was after she decided to go natural when her work life changed, dramatically, “before when I had permed relaxed hair, things were a lot different. The last five years I’ve gone natural and I have noticed a difference.”

She further explains by how going natural, she believes her hair texture held her back from breaking the corporate glass ceiling.

“I’ve noticed a difference in how many promotions i’ve received, how people look at me, the questions i get regarding my hair,” she says.

Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth was a part of the passing of the C.R.O.W.N act, serving as a Chief House Sponsor of the bill SB3616.

In a statement, provided with the announcement of the bill signing on Wednesday, she says, “Illinois is choosing to be a leader in stopping this prejudice behavior and ensuring that workers can no longer be discriminated against for hair traits historically associated with race.”

This is something Hairadox Salon Owner Aishah Bilal-Ali says all workplaces should enforce, “I think they should be open to people being themselves. bringing that flair to their business. that uniqueness that makes us who we are and letting people be that because when you go to work and you can really be yourself and kind of let your hair down like that, it makes for a better work day and work environment.”

According to the Illinois State Bar Association, this law is unique because it ‘explicitly identifies and stops race-based discrimination’ on the job and at education places like primary schools and universities, solely on the a person’s specific hair texture and their use of protective hairstyles popular among people of color, like braids, locs, twists and bantu knots.

Illinois becomes the 17th state in to sign the C.R.O.W.N. act beginning with California in 2019. Sunday, July 3rd is known as CROWN Day to observe the anniversary of the passage. This past Sunday’s BET Awards kicked off the celebration with the CROWN Awards at the conclusion week long celebration.

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