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We were watching the Academy Awards, looking to glimpse a view of a friend who was in the audience, when our attention was caught by the winner of the Best Animated Short Film. Former NFL football player Matthew Cherry is the writer, co-producer and co-director of ‘Hair Love.’ During his acceptance speech, Cherry said this animated film “was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize Black hair.” Cherry went on to call for federal passage of the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act.
Our curiosity was piqued. We found a copy of ‘Hair Love.’ The short film is the touching tale of an African American girl, Zuri, and her father, who together learn to style Zuri’s exuberant curls for a special day. The poignant animated short uses minimal words; the characters’ gestures and expressions tell the story.
The California Civil Rights Law Group wants to give a shout out to Mr. Cherry, not only for endorsing the CROWN Act on a global stage, but also for creating a delightful film.
The CROWN Act was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsome on July 3, 2019. The legislation prohibits racial discrimination based on hair style by extending protection under the FEHA and the California Education Code.
Federal courts accept that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, and therefore protects against discrimination against afros. However, the California legislation recognizes that the Federal courts do not understand that afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair. Black hair can also be naturally presented in braids, twists, and locks.
In enacting the CROWN act, the legislature found that, “In a society in which hair has historically been one of the many determining factors of a person’s race, and whether they were a second-class citizen, hair today remains a proxy for race. Therefore, hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.” We have experience in successfully representing race discrimination victims against employers large and small in jury trials and arbitration. If you have questions about harassment or race discrimination in the workplace, contact the California Civil Rights Law Group at (415) 453-4740.