“For far too long Black women, men, and children have been deprived of educational and employment opportunities for wearing their natural hair.”
Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs signed an executive order Friday afternoon to prohibit racial discrimination based on hair texture or style. The order means state employees and contractors cannot be fired for wearing their natural hair.
The order will also prohibit discrimination in schools and other public places. Hobbs said the order sends a message that Black Arizonans deserve to feel comfortable wearing their natural hair without fear of discrimination.
“For far too long Black women, men, and children have been deprived of educational and employment opportunities for wearing their natural hair,” Hobbs said. “[This executive order] demonstrates the need to prioritize the protection of culture and allows individuals to show up as their true selves without being subjected to race-based hair discrimination.”
Hobbs was surrounded by nearly two dozen members of the Black community, including representatives from advocacy groups like the African American Museum of Southern Arizona, Black Mother’s Forum, and the Phoenix chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Advocates have cited instances around the country where Black people were forced to cut their dreadlocks or re-do their hairstyles to participate in work, sports, or other activities. The order also provides a legal framework for Black people to file complaints if they are discriminated against.
A similar law, known as the CROWN Act, was passed in California by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. Congressional Democrats attempted to pass a federal ban on hair discrimination last year, but the bill was blocked by Senate Republicans.