On February 18, Jordan Bonardi '20 testified in front of the Committee Chairmen and Members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of Maryland Senate Bill 531/House Bill 1444, also known as The CROWN Act.
The CROWN Act, which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair", ensures protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and state Education Codes.
Below is an excerpt from his testimony:
Recently, I was compelled to share my experience growing up of mixed heritage. When I reflected on my life, I realized that much of my identity is defined by my hair. Some argue that hair is a mutable characteristic, and therefore it cannot be the basis for discrimination. I beg to differ. When I was 7 years old, I enjoyed swimming at the local pool when a grandmother stopped her grandson from playing with me. The boy and I had similar skin complexions, but my hair was much darker, more curly, and more coarse than the boy I was playing with. I wanted to change my hair, believing that it would allow me to fit in, allow me to play with anyone, without fear.
If I can experience discrimination, due to my hair type, then anyone can. When Andrew Johnson is forced to cut his hair to compete in a wrestling match or DeAndre Arnold is denied his right to graduate from his high school due to his choice to wear his hair in a natural style of his choosing, then I know that discrimination can occur in the workplace.
To watch archive footage from the judicial proceedings, please click here. Jordan Bonardi's testimony begins at 2:45:18.