LETTER: Fiorello Champions Personal Freedoms but was 1 of Just 9 Reps to Vote against CROWN Act to end Hair Discrimination

Submitted by Lorelei O’Hagan, Cos Cob

I was deeply disappointed to learn that Representative Kimberly Fiorello, our state delegate, voted against the CROWN Act last week.

Dove, in partnership with the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty, founded the CROWN Coalition (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) which supports The CROWN Act legislation to end hair discrimination.

This legislation ensures that traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyles like braids, locs, twists and knots, are protected from discrimination in the workplace and in K-12 public and charter schools.

Seven other states, starting with California, New York, and New Jersey, have passed similar laws and another 20 are in motion with related actions. The city of Cincinnati, Ohio and Montgomery County, MD have passed the CROWN Act in those local and county municipalities.

And, On December 5th, 2019, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced The CROWN Act of 2019 in both chambers of U.S. Congress paving the way for federal protections.

Effective Friday, February 26, 2021, the US Army has updated its own uniform and grooming regulations to give the 127,000 women serving in the Army and National Guard a chance to be themselves and serve in ways that are more comfortable and inclusive.

Hair discrimination has real, measurable social and economic impact on Black women.

Numerous CT Representatives testified to their own negative experiences due to their hair during the debate in Hartford, and many more Black community members testified to the need for these protections based on their personal encounters with threatening comments, hair policing, harsh looks, and even being sent home, or shamed in front of colleagues based on
their hair. The Act passed by a whopping 139-9 in Hartford.

Ms. Fiorello was one of only 9 Representatives to vote against it. Ms. Fiorello defines herself as a champion of personal freedoms, yet she ignores the widely supported consensus for the freedom of people of color to celebrate their natural beauty and to live free from fear of scrutiny and discrimination in the workplace, and at school. During Black History Month, and every day, as we are striving to re-imagine a more respectful world, we should expect unanimous support for bills that set the standards we want to live by.

Lorelei O’Hagan
Cos Cob Resident