Mar 31, 2022 - News

City council refocuses Oscars slap on CROWN Act

Illustration of Austin City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Local officials are using recent headlines about hair loss to increase awareness of the CROWN Act.

In case you (somehow) missed it: Comedian Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair at Sunday's Oscars ceremony. She reportedly shaved her head due to living with alopecia for years.

  • Actor Will Smith got on stage and slapped Rock, later saying the quip about his wife's medical condition "was too much for me to bear, and I reacted emotionally."

State of play: The city's Office of Civil Rights is using the latest headlines over hair loss to push more virtual meetings focused on the CROWN Act.

  • The CROWN Act stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," created in 2019 over hair discrimination in housing policies, schools and workplaces.

City council members directed the city manager to work with stakeholders, including civil rights organizations and businesses, on further recommendations for the civil rights ordinance.

  • "People are being penalized and discriminated against for refusing to succumb to more Eurocentric standards of beauty," Civil Rights officer Carol Johnson said in a statement. "It's our responsibility to ensure equity for our entire community."

What’s next: The next listening sessions are scheduled for April 13 and May 12, and feedback about the CROWN Act can be submitted through the office's questionnaire and poll until June 2.


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