Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signs the CROWN Act

On February 1, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed the CROWN Act, also known as Creating a Respective and Open World for Natural hair, into law. The law bans discrimination on a person’s natural hair texture or style. 

A few of our Allina Health employees shared their thoughts on the bill’s passage and what it means to them: 

{{alt}}Joanna Rosa 
MH&A Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Program Manager

I woke up one morning to the news that the CROWN Act was signed into law, and I was relieved and hopeful at the thought of my daughters having a different experience than I have had as a Black woman navigating the world. And this is all through hair! It’s the second thing people notice, the first being the color of my skin. There’s a swift shift of their eyes upward to check on how well I’m listening to the “rules.” If the hair is straight and what they consider neat, there’s relief in their eyes. If the hair is natural, there’s trepidation in their eyes. This all happens within seconds, yet I’m able to recall it intrinsically because this micro acceptance or denial could mean a quiet entry or trouble ahead. As I watch my daughters fight for counter space in the bathroom to get ready for school, I quietly wish they won’t have to learn this way of existing in a world where discrimination because of their hair is silently accepted.

For women, hair is an expression of who we are, what we believe, how we rebel, how we love and how we live. Thankfully, the CROWN Act gives them room to be more fully themselves. Like the Civil Rights movement, those who fought for rights did so for future generations. They understood what their struggle and sacrifice created for the generations after them. My daughters have more room for smiles, laughter, and being able to express themselves however they choose. They can because of those who advocated on their behalf. 


{{alt}}Candice Washington
Director of Operations at Abbott Northwestern Hospital

There is not a day that goes by that I have not thought about how I wear my hair at work and other places. Every hair decision has been met with some level of curiosity by some. I have experienced unwanted attention whenever I change my hair. Imagine using a chemical as dangerous as lye to change your natural hair texture. Imagine what lye does to your hair health, and overall health. I used lye to reverse my natural kinks and coils because I wanted to feel accepted. I wanted to be seen as a whole person and not a hair style. You would have to be in my shoes to understand that statement.

I vividly remember thinking to myself how I would respond WHEN not if, someone questioned my hair texture. How I felt belittled and confused when some thought it was perfectly normal to touch my hair without asking. I felt I was on display. Fast forward to about twelve years ago, I ditched the chemicals and let my natural hair shine through… kinks, coils, and all! I will never go back.

In my community, we practice the traditions from our ancestors’ actions and beliefs; this includes how we think about and wear our hair. Everything about our hair (i.e., texture, style, color, length, etc.) has profound meaning. Our hair is known as our CROWN of glory. Imagine feeling you had to abandon meaningful traditions to “fit” in.  Imagine being discriminated against because the hair growing from your scalp is not accepted in societal norms. The CROWN act is a declaration that we all are uniquely designed with one-of-a-kind DNA ordained before birth, and it should not be discriminated against.


{{alt}}Jackie Thomas-Hall
Vice President, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

There are not many times in my life or career where hair has not been a topic of discussion for me with those whose visible cultural identity was different from mine.

As I’ve shared in the past, part of my journey was being a member of the first Black family to move into my neighborhood and only the second Black family to have children attend the local school. During interactions with classmates, I remember being asked questions about what it means to “press” (straighten) my hair, why the hair doesn’t burn and then hearing things like, “oh that’s why your hair smells funny.”

When it came to wearing braids, I was asked with both amusement and amazement how I got the braids to stay in my hair. All of these conversations created an identity crisis where my difference was seen as odd, peculiar and perhaps something for me to be ashamed of because it was not part of the majority culture.

As I moved into the world of work, there are too many instances to share where my hair was the topic of conversation. When I wore braids, it was met with the same curiosity as when I was a child, but with more maturity and sophistication. I heard comments like, “Wow! That must take hours. I wonder would my hair do that.” One person chuckled as they said, “You say this is the natural state of your hair, but you weren’t born with braids now, were you?”

Because of those types of interactions, as my career progressed, I felt compelled to ask a senior leader i color if braids were appropriate. I was representing leadership and I didn’t want my hair style to shut down any opportunities to bring others on the DEI&B journey. I was pleasantly met with, “Who cares? You be you!"

As you can see from those examples from my life, feeling like I belonged, being seen, accepted, appreciated, valued and respected were not always part of my journey. Although the CROWN Act cannot protect us against bias, assumptions and opinions about who we are, it does recognize and acknowledge how personal appearance has been used as an indicator of our value and what we bring to the table.

Now, legally, at least, who I am naturally cannot be used against me. Thank you, CROWN Act. I feel like the saying, “bring your whole self to work” is being supported.

Posted on February 01, 2023 in

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