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The founding members of The CROWN Coalition, Dove and National Urban League, founding members, have taken action following a decision earlier this month by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) organization denying swim caps created for Black hair for competition at the Olympics.
Soul Cap makes swimming caps specifically for natural Black hair. But the IOC denied an application for the swim gear brand to certify its products for competition, including the Olympic Games.
“FINA’s original ruling against a specific swim cap just highlights the issue that Black swimmers have in this sport,” said Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League and one of the founding members of the CROWN Coalition via the press release. “This decision by FINA shows a lack of historical and emotional awareness for the Black community. The work we are doing with The CROWN Act is important because it shows the education that needs to happen in our country to end hair discrimination in schools, the workplace and now in pools – this has got to stop.”
According to Metro, the FINA committee said to their “best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” adding that the caps don’t follow “the natural form of the head.”
The CROWN Coalition was founded to end race-based hair discrimination. The Coalition is now focused on influencing local, regional, national and international governing bodies to adopt policies to ensure full, equitable participation in the sport of swimming.
“As the world’s #1 resource for Black competitive swimmers, Black Kids Swim is committed to increasing Black participation in competitive swimming,” said Ebony Rosemond, Executive Director of Black Kids Swim. “The talented young Black swimmers we work with every day are the future of swimming and many of them have natural hair. Competitive caps that take natural Afro hair into consideration are already needed and in use. BKS applauds Soul Cap, Swimma Caps, Black Girls Swim and the many brands who recognized this need and, years ago, sent a much-needed positive message of inclusion to our young swimmers.”
Protective hairstyles such as braids, locs, twists and knots are essential protective styles often worn by Black people. Dove, The National Urban League, and the entire CROWN Coalition have been working hard to ensure that hair discrimination is outlawed in the U.S. with The CROWN Act.
To date, 13 states and 30 municipalities have enacted The CROWN Act, or laws inspired by The CROWN Act, with a federal bill introduced in both chambers of U.S. Congress in March 2021.