‘Transracial Black’ Woman At Gov. Hobbs’ Signing Of Hair Discrimination Ban

‘Transracial Black’ Woman At Gov. Hobbs’ Signing Of Hair Discrimination Ban

By Corinne Murdock |

The “transracial” woman who stirred national controversy about eight years ago for falsely claiming to be Black attended Gov. Katie Hobbs’ signing of a ban on hair discrimination last Friday.

Rachel Dolezal, who now goes by Nkechi Amare Diallo, formerly served as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington, as well as an Africana studies professor at Eastern Washington University. The truth of Dolezal’s race came to light after her parents came forward to disavow her claimed identity, following her Black rights activism and claims to police and media that she was the victim of racially-motivated hate crimes.

Hobbs signed the executive order — titled the “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act, or “CROWN” Act — on Friday. The California-originating model legislation prohibits public schools and state employers or contractors from discriminating against employees’ hair texture and protective styles, such as braids, locs, twists, knots, and headwraps.

“Black women, men, and children should be able to wear their natural hair with pride and without the fear of discrimination,” tweeted Hobbs, echoing a line from the executive order.

Dolezal wasn’t included in the published version of the photo posted by the governor. 

California lawmakers passed their version of the CROWN Act in 2019. New York, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Illinois all followed suit in passage of their version of the model legislation.

The Arizona legislature last considered a version of the CROWN Act in 2021 under HB2593 from former Democratic State Rep. Aaron Lieberman. The legislation didn’t make it to committee.

Reactions to Hobbs’ executive order were mixed, mainly along party lines. 

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) questioned Hobbs’ priorities: making time for an executive order declaring the professionalism of certain hairstyles while other issues such as the border crisis continue unsolved.

“We don’t have a budget or a secure border, inflation is raging, our elections are a laughingstock and our schools are a parent’s worst nightmare. But at least there’s this,” tweeted AFEC.

However, some criticism came from within Hobbs’ own party. Talonya Adams — the woman impacted by racial discrimination under Hobbs when the governor was Senate Minority Leader in the legislature — indicated that Hobbs’ executive order was an attempt to placate the Black community.

In a since-deleted tweet, Adams questioned Hobbs’ decision to prioritize a social issue like hair discrimination over other, more pressing issues like the homeless crisis or offering an explanation of the Oman trip.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.