New York State Bans Hair Discrimination
TheIn a bid to legally protect black women and men with natural hair, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed assembly bill 007797 to prohibit “race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles” in the state.
The bill is an amendment to New York’s Human Rights Law and Dignity for All Students Act, which states that racial discrimination extends to traits that are historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective styles. This also marks a victory for The New York Commission of Human Rights, which set guidelines in New York City back in February to protect citizens’ rights to wear their natural hair—something women have had to change or hide for years.
Studies show that 80% of black women are likely to change their natural hair to conform to societal norms. The bill’s passing is a huge step forward in changing that.
“As a black woman who prioritizes equity, and has worn my natural [hair] for 17 years, this bill is deeply personal for me,” New York assemblywoman Tremaine Wright tells The New York Post of the bill passing. “A legislative fix was in order.”
California passed its legislation against natural hair discrimination on July 3rd, becoming the first state to ever do so. Also known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) Act, California’s bill prohibits “employers from enforcing purportedly ‘race-neutral’ grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color.” The Crown Coalition, which is comprised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and Dove, hoped this would encourage other states to follow California’s lead.
“For much of our nation’s history, people of color—particularly women—have been marginalized and discriminated against simply because of their hairstyle or texture,” Governor Cuomo said.
“By signing this bill into law, we are taking an important step toward correcting that history and ensuring people of color are protected from all forms of discrimination.” He concluded.