California lawmakers are in the beginning process of ending discrimination against persons who wear their hair in traditional natural styles, such as afros, braids and dreadlocks.
A new bill titled the “Crown-Act” or SB188, would make it illegal for employers to participate or enforce workplace policies which determine how Black employees and employees of color, choose to wear their hair, according to KABC-TV.
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The bill is supported by California Sen. Holly Mitchell who sports sisterlocks, a natural style derived from dreadlocks but separated in smaller portions. Mitchell represents the 30th Senate District, which includes Culver City, Ladera Heights, Westmont, Crenshaw, Downtown, and Florence, well-known Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Mitchell has served in her role for almost six years.
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“There are any number of court cases that we’ll talk about in judiciary committee that will suggest it is a problem for employees across this country and across the state,” Mitchell said.
The bill follows a recent surge in lawmakers taking a vested interest in hair discrimination, as the laws disproportionately affect Black people. In February, New York City introduced guidelines which would give legal discourse to those who have been either harassed, punished, or terminated from their positions by wearing natural hair styles.
As we know in recent national cases surrounding the issue, Black employees and military service members have been discriminated against the way they chose to wear their hair, which in many times is the way it grows out of their head.
Workplace practices have long-held up unrealistic terms of respectability based on European beauty standards. And unfortunately the shame and practice of hair stigmas stems even earlier than the workplace, and is not opposed to gender.
In January a New Jersey teen was forced to cut his dreadlocks before he was allowed to participate at a wrestling event. Video of the incident went viral and sparked discussions regarding hair discrimination and European beauty standards.
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