PHOTO CREDIT: Andre D. Wagner via The New York Times
Last week, the New York City commission on human rights issued new regulations that ban discrimination based on hair. The new rules give African American New Yorkers the legal right to wear their hair in afros, cornrows, locks, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and other natural hairstyles.
The guidelines state that the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination.
“Bans or restrictions on natural hair or hairstyles associated with black people are often rooted in white standards of appearance and perpetuate racist stereotypes that black hairstyles are unprofessional." ~ Commission guidelines via The Guardian
These regulations are believed to be the first in the US to explicitly protect black people’s right to maintain natural hair. It does this by closely associating hairstyles with a person’s racial, ethnic or cultural identity, meaning discriminating against hair can be racial discrimination. If businesses or employers violate these guidelines, they can face fines of up to $250,000.