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New York City Looks To Ban Discrimination Based on Hair

Anyone in The Big Apple who faces harassment due to their hair will be able to take legal action from now on.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights has new guidelines that they hope will bring an end to discrimination towards individuals based on their hair in the workplace, at school, or in public spaces in general, according to reports from The New York Times.

The primary concern for this change appears to be towards the treatment of Black hairstyles, which is stated pretty clearly in its declaration that New Yorkers have the right to maintain “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

These protections stipulate that the city commission can penalize anyone in violation of this upwards of $250,000. Beyond that, they’re be able to enforce internal policy changes and even spearhead the rehirings at any place found guilty of discriminatory behavior.

“There’s nothing keeping us from calling out these policies prohibiting natural hair or hairstyles most closely associated with black people,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, commissioner and chairwoman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, said. “They are based on racist standards of appearance,” she added, also stating that the commission took on the issue to combat “racist stereotypes that say Black hairstyles are unprofessional or improper.”

The decision to take up these matters stems from investigations conducted amid complaints from workers at a medical facility and a nonprofit organization, both of which happen to be based in The Bronx.  The commission intends to argue that hair is inherent to one’s race, and should be protected under human rights laws, which prevent discrimination towards someone based on their race, gender, national origin, religion, etc.

This seems like a guideline that should have already been put in place a long time ago, but hey–better late than never, right?


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